Village History

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7774 W. IRVING PK. RD. NORRIDGE, IL. 60706 (708) 453-0800 FAX (708)453-9335

Norridge Historical Committee established 1996. Norridge Historical Society established November 2002

History of Norridge Illinois


The Norridge Village Administrative Offices are located at 4000 N. Olcott Ave. Norridge was incorporated on December 4, 1948, as a village form of government, having a Village Board of Trustees consisting of a President, a Village Clerk and 6 Trustees all elected at large.


This area is on a Moraine ridge forming a watershed with the Chicago River Valley on the east and the Des Plaines River Valley on the west. The crown of the ridge is at Overhill Ave., 7600 west. Altitude: 645 -649 feet. Latitude: 41 Degrees, 57 Minutes, 45 Seconds. Longitude: 87 Degrees, 49 Minutes, 30 seconds. It is part of Norwood Park Township and the County of Cook. The portion of Norridge which is west of Cumberland Avenue is part of Leyden Township.

Regional History

Norridge is adjacent to the tract of land deeded to Chief Chee-Chee-Pin-Qua, (translated "squint eye") also known as Alexander Robinson, Chief of the Pottawatomies. In 1843, 1280 acres of land was granted to him by President John Tyler for services in helping conclude two treaties between the Indians and whites and saving the John Kinzie and Captain Nathan Heald families. They were survivors of the Fort Dearborn massacre during the War of 1812. His father was a Scottish officer and his mother an Ottawa, whose father was French. He married Catherine Chevalier, daughter of Three Fires Chief, Francois Chevalier. Their family home was located along the east side of the Des Plaines River, one and a half blocks north of Lawrence Ave. and two blocks west of Dee Road. The family grave site is located in the Robinson Forest Preserve at Lawrence and Dee Road. Robinson died in 1872. The Robinson home burned in May 1955. His cousin's house was used as a Forest Preserve field office until it was moved from the Forest Preserve to 4905 N. Clifton Ave Norwood Park Township. This area was later annexed to Norridge.

Local History

In the early nineteen hundreds, the area that is now Norridge had many small truck farms and in the early thirties and forties had many riding stables because of the proximity to the Forest Preserves. All of these were displaced in the late forties & fifties when the land was developed for homes and some light industries.

Norridge History

Through the efforts of the Annexation Improvement Club, Norridge was incorporated, by referendum, on December 4, 1948. There were 578 votes for, 195 against. Population was 1,675. The area was approximately 80 acres. Bounded on the south by Irving Park Road (originally called Plank Road), Ozanam Ave. on the west (originally called Phillips Road), Montrose Ave on the north and Harlem Ave., on the east. Norridge became a "Home Rule" Community by referendum on May 1, 1973.

The name "Norridge" was suggested by resident Mrs. Link. "Nor" from Norwood Park Township and "Ridge" from the nearby suburb of Park Ridge, and joining them together to make the name Norridge. The Annexation Improvement Club changed its name to the Norridge Improvement Club and put together a group of candidates to form the first government of the new village. The first Village Board was elected in February 1949 and consisted of: Karl A. Kuchar, President (1949-51), Harold Dierkes, Village Clerk, (1949-74) and Trustees Joseph Kloth (1949-51), Robert Stark (1949-51), Henry Hinrichson (1949-51), John Kruk (1949-51) and Henry Koeber, Jr (1949-51). Joseph Sieb was appointed Building Inspector. In 1951, he was appointed to the Board to replace Karl A. Kuchar who resigned. Joe Sieb was appointed President of the Board on November 14, 1951.

He was repeatedly re elected and served continuously for 46 years and 222 days until his death on June 23, 1998. As of that date, he was the longest-serving official in the state of Illinois.

The first official Board meeting was held in February 1949 at the home of Village Clerk Harold Dierkes, at 4321 N. Ozanam Ave. This became the Village "office" for the first five years. The village public meetings were held in the Norwood Park Volunteer Fire house at 4348 N. Ottawa Ave. until the Village Hall was built in 1954, at 4020 N. Olcott Ave. It consisted of three small offices and an attached, large 2-truck garage. The Mayor's office, Village Clerk's office and the Police Department office were located in that building. The Norridge Police would hold prisoners in the jail cells at the River Grove Police Station. Police radio service was also provided by River Grove. Weather permitting, meetings were held in the garage; the trucks were moved out and folding chairs were set up.

Over time this building had several expansions which provided municipal offices, a council chamber for their public meetings and police facilities, including a 3 cell jail. The new, enlarged Village Hall was dedicated October 20, 1990, at the corner of Olcott Ave. and Irving Park Road. This property had been the location of an abandoned gas station that had blown up a few years earlier. The original Village Hall was converted into a police only facility.

This Village of "Norridge" is the only community in the world named Norridge. This research was done, in 2002, by Colin Muffet for a friend, John Linford, who is the owner of the pub "The Marlborough Arms" of Norwich, England. Norwich is pronounced "Noritch" in the local Norfolk dialect. This curiosity came about as a result of John Linford buying, for his pub, an old Norridge village sign at an auction in the Netherlands. John is a collector of unique artifacts to decorate his pub. His curiosity about the signs' origin led Colin to search the Internet and finally contacting the Norridge Village Hall on October 15, 2002.

This led to extensive exchange of communications, via the Internet, between Mr. Muffet and the Norridge Deputy Village Clerk, Robert O'Brien. Robert and his fiance, Laura Green, vacationed in England and visited John Linford. They brought a Norridge flag, old and new street signs. On April 2, 2003, John Linford, Colin Muffet and Niel Quinlan came to visit Norridge while attending an Antique Juke Box show in St. Charles, Illinois.

In 1954 Norridge doubled its size when it annexed the area between Montrose Ave. and Lawrence Ave. Norridge continued its growth by additional annexations north to Foster Ave., west to Dee Road and east to Sayer Ave. It now encompasses approximately two square miles. The population at the time of incorporation was 1,675. It reached 18,043 in 1971. At the last census in 2000 it was 14,582.


The village infrastructure covers an area of two square miles. It has 31.65 miles of streets, 55 miles of sidewalks and over 4900 homes. There are 30.5 miles each sanitary and storm sewers. Hardness of the water is 8 grains/135 PPM. Water is from Lake Michigan and is purchased from the City of Chicago. Norridge has 3 water storage reservoirs, one above ground and two underground with a total storage capacity of 2,250,000 gallons.


School District. #80

Before the establishment of the village many of the community's' social activities centered around the James Giles School, located at 4251 N. Oriole Ave. The school was named after a local farmer who was the superintendent of the school district for many years. His farm was a strip of land that extended from Montrose Ave. to Lawrence Ave., just east of Oriole Ave. This is now part of the Ridgewood High School property.

James Giles was born in England on July 27, 1863 and came to the United States in 1870. His mother brought her wedding present with them from England when they moved to Norwood Pk Township. It is called a "whatnot" (free-standing ornamental wooden corner shelves). It is now on display at the Village of Norridge Museum. The whatnot was contributed to the museum by James Giles' daughter, Izetta Giles Castiglia, in 1998. James Giles had served as Township Supervisor and President of the Board of Directors of the school, later called the Board of Education. The original school consisted of a one- room schoolhouse that was located on the northwest corner of Plank Road & Phillips road(Irving Pk & Ozanam Ave.). It was called the Leyden School (originally Dist.#4 and then later Dist #1) and was at this site from 1851. James Pennoyer was the Justice of the Peace who signed the original real estate transaction for this property. A three-room annex was built next to the one room school- house in 1927; it burned in 1951. Pictures of the schools are on display at the Norridge Museum.

A four-room, two-story brick schoolhouse on Oriole Ave. was built in 1928. This 5-acre property was bought from farmer John Sass. The school was named after James Giles. On April 24, 1949 a four-room addition was made to the building and a Time Capsule was placed in the cornerstone. On September 11, 1998, the time capsule was removed from the corner- stone and its contents displayed on the 50Th anniversary of this addition. A new Time Capsule, a one-cubic foot, sealed copper container, and a bronze plaque were supplied by the Norridge Historical Committee for this occasion.

Its contents were reinterred with additional artifacts and sealed in the wall above the cornerstone. Its location is now marked by the plaque located under the bleacher stands on the north inner wall of the school's Anderson Hall gymnasium. The original time capsule is on display at the Norridge Village Museum. A second school was built at 8151 W. Lawrence Ave. in 1958 and was named the John V. Leigh School. Mr. Leigh was the long time Superintendent of School Dist #80.

School District #79

The James M. Pennoyer School was established in 1839 and is presently located at 5200 N. Cumberland Ave. at the northwest corner at Foster Ave. It was originally located at southwest corner of Higgins and Canfield Across from thewhere the VFW Hall is now located. A photograph of the one- room schoolhouse is on display at the Norridge Museum. The new school was built in 1956, replacing the original school.

Norridge students in the northwest portion of the village attend this school, along with students from Harwood Heights. The graduates of this school attend Maine Township High School, Dist 207. The school property was originally in the unincorporated area of Norwood Park Township but was hurriedly annexed to Norridge to prevent the City of Chicago from annexing the school property into Chicago.

Chicago had originally annexed the O'Hare airport property by "strip annexation" north from Lawrence Ave. on Dee Rd. to Higgins, west along Higgins Rd. to Mannheim Rd. This was later declared illegal. In 1959, to protect its authority over O'Hare, Chicago annexed the adjacent Forest Preserves south of Higgins and west of Cumberland Ave.

The Pennoyer School property was directly in the path of this annexation. In 1959 the night before this annexation went into effect, the Norridge Board of Trustees annexed the Pennoyer school property into Norridge.

Divine Savior Catholic School

It is located at the northeast corner of Montrose Ave. and Ozanam Ave. on 10 acres of farm land purchased from Steward Tookey in 1955. The church was originally a mission church holding their Sunday services in the basement gymnasium of the Giles School until a combination school and church was built in 1956. The school was staffed by the Sisters of St. Francis of Immaculate Mary of Joliet Illinois having 8 grades with an enrollment of 865. Due to high cost and low enrolment, less than 100 students, the school closed in 2005.

Ridgewood High School District #234

Until 1959, most of the area of Norwood Park Township did not have a High School. The exception was that Pennoyer Dist #79 was in the High School Dist #207, Maine Township High School. The area without a high school was officially classified by the state as a "Non High School District."

Taxes were collected from the property owners for the purpose of educating the high school students of this area by paying tuition and sending them to neighboring schools such as Lane Tech, Schurz and Steinmetz in Chicago and Maine & Leyden Township suburban schools. In 1957, the State Legislature eliminated all Non High School Districts giving them the options: to join a neighboring school District, form their own district or do nothing and let the state determine their future. Martin Schroeder, who was Superintendent of this Non High School District, requested the State Legislature give this community 2 years to decide their own future.

The "Non-High School Problems Committee" was formed to study this matter and inform the public. The Committee was comprised of a representative from each of the various local political, school and parent organizations. A bronze plaque honoring the members of this committee is located in the hall of Ridgewood High School.

The community was divided with strong opinions for and against having a high school. A census was taken by the committee members to get the opinions of the citizens. They held several forums informing the public of the details of their study. A referendum was held on July 12, 1958, and the referendum for a high school was passed by 2 votes.

Thus High School District #234 was established and the school was named Ridgewood. Incorporating into the name, RIDGE from Norridge, WOOD from Harwood Heights and Norwood. In May 1968 Ridgewood would be recognized as one of the 10 best high schools in the United States by a survey of Ladies Home Journal magazine. This achievement was recognized and placed into the Congressional Record on May 13, 1968 by Hon. Roman Pucinski.

Norridge Park District

The Norridge Park District was established by referendum in 1955. The district encompassed the same area as School Dist #80. The first Park Board of Commissioners were: Raymond W. Selman, President (1956 -1959), William F. Penrod, Vice President (1956-1964), James E. Wilson, Secretary (1956-1959), Neal L. Holtz, Treasurer (1956-1967) and Steward Tookey, Member (1956-1964).

On June 1, 1957, the Park District bought 20.3 acres. Located: with Lawrence Ave. on the north, Wilson Ave. on the south, Overhill Ave. on the West and just west of the homes on Oriole Ave. on the east. This was done by condemnation, from the Shapiro family. This was not without acrimony. The Shapiro family had bought the property in the 1920s as an investment and planned to subdivide it for factories to maximize their return on their investment. They also had bought a 20-foot wide easement from the power company extending from Montrose on the south to Lawrence Ave. on the north between the back easements for Ottawa and Oriole Avenues. This easement was planned to be used to bring utilities from Norridge to their factory site.

Their request for annexation to Norridge for a factory site was rejected by the Norridge Board of Trustees. The Shapiros applied for annexation to Harwood Heights for a factory site and were accepted. This was challenged by the Park Board which had planned a condemnation of this land for public use as a park. The Park Board attended the next Harwood Heights Board meeting with Norridge's Attorney, Lou Ansel, and many Norridge citizens. Mr. Ansel explained that the zoning of the property was illegal because a legal notice concerning the purpose of this meeting was not properly posted . The Harwood Heights dropped the zoning but the land remains in jurisdiction of Harwood Heights.

Harwood Heights could not supply utilities for the park. The park annexed the parkway along Overhill Ave., from Wilson Ave. to Lawrence Ave., to Norridge so that Norridge could provide water and sewers for the park.

Efforts to have the park annexed to Norridge seemed to come to fruition in as Harwood Heights needed land for their Public Works Dept. A trade was agreed upon and Norridge dis-annexed a piece of land at the southeast corner of the parking lot behind Denny's Restaurant to Harwood Heights. Unfortunately, the Harwood Heights Board of Trustees reneged on this agreement and the park was not turned over to Norridge jurisdiction. Harwood Heights provides Police protection for the park.

Norridge Youth Activities

This was established by proclamation of the Norridge Village Board on June 23, 1954. It stated the Purpose: "Social and recreational in the furtherance of which to have power to promote athletic activities for the youth of the Village of Norridge." The original name was, "Youth Activities of Norridge." The name was changed to Norridge Youth Activities, (NYA) on November 18, 1965.

The first Board of Directors
  • Raymond A. Peters, Chairman
  • Lawrence Tobin, Vice Chairman
  • Treasurer, Rocco Secco
  • Fred Pethes, Secretary
  • Harold Dierkes, Corresponding Secretary
Short list of the activities
  • Baseball:
    • Little League Baseball.
    • Girl's, Senior Div. Softball, Illinois State Champions 1981.
    • Boys Major League Div. Illinois State & Central Region Little League champions. WorldChampions 5th Place 1986.
  • Bowling
  • Football
  • Baton Twirlers
NYA annual Carnival

The "Norridge Carnival Days" was held each year to raise funds. Each activity was responsible to raise funds for their individual venue and operated a booth at the carnival. The village officials also helped by operating a booth. Profit from the carnival was used to subsidize any activity that could not raise adequate funds.

National recognition of the NYA with a plaque from President John F. Kennedy Commendation to the Norridge Youth Activities Committee

"The Future Strength, Welfare and Progress of Our Nation will be Determined, in Large Measure by the Mental, Emotional, Spiritual, Social and Physical Fitness of its People." Those Dedicated Individuals who Freely Give of their Time and Energy in Guiding our Boys and Girls Do Indeed Perform a Valuable Service Not Only to Their Communities but to the Nation as Well. May I Through You Extend Greetings and Best Wishes To the Many Volunteer Workers of the NYA Committee. They Could Not be Engaged in a More Useful Task"

Dated - August 28, 1962

Mr. Ralph H. Dungeon, Presidential Assistant
John F. Kennedy, President United States of America.
The plaque is on display at the Norridge Museum.

Norridge Police Department

Police Chiefs
  • David Gaienne, May 15, 1949
  • Harry McCarthy
  • Ray Peters Sr.
  • Glenn Johnson
  • John Wagner
  • Medard Zabratanski
  • Ervin Siemers
  • Charles Ghiloni
  • James Jobe
  • David Disselhorst

Fire District

Volunteer Fire Dept. Founded 1941
Became a Fire District 1958


est 1972 1974