Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Hawthorn-Mellody Farms & Amusement Park, Libertyville, IL. (1907-1970)

In 1907, Samuel Insull purchased 132 acres of land called Hawthorn Farm and a farmhouse which occupied the space. It was located on the west side of Milwaukee Avenue (RT 21), and today's Townline Road (RT 60).
Construction on a new house began in 1914, but the original structure stood for some time.
The Insull's new house at Hawthorn-Mellody Farms.
Hawthorn Mellody Estate Farm House designed for Samual Insull in 1914.
1941 Photograph during the Cuneo period.
A one room schoolhouse served children of employees and servants for the Insull home in Lake County. It was demolished in the 1990s, but it had been out of use long before this time.
Hawthorn one room schoolhouse.
John F. Cuneo, who bought the 2000-acre farm from utilities magnate Samuel Insull in 1937 and sold the property in 1967 to the National Industries, Inc. of Louisville.
One of the largest dairy farms in Lake County, Hawthorn-Mellody served the North Shore as far South as Evanston.  
Beyond functioning as a state of the art dairy farm, Hawthorn-Mellody also ran a small, but successful, amusement park including a Children's Petting Zoo, a Steam Train, Country Store, Western Town and the Club of Champs, which displayed autographs and possessions of the star athletes of the time, such as Joe Louis' boxing gloves and Sonja Henie's ice skates.

Film star Hopalong Cassidy made an appearance at Hawthorn Mellody Farms.
Cuneo hoped it would serve as a fun, educational center for children and adults alike to learn about agriculture and the dairy industry. He constructed a public Milking Parlor where visitors could watch the Holstein cows that were milked there every afternoon. The "free of human touch" production process convinced visitors to try Hawthorn-Mellody milk. 

Free of human touch dairy plant.
Hawthorn-Mellody Farms was torn down in 1970 due to a decrease in attendance and an inability to compete with more modern dairy facilities.

Hawthorn-Mellody Farm, Summers of 1964/65

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 


  1. I beleive it was John F. Cuneo. And just where was the amusement park?

  2. Reread the story. It says where it was.

    1. I thought Hawthorne Mellody was further north, just south of 120. The Cuneo property/estate was at 60.

    2. Hawthorne-Mellody was on Rte 21 (Milwaukee Ave) on the west side of the road at the EJ&E railroad tracks (a Lowe's home improvement center is there now). The "western town" was on the north end of the property, near what is now Greentree Parkway. Hawthorn Mall shopping center at the NW corner of Rte. 21 and Rte. 60 took the name from Hawthorne-Mellody.

  3. I remember going there a number of times with my family...it was an almost magical place to a youngster who love animals and the farm life. I remember standing next to the single largest oxen I had ever seen. Watching the milking parlor in action, seeing the milk processed and then getting to enjoy a cold glass of milk on a hot summer day. Good memories there...thanks for this site. It is a WONDERFUL and REWARDING trip down memory lane!

  4. Thanks for the link my Dad would take the family every summer. Brings back such wonderful memories.

  5. I went there on a school bus for a field trip. It was a wonderful day that I often think about.

  6. I'm pretty pleased to discover this site. I want to to thank you for ones time for this fantastic read!!
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  7. My mother would take my brother and I there every year. I loved the train ride to the ghost town. Watching the skeletons play the piano in the saloon was my favorite. Then back to the dairy to watch the cows being cleaned and milked. Sure wish it was still there so I could take my grand-angels.

  8. I went there many times. Great memories. I lived behind it, a few farm fields away and we use to go there, I think now that we were trespassing!

  9. As a little child I still remember the Wild West Town and watching the cows get milked. It was a magical place. A couple years ago my spouse and I visited the Cuneo Museum and they gave us a pamphlet "Hawthorn Mellody Farms...Revisited". Still got it.

  10. I went there with my second grade class (Washington Elementary in Elmhurst, Ill) around 1953. We brought sack lunches, but they gave us milk and ice cream, also, it was a very fun-filled outing for us. Wishing there were more places like that today ! Claudia Kellogg Kochistringov

  11. I remember going there a time or two as a young child... I had forgotten about it until looking at some of my Dad's old slides. I recalled going there with my folks and my Nana who was visiting from back East. I don't think we ever went to the Western Town, but I recall the zoo and the dairy barn, seeing the cows in the milking parlor. I think I also went there on a kindergarten field trip once (I grew up in Des Plaines, IL). Another place that holds happy childhood memories for me was Honey Bear Farm, in Powers Lake, WI. That place is also mostly gone now, just a few buildings left that have been turned into expensive homes... the rest of it is empty fields and deserted walkways, with a sad old playground still near the lake. Some places are better left unvisited, except in my memories.


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