By Hinsdale Magazine Staff
In the 1940’s as Paul Butler took over management of the Butler Company, he continued to purchase land so that eventually the company owned approximately 3600 acres of what is now Oak Brook. In 1942 a community wide organization called “The Oak Brook Civic Association” was created to serve the area between Hinsdale and Elmhurst as a World War II civil defense operation. It marked the first time that the words ‘Oak Brook’ were used to identify anything other than polo. In 1945 following World War II, the Oak Brook Civic Association was incorporated as a “not for profit corporation”. It flourished as a “quasi-governmental” organization that held monthly meetings at the Butler School. In 1946-47 Theodore “Ted” Mohlman was hired by Paul Butler as General Manager of the Oak Brook division of the Butler Company. He became responsible for the polo operation, ‘The Base Farm’, York Golf Course, and Upland Game Hunting facility. In 1951, Butler convinced the Illinois State Tollway Commission authorities to move the Tri-State road east to the DuPage-Cook County line, and re-locate the East-West road north to the 22nd Street corridor.
In 1955 Marshall Field & Company purchased the vacant 150-acre Otto Ahren’s farm located at Route 83 and 22nd street for a future store and what became known as Oakbrook Center. The original village of Oak Brook became a reality on February 21, 1958 when it consisted of one square mile and had only 103 residents. It is framed on the map in dark lines. Because the proposed shopping center was not contiguous to the village, it was not included on the petition. In turn, Paul Butler and Ted Mohlman convinced several residents of Utopia (subsequently renamed Oakbrook Terrace) to disconnect themselves from Utopia and were annexed into Oak Brook. They brought with them the vacant land on which the shopping center would be built. In April 1958, Ted Mohlman was elected first president of the Village of Oak Brook. During 1958 and 1959, Paul Butler annexed all of his property into the new Village. Construction began in 1960 on the shopping center which opened in 1962.
In 1961, Paul Butler created the Oak Brook Park District that was co-terminus with the village borders. This prevented the newly formed Oakbrook Terrace Park District from including his vacant land holdings, some of it extremely valuable commercial properties, as part of its tax base. Butler also donated land for a new elementary school on York Road. In 1977, the village residents voted for the first village tax in order to purchase bonds to acquire the 270- acre Sports Core from Paul Butler at a cost of $11 million. Since that time, the Sports Core has been operated by the village to include the Bath & Tennis Club, an 18-hole public golf course, fields for polo and other athletic events. As you look at the map, it indicates when blocks of land and subdivisions were annexed over the years
*Excerpts from historical timeline provided by William Watson 2008