Club History - A Timeline
Established in 1934, the Dunham Woods Riding Club has an interesting history that contributes to making it a truly special place in the Chicago suburbs. Over the years a number of the amenities have been added to the property to serve our members and their families.
The Beginnings: 1836 - 1934
Our building was constructed in 1836 by Solomon Dunham, who with his wife and six children, drove in a covered wagon from New York to find a home in the newly opened lands of Illinois.
Known then as “Oaklawn Farm” the original three hundred acres grew to nearly two thousand and the Dunhams became internationally known as an importer and breeder of French coach and Percheron horses, as many as five hundred being stabled here at one time.
With the coming of the farm tractor, the importation and breeding of Percheron horses became a business of the past. In the spring of 1932 the old red brick house was restored and redecorated. The stables, stately woods and farmlands lent themselves to the increased interest in riding and in 1934 a group of Wayne and Geneva residents formed the Dunham Woods Riding Club, leasing the original Dunham home.
The Story Continues: 1950-1979
When fire destroyed the old coach house in 1950, the club, with the help of insurance proceeds, purchased the Inn. The purchase included the residence, lower barn, swimming pool, tennis courts and land.
In 1957, a bond issue was sold to the members for the purpose of adding the Gray Room, Dining Room and constructing a new kitchen. All the bonds were subsequently paid off prior to maturity.
In 1961, the Wayne-DuPage Hunt was instrumental in purchasing more land from Dunham, Inc., including the kennels and upper barn. The purchase was made in the name of Dunham Woods Riding Club. Even more acreage was purchased in 1975. These later acquisitions, with the barns, riding rings, indoor ring, outside course, tenant house and the new pole barn are leased by the Wayne-DuPage Hunt.
In 1979, the Dunham Woods Riding Club, including the four corners at the intersection of Army Trail and Dunham Roads, together with the Castle and outbuildings, was mentioned for and accepted into the National Register of Historic Places.
Dunham Woods lives up to its historic past, while meeting the needs of today’s members and their families. The main clubhouse as well as all of the buildings on the 43-acre property are consistently being maintained and upgraded while adhering to historic preservation standards.
The new amenities, such as Corky’s, the lodge built in 2014, and the new Hunt kennel built in 2015 were both reviewed by the internal aesthetics committee and the Wayne Historic Sites Commission during the initial planning stages.
The club’s Board of Governors and the Strategic Planning Committee have developed long range plans with the input from our annual members surveys, external consultants, and our various committees. Current year plans include the reconstruction of the front portico and a remodel of the entrance foyer. Future areas now under review are the expansion and upgrades to the pool area and the possible addition of a new members lounge.
The landscaping and maintenance of our outside grounds have always been a top priority. The addition of new brick walkways and enhanced landscaping over the past 5-10 years have only improved what was already a great outside environment. The board and members are dedicated to continuing traditions while updating the club with amenities that make Dunham Woods Riding Club truly unique.