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History

The Idea

In 1908, with the idea of building a private place for spending leisure time, a group of prominent Chicago-area families joined together to purchase land in the northeast corner of Glencoe, Illinois, about 25 miles north of Chicago. The then rural village was connected to the city by train, which made developing in the area attractive to families who desired a quiet place away from the city to relax, socialize, and partake in a shared enthusiasm for outdoor sports.

Old Beck Farm

When the Club was founded, Glencoe was a rural village, Sheridan Road was a dirt track, and the 127 acres where the Club now stands was mostly a muddy scrubland known as Beck's Farm. In 1909, nationally-renowned landscape architects, Frederick Law Olmsted—widely known as the father of American Landscape Architecture—and his sons, Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. and John Charles Olmsted, were hired to help develop the property. That year, the equally preeminent Chicago architect, Howard Van Doren Shaw, won a nation-wide architectural competition to design and build a clubhouse overlooking Lake Michigan. His vision of an architecture that fitted unobtrusively into the landscape matched the Olmsted's perfectly.

The Clubhouse

In 1910, the Clubhouse was completed. Like the Olmsteds, Shaw respected the spirit or "genius" of a place. Designed to make visitors more conscious of their natural surroundings, the Clubhouse was built to maximize natural light with oversized doors leading out to an expansive terrace and tall windows overlooking a vast lawn and Lake Michigan. While the south wing of the approximately 125,000-square foot Clubhouse had rooms for overnight stays by Members and Guests, the north wing featured employee housing and a professional kitchen. Although the Clubhouse has undergone multiple renovations over the years, the building itself remains as Shaw imagined—perfectly set on the land, as if it had always been there. 

The Land

In the early years of the Club, the expansive East lawn was used for social events and athletic activities, including baseball, badminton, croquet, skeet shooting, and sleigh rides. Later, with the addition of tennis courts and a swimming pool, tennis, swimming, and platform diving were added to the mix. The lawn also served as the site for large Member gatherings, including the annual Fourth of July fireworks, cookouts on the beach, and county fairs with homemade pies. Although the Club acquired land west of Sheridan Road, it was not initially large enough to build an eighteen-hole golf course. As a result, the property to the south and west was leased (and later purchased) from the Brand Family, thereby enabling the development of the golf course.

The Racquets Program

Tennis became a craze in the 1920s and in the early part of the decade, Lake Shore built its first courts. Initially located by the north end of the main Clubhouse, the courts were later moved to the east side of the building closer to the water with sweeping views of Lake Michigan. In the early 1990s, a paddle tennis facility with four courts and a warming hut was added on the Westside adjacent to the golf driving range. The hut recently underwent a major renovation and reopened to Members in time for the 2019 Paddle season.

The Swimming Pool Complex

During the Club's early years, aquatic activities were centered around Lake Michigan. In 1936, a state-of-the-art swimming pool with diving boards was built on the East Lawn, which was quite innovative and luxurious for the times. Described by the Chicago Daily Tribune as "magnificent as a Roman bath, in rich blue tile," the pool was a local wonder. It became a hub of Lake Shore's summer activities. In 2019, the complex underwent a major renovation and re-opened in the summer of 2020 with a brand new pool, an interactive fountain, and a contemporary casual restaurant on the bluff overlooking the lake.

The 18-Hole Golf Course

Over the past 100-plus years, some of the most renowned architects in golf history have had an influence on the Club's course—from Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. to Tom Bendelow and Donald Ross to the most recent renovation by Ron Prichard. Today, the course accommodates around 10,000 rounds of golf annually. Set among striking ravines that lead to Lake Michigan, Lake Shore's golf facility includes a gorgeous 18-hole golf course, a driving range, putting greens, and a separate chipping practice area. The Golf Clubhouse, rebuilt after a terrible fire in the summer of 1994, features men's and women's locker rooms, plus indoor and outdoor dining. A new pro-shop and caddy/cart facility were built in 1999.

To This Day

Although the Club's facilities and activities of interest have changed over the past century, the spirit of Lake Shore remains the same—a family-oriented home away from home for generations of families, many of whom are descendants or members of the original founding families.