Founded in 1850, Maine Township is the oldest unit of local government in the area. Maine Township’s mission is to improve the quality of life for its residents by providing services, general assistance, information, and programs in a fiscally responsible manner. During its existence, it has seen its surroundings grow from a predominantly rural farming community to a major metropolitan area with some 130,000 residents.
The Township moved to its current headquarters at 1700 Ballard Road in Park Ridge in 1983. The building was a former church designed by Lloyd Wright, son of the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
From Church to Public Service Center
Maine Township’s Town Hall stands on land originally purchased as farmland by William and Bertha Pump in 1918. They later sold it to a real estate developer. In 1957, the site committee of Good Shepherd Community Church was searching for a permanent location for their parish. Godfrey Lindstrom, a home builder, heard about their search and agreed to set aside two and a half acres at the southwest corner of this new sixty-home subdivision, known as Ballard Gardens, in the unincorporated area north of Park Ridge, Illinois.
Good Shepherd Church commissioned Lloyd Wright, architect of the Wayfarers Chapel at Portuguese Bend, California, to design their building. According to a church pamphlet, Wright said he aimed “to lift on high literally as well figuratively the site above existing flat terrain typifying sense of elevation inherent in religious purpose and structures.”
Declining membership forced Good Shepherd Parish to sell its 20,000-square-foot church building to Maine Township in 1983. Prior to 1983, Township meetings were held in a rented storefront at 2510 Dempster Street in Des Plaines, near Maine East High School. Before the Township could occupy the building, it required $400,000 worth of improvements, including moving the main entrance to what was the rear of the building, and installing elevators.
In the summer of 1995, construction began on an addition to the Town Hall to accommodate the need for more space in General Assistance, Disabled Services and other Township departments. This 7,000-square-foot addition, built for $1.1 million, was designed under the consultation of Dennis Stevens, an architect trained in the building’s original Wrightian style. Work on the addition was completed in May 1996, and provided a double-car garage and additional office space to accommodate increased demand for Township services.
One Part Beauty, One Part Practicality
The Maine Township Town Hall is brick masonry with a steeply sloped asphalt roof bordered with an eight-to-twelve-inch strip of copper, that patinated to a deep shade of green over the past 40-plus years. Its dramatically peaked front and rear roof holds a series of triangular, copper-trimmed skylights running east-to-west. The main meeting room ceiling is at least twenty feet high.
The building’s 27,000 square feet contain the first floor, a fully finished basement and a second story office overlooking the main meeting room that served as the sanctuary for the original church.
An outside berm, now located several feet from the south was originally adjoined the building, making the south wall a living wall, containing plants and a waterfall. The berm separated from the building by a sidewalk now contains a prairie garden showcasing flowers indigenous to original Illinois prairie.
Other Important Dates in Township History
- 1975 — The Township establishes MaineStay Youth Services to enhance the strengths of the family, prevent juvenile delinquency and help young people become responsible members of the community.
- 1983 — The Township hosts its first Agency Day, an annual event to encourage networking and cooperation among local social service agencies.
- 1985 — The Township creates a full-service senior services department, appoints a committee of seniors to help plan activities, and hires a full-time director for the program.
- 1987 — The Township establishes MaineTRAC (Maine Township Restitution for Adolescent Change), a restitution program for juvenile offenders ages 12 to 17.
- 1990 — The Township begins a police hireback program to ensure a Cook County Sheriff’s officer is in the unincorporated area at all times during scheduled patrol hours.
- 1992 — The Township and the North Suburban Council on Employment for Persons with Disabilities sponsor the first Job Fair for the Disabled. The Township also created the Youth Drop-In Center (now the TLC Teen Center) with the cooperation of volunteers in the Maine Township Task Force Against Gangs.
- 1994 — The Township establishes an in-Township taxi transportation service for disabled residents. The Township also begins offering recreation scholarship for local, low-income youths who wish to participate in day camp and after-school programs.
- 1995 — The Township receives a Governor’s Home Town Award recognizing the volunteers who helped create and operate the Youth Drop-In Center (now the TLC Teen Center).
- 1996 — The Township receives a Governor’s Home Town Award recognizing the volunteers who participate in Maine Township’s Neighborhood Watch.
- 2001 — The Township receives a Governor’s Home Town Award recognizing the Maine Township Food Pantry.
- 2015 — The Township establishes Recovery Connection to help young adults in recovery avoid returning to alcohol or drug use.
- 2016 — The Township begins to offer affordable psychiatric services in response to the closing of Maine Center.