LITH population grew slowly … then exploded
LAKE IN THE HILLS – For many years, the village’s population and footprint slowly grew.
The first residents of the area farmed the land and raised corn, oats and dairy cattle, among other things.
More people came to the area in 1923, when federal Judge Walter J. La Buy began buying property around what is now Woods Creek Lake, the village’s main lake. La Buy had purchased 472 acres by 1926 for his estate.
Five stucco houses were built on the south side of the lake for La Buy’s children. In 1923, La Buy led an effort to dam the lake and further dig it out, which created Woods Creek Lake.
Mules were used for excavation, and the lake is much larger than its original size.
However, the community’s houses were used as summer homes.
In 1940, Raymond Platt, his wife, Bernice, and his brother-in-law, J.R. Ladd, bought property from La Buy, and in 1947 they formed the Lake in the Hills Development Corp.
The area was opened for public sale in May 1947. Developers intended to provide affordable homes for World War II veterans. Lots were a minimum of 60 feet by 140 feet and ranged in price from $500 to $3500.
By 1950, many of the houses in the area became year-round residences, and a property owners association was formed. The association put in the gravel roads and helped address the issues of snow removal and road maintenance.
That led to the village being incorporated in 1952.
The property owners association also organized parades in the village and helped put in ball fields, said Bob Spooner, president of the Lake in the Hills Historical Society.
The original portion of the village around the lake “was a quite small community and very tight-knit,” Spooner said.
The first village hall was a sales office donated by Raymond Platt at 55 Hilltop. In 1959, the village operations were moved to 1111 Crystal Lake Road. A new municipal center was built in 1992 at 1115 Crystal Lake Road. In 2002, the current village hall was built at 600 Harvest Gate.
In the 1990s, the village, which this year celebrates its 60th anniversary of being incorporated, experienced a building boom.
The village went through a large growth spurt, especially on former farmland west of Randall Road.
The area saw growth because it had easy access to Chicago because of the Metra trains and the interstate.
The village began entering into lots of annexation agreements with developers. As land was annexed and houses were built, the tap-on fees to connect to utilities helped pay for upgrades to the village’s water and sewer system.
There were hundreds of building permits a month, and Lake in the Hills was one of the fastest-growing communities in the nation, Spooner said.
As the village grew, there would be “bidding wars” between municipalities trying to persuade developers to agree to annex land to communities, Spooner said.
Developers would try to get the best deal for land to be annexed, Spooner said.
People came to Lake in the Hills because the village allowed smaller lot sizes, which meant more houses and lower impact fees, Spooner said.
“It essentially happened quite rapidly,” Spooner said. “The economy was ripe for houses to be built.”