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Lansing history: The family farm that became Fox Pointe

LANSING, Ill. (March 21, 2023) – Where once cows grazed and horses frolicked on a family farm, now people relax on a manicured lawn. Fox Pointe has been through many changes before becoming the entertainment venue it is today.

The Krumm family farm

It all began in 1850 when Henry Krumm immigrated from Germany, settled in Lansing, Illinois, and built the first business in town – the Union Hotel at Wentworth Avenue and Ridge Road. Henry died in 1886, and his son Charles inherited the hotel. When Charles died, his daughter inherited it and sold it. The building burned down in 1943 and was demolished.

Krumm
The Union Hotel as it stood in 1850. This was Lansing’s first business and was established by Henry Krumm. The structure burned down in 1943. (Photo courtesy of the Lansing Historical Society)

Charles also had a son Edward, who was born in 1880. Edward married Marie Reich in 1909 and the next year purchased and farmed the land bounded on the north by Adams Street, on the east by Henry Street, on the west by the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks and on the south by Lake Street. The family home, barn, and farm buildings were located off Henry Street on Randolph. The Krumm family lived in a home that was about where the Santa House is now located within the Fox Pointe gates.

The Lansing Historical Society reports, “Edward Krumm was a man of many hats.” Not only did he open a farmstand on Burnham Avenue to sell the produce from his farm, but he also worked at the Lansing brickyards in the off season. In 1914 he was a union steward. In 1919 he started a coal delivery service. Ed and his brother Henry even sold coffee and tea door-to-door.

Krumm family farm
The historical note under the photo reads, “Edward Krumm and brother Henry with Sam pulling Edward’s rubber-tired buggy — a strip of rubber around each wheel, ‘where the rubber meets the road.’ Sam earned his oats during the week pulling Edward’s peddler wagon selling coffee and tea from door to door.” (Photo courtesy of the Lansing Historical Society)

Lansing Historian Paul Schultz grew up “almost across the street from the farm.” Schultz recorded his memories of the Krumm farm, and they are stored in files at the Lansing Historical Museum. He wrote: “My mother remembered corn growing along Henry Street. The farm and its buildings were my playground. I played many games of ‘cops and robbers’ and ‘kick the can’ on that property. …We used the corn crib as a jail.”

Krumm family farm
From left: Arthur C. Krumm, Mrs. Marie Krumm, and daughter Margie Krumm in the summer of 1918. The house in the background is the distinctive red brick home still on Henry Street. (Photo courtesy of Herb Krumm and the Lansing Historical Society)

Farm life can be full of surprises. One day Ed came in from the corn field and sat down in his living room. He wanted to send his son to the store, so he reached into his pocket for change. He felt something soft and warm. He grabbed whatever it was and pulled out a lively, squirming snake. That made him shudder and his family laugh. The story made the newspaper!

The Krumm family business

By the early 1920s Ed decided farming just wasn’t enough for him, so in 1923 he founded a coal and building material business. He set up his office on the southeast corner of the farm, across the street from what was then Village Hall and is now Visible Music College.

Krumm
In 1923 Ed Krumm founded a coal and building material business. He set up his office on the southeast corner of the Krumm family farm, across the street from what was then Village Hall and is now Visible Music College. Ed ran that business from 1926 to 1940. This photo shows the building as it looked in 1923. (Photo courtesy of the Lansing Historical Society)
Krumm family
Art Krumm sits in his brother Ed’s 1926 Harvey dump truck. The truck was equipped with a hydraulic hoist to haul stone, sand, and bag cement for local building projects. A January 1947 newspaper ad listed the truck for sale for $195. (Photo provided by the Lansing Historical Society)

In 1926, the Krumm farmland was subdivided into lots, and new homes took over the landscape. The Krumms profited nicely as the materials used to build those homes came from their businesses. For example, the Krumm businesses were involved in building the Shirley Park subdivision in Lansing. Ed’s two horses, Sam and Lindy, were used along with two other teams in excavating basements for new homes.

Near Henry Street the pastures were no longer used for cows. Instead, horses were allowed to graze and romp around when their day’s work was done — as well as on Sundays. Local kids were allowed “horsey back” rides with proper adult supervision. A wire fence kept the horses from running through the neighborhood.

A typical work day might include getting stone from the Thornton Quarry or hauling “torpedo sand” used in the paving of Wentworth Avenue sidewalks. In addition, coal yard employees maintained the bushes and trees in the subdivision between material deliveries or to finish out their work day at the Krumm business.

Ed ran that business from 1926 to 1940. His son Arthur took over in 1940, renamed it Ridgeview Coal and Supply Company, and began selling mixed concrete. In fact, Art Krumm built the first Ready Mix Concrete plant in the village. He went to New York to purchase a load of concrete mixers to be used in the new business. A full page ad in the newspaper announced the opening of the Ready Mix Concrete Service, claiming it to be sold at the area’s most reasonable prices. In 1950 Ridgeview supplied the sewer tiles for the St. John Church project at Wentworth Avenue and Randolph Street.

Lan-Oak Lumber and Supply

In 1954 Art Krumm sold his company to Lan-Oak Lumber and Supply, and Ridgeview became Lan-Oak Concrete and Supply. Lan-Oak Ready Mix Concrete continued operating as part of the Lan-Oak Lumber and Supply Company until they sold the concrete business in the mid-1950s.

Not everyone was happy with the new business, which was looking to locate new facilities near the homes on Washington Street. Neighbors filed a petition in November 1955 complaining of “smoke, dust, and noise from the workmen.” The Village Board discussed the petition at their November 15 meeting, but no compromise was reached. At a second meeting, December 7, the board voted to withhold a permit until the company allayed neighbors’ fears about the noise and dust.

In 1958 a fire caused $50,000 damage when a coal furnace exploded. In addition to the adjoining warehouse and garage, the loss included two ready-mix trucks, about 80 tires, a fork-lift truck, and miscellaneous equipment.

A lengthy strike of the Lake County Indiana Teamster Union 142 in late 1959 proved to be quite profitable to the Lan-Oak cement business. Their drivers belonged to the Chicago Heights local and were not involved in the strike. Lan-Oak Concrete and Supply became swamped with orders from Indiana for concrete, and their drivers were working 14 hours a day.

South County Lumber and Supply

By the late 1960s, Lan-Oak Lumber was replaced by South County Lumber and Supply Company, which moved from 18325 Fred Street (where it had been since 1957). For some reason, in 1970 the company advertised a free wig — a $29.95 value — with the purchase of any style garage. South County continued at the Henry Street address, celebrating its 25th anniversary in 1982.

Fox Lumber

Fox Lumber took over the same site in the mid-1980s and became a major player in the building material business in Lansing. The family-owned business had launched in the 1950s. It operated in Lansing until 1996 when they closed the Lansing location to open locations in Alsip, Oak Lawn, and Frankfort. The Alsip location remains operational even today.

Fox Lumber
Not many photos remain of the Lansing Fox Lumber. It is seen here from Ridge Road, looking north. The black and white Village of Lansing building at the corner of Lake and Henry looks similar today though it now houses Visible Music College. (Photo: Terry Rice)

Once Fox Lumber left, the building remained vacant for about five years, becoming an eyesore in the downtown area. The Village purchased the 3.5-acre property in November 2001 for $187,500 and began discussing what would be the best use of it. They wanted it to be compatible with the three-mile bike path that the park district was planning to run through downtown Lansing.

Plans for the bike path were finally coming together in February 2002 when a Cook County Circuit Court judge issued a final order for the Village to be able to purchase three miles of railroad property. The railroad had originated in 1865, and by 2002 it was owned by Consolidated Rail Corp, Pennsylvania LLC, and Norfolk Southern Railway Co. The Village would pay $406,000 to the County Treasurer of Illinois from tax increment financing (TIF) dollars, plus $197,000 from a grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Lan-0ak Park District would apply for a $932,000 grant from the Chicago Area Transposition Study. The original Krumm home was demolished to make way for the bike path — now known as the Pennsy Greenway — which today connects Calumet City to downtown Lansing, through Fox Pointe.

Developing Fox Pointe

The Village and the Park District hosted a town hall meeting on February 6, 2003, at the Patti Leach Youth Center to seek input from residents and business owners. Non-binding suggestions included townhouses, condominiums, retail stores, offices, and a variety of civic services that could include a gazebo, band shell, fountain, skating rink, greenery, or museums.

First off, the board picked the name Fox Pointe, named for the last business venture on the site. However, as a nod to the Krumm family who had owned the land and contributed to Lansing’s history for so many generations, a section of 181st Street near Fox Pointe was named Honorary Edward Krumm Drive.

Krumm Drive
At the northwest corner of the Fox Pointe property, Honorary Edward Krumm Drive pays tribute to the original family who owned the land. (Photo: Dan Bovino)

It was decided that an open-space plan would best beautify the vacant downtown site. The rubble-strewn field would be converted to a community park, creating a green civic space that would serve as a centerpiece of the community.

ComEd’s Service of Northern Illinois issued a $10,000 grant that Lansing would use to undertake a master plan for Fox Pointe. It would include “designing a functional, environmentally beneficial, permanent open space downtown.”

Autumn Fest

Even before the property was fully developed it was put to good use. A group of citizens planned and produced the first Lansing Autumn Fest in October 2012, setting up a temporary stage and tents in the grassy field. After a successful first fest, the nonprofit Lansing Association for Community Events (LACE) was formed, and they have held Autumn Fest at the same location, as well as other community events.

Krumm family farm
Autumn Fest is an annual event now, held at Fox Pointe. Before Fox Pointe was developed, holding the fest involved setting up tents on what was once the Krumm family farm. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma, 2012)

By November of that year Lansing was advertising for bids to demolish the old Fox Lumber building. Construction for the new Fox Pointe venue began in June of 2017.

Krumm
Construction of the Fox Pointe entertainment venue began in 2017. The distinctive red farmhouse was part of the backdrop in 2017 just as it was for the Krumm family nearly 100 years prior. (Photo: Matthew Splant)

On September 28, 2018, Lansing held a grand opening celebration and ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open Fox Pointe. The multi-million-dollar entertainment space included an outdoor amphitheater, an open-air pavilion, a concession building, and climate-controlled restrooms. The pavilion could accommodate 300 plus people at picnic tables, while the amphitheater’s lawn seating could accommodate more than 2,000.

Fox Pointe
Following the ribbon-cutting, Paul Schultz received the bow on behalf of the Lansing Historical Society. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Fox Pointe
Clockwise from upper left: Fox Pointe is home to an open-air pavilion, an outdoor amphitheater, a concession building, and climate-controlled restrooms. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Fox Pointe entertainment

Lansing hired Tony Troncozo as Fox Pointe Director, and the planning for events began. Twenty-seven events took place in 2019, the first full season. Thirty events were scheduled for 2020, before COVID-19 restrictions limited the plans to only a few socially-distanced events.

In November 2020 the Village Board approved Fox Pointe upgrades totaling $267,701. That included expanding the “too small” concession building, installing additional service windows and security glass, and improving the heating and air conditioning as needed in preparation for the 2021 event season.

National entertainment acts were still reticent to make commitments in 2021, wary of the pandemic. So at Fox Pointe the emphasis was put on local and regional bands.

By 2022 the schedule was full again, with new events and fests added. The 2023 schedule continues the free Wednesday-night concerts while adding a few Friday events that will charge a $10 admission fee.

As concert-goers arrive at Fox Pointe from throughout Lansing and the surrounding area, most will not realize the history of the land where they are setting up their lawn chairs. They will not know the Krumm family name, and they won’t be aware of all the ways the Krumm family farm served Lansing for so many generations. From fresh produce, to building supplies, to live entertainment, the Krumm family’s legacy is one of building community. And that plot of land at the heart of Lansing continues to be a place where community-building can happen today.

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Marlene Cook
Marlene Cook
Marlene Cook is a Lansing resident who loves learning and writing about local history. A member of the Illinois Women's Press Association since 1973, she has won multiple IWPA awards. Her 2020 awards in the Mate E. Palmer Communications Contest included first place for columns and second place for nonfiction book in the history category.

1 COMMENT

  1. Great story, but Fox Lumber had 3 locations other than Lansing at the time. After the village aquired the property the Lansig Public Works started gutting and tearing down parts and used the main storage shed along Henery st. as a storage bin for road salt. Thank you Fox Lumber for the lighting in my garage and another few assorted items ! The Krumm family could never have invisioned what it has become today ! One of the good things Norm Abbott did and continued in this town to end up with this beautiful venue that it is today ! Fox Point.

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