The architectural heritage of The Circles is closely intertwined with the adjacent North Shore Country Club.
The picture above captures a view of The Circles site from downtown Glenview looking East in 1926. As local development proceeded, the extension of what is now Glenview Road allowed direct access to this area and connections with the current Wilmette area and North Shore.
This surge of early economic development became the foundation for the architectural heritage of The Circles and connections with the North Shore. In the 1920s this Glenview area was advertised as an “elite playground” offering a private airfield, country clubs and plans for a polo field.
The North Shore Country Club, one of the earliest courses established on the shores of Lake Michigan at the turn of the past century, moved to its permanent home to this new location on Memorial Day 1924. At this early date, The Circles neighborhood was known as “the Borders” because it was adjacent to the North Shore Country Club -- and the subdivision was officially recorded accordingly in July 2, 1924
Construction of the earliest homes can be seen in aerial photographs of the neighborhood from the late 1920s. The designation of the street names, referring to the English Sea captains, reflected the trend to use historical references for upscale developments. By using a variety of architectural styles which were popular between the World Wars, the development appealed to senior executives of major corporations, state and federal officials, and noted professionals.
In the early years, the success of the North Shore Country Club also drew national attention to the area, e.g. In 1933 the US Open Championship was hosted by the club. With incorporation of the Circles Association in 1955 residents began to undertake neighborhood development and improvement projects which enhanced the natural landscape. This also coincided with the post-war boom and additional waves of construction, but the exceptional blending of traditional architectural styles and landscaping was maintained.
Architecturally, the North Shore Country Club was designed by a prominent British firm of Colt, MacKenzie and Allison, but The Circles neighborhood featured custom homes by a variety of local architects. While there have been only relatively minor changes to the Country Club buildings over past seventy years, many of the original homes in the Circles neighborhood have been renovated, modified or rebuilt.
As most of the homes have aged gracefully, The Circles could be considered as a historic district pursuant to the national registration criteria because of it’s defined boundaries, distinctive elements and local significance. Most specifically, this area is notable for Community Planning and Development (and recreation), it’s physical relationship to the historic Country Club, and for it’s prominence in the development of the East Glenview area into an upscale suburban community during the post-war era.
This website includes noteworthy examples representative architecture and landscape features selected from each of the streets which encompass The Circles.