Kenilworth History

Kenilworth is located approximately 17 miles north of downtown Chicago. It is the newest of the eight Chicago suburban communities fronting on Lake Michigan, commonly referred to as “the North Shore”, and is the only one developed as a planned community.

The first land for the Village was purchased by Joseph Sears in 1889: 223.6 acres, at a cost of $150,300. Seven years later the population had reached 300 residents, fulfilling the legal requirement for incorporation. Joseph Sears possessed definite ideas about how a village should be planned. Streets were platted to maximize the availability of sunlight in each home, utilities were placed underground, no alleys or fences were permitted, construction standards were high, and there were large lots and paved streets.  A village whose center lies in the family should also have a church and a school. Mr. Sears gave land for both.

The beauty of the village attracted many distinguished residents including architect and town planner George W. Maher, and early purchaser. A contemporary and colleague of Frank Lloyd Wright, Maher, in due course, proceeded to design approximately 37 homes in the village. His town planning expertise and civic dedication further enriched the village with most of the parks and civic sculpture – including the entry fountain, stone benches, planter urns, bridges and entry pylons – that residents enjoy today. Maher played an important role in continuing the character of the original village as Kenilworth expanded south and west through a series of annexations in the 1920’s.

The expansion included 40 acres in the southwest belonging to the North Shore Golf Club. This parcel was purchased and developed by a group of civic-minded Kenilworth residents who formed the Kenilworth Realty Association to help carry out the Village Plan of 1922. With the annexation of land in the 1920’s, the village grew to its current size of 0.6 of a square mile. The 2000 census listed the population at 2,494.

For more information about Kenilworth history, visit the Kenilworth Historical Society.