About Fort Sheridan
Fort Sheridan was purchased in 1887 by the Commercial Club of Chicago (a group of elite businessmen promoting economic development) and donated to the federal government in hopes to create a military base near the city. Construction of the Fort began in 1888. By 1889, Congress delegated $300,000 for construction of permanent structures to accommodate 6 infantry companies and 4 cavalry troops, a wharf, a water tower, a cemetery, and a rifle range. Holabird & Roche was commissioned as the architectural firm to design the distinguished buildings of Fort Sheridan.
The area was first named Camp Highwood, but was later renamed Fort Sheridan after Philip H. Sheridan, a Civil War hero and commanding general, who supported the project. President Grover Cleveland named the post in honor of General Sheridan. He became the only person in the Army to have had a fort named for him during his lifetime.
There are 714 total acres in Fort Sheridan. Two parcels of 114 acres continue to serve Army Reserve missions. The Navy purchased 185 acres for military housing and offices. 415 acres remained a surplus, of which 230 acres were designated as a National Historic Landmark District and the remainder is open space. Lastly, 290 acres were transferred to the Lake County Forest Preserve, of which 60 acres were within the National Historic Landmark District.
From 1898 through the Spanish-American War and WWII, the base became a mobilization, training, and administration center. 500,000 men and women were processed through the Fort. From 1953 through the 1970s, the Fort fought the Cold War, servicing and supplying all of the NIKE antimissile systems in the Midwest.
In 1988, the Fort was slated to be closed and finally ceased all operations in 1993.
Over the course of the next few years and through a series of meetings, portions of the Fort's areas were divided to be under the jurisdictions of the adjacent cities of Highwood and Highland Park. Land occupied by the Fort golf course, including much of the former parade grounds and airfield, was transferred to the Lake County Forest Preserve with the restriction that the golf course should remain in perpetuity. The Forest Preserve subsequently choose not to honor this requirement and closed and removed the course.
Most of the existing historic buildings and open properties were sold to individual developers. These developers renovated and resold the homes and buildings in the historic district or built new homes on vacant land.
Today the Fort is an active community with a mixture of historic and newer homes and is served by a Master Homeowners Association.
Retired Facts From Did you know...
George Patton is presumed to have lived at 3655 Leonard Wood E when he was stationed at the Fort as a Lieutenant. The only proof of this, however, is apparently a single photo showing him sitting on that porch.
During its nearly 100-year history as a Fort, metal, other materials, and possibly munitions found their way into the waters off the Fort's beach and remain a potential hazard to this day. For this reason, the beach at the Fort is open to the public but entering or swimming in the water is not allowed.
When it closed, the Fort included an 18-hole golf course, occupying much of the parade grounds and areas on the north side of the Fort. The property was deeded to the Lake County Forest Preserve with the single restriction that the golf course be maintained by the Forest Preserve in perpetuity. The reserve maintained the course for a few years, then decided to ignore the deed restriction and remove the course entirely, much to the dismay of north shore residents whom each year had enjoyed playing golf here.