Construction begins on new clubhouse at rebuilt Oak Meadows course
It's been exactly 3,855 days since a fire sparked by a lightning strike destroyed the Tudor-style clubhouse at what had been the Oak Meadows golf course in Addison.
In the decade after the blaze, a lot changed. The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County rebuilt the flood-prone, 27-hole layout, a massive renovation that created a new 18-hole course with restored wetlands and aquatic habitats.
Then the district-owned course got a new name: The Preserve at Oak Meadows.
Now the district is finally filling in the missing piece with construction of a new clubhouse.
"I didn't think I'd ever be standing before you for this wonderful day. It has taken 10 years," Commissioner Marsha Murphy said at a groundbreaking Tuesday. "I can't believe the site has been vacant that long, but we put a lot of planning and effort into it."
The brief ceremony, a toss of the dirt by district and village leaders, didn't quite capture how long it's taken to reach the milestone of replacing the 86-year-old clubhouse.
"It was certainly tough to lose a building of that size, and there was a bit of a knee-jerk reaction at the time that said, 'Let's replace it immediately,'" Executive Director Ed Stevenson said. "Being a conversation agency and a forest preserve district, we decided to take a big step back and look at what we could do to benefit the property first and then build a clubhouse that would suit that property."
The district plans to spend up to $12.6 million on construction of the clubhouse, two years after welcoming golfers to the redesigned Oak Meadows. That $16.8 million project restored a stretch of Salt Creek that flows through the 288-acre property and consolidated two golf courses into 18 holes with greater flood resistance and more stormwater storage capacity.
"We took 10 years because we rebuilt this course," President Daniel Hebreard said. "It now holds 20 million gallons more of flood capacity for the community, and now it does not flood out when you're coming to look to play 18 holes, and we increased our beautiful natural resources to truly make this a fantastic golf preserve."
The district isn't building a replica of the original clubhouse. The design of the new, 18,018-square-foot building is a "version of midcentury modern" architecture, Stevenson said.
A green roof area, wood materials from renewable sources, bird-safe glass and a solar power system on a separate cart storage building will represent the district's conservation mission.
"That old Tudor style was perfect for a private club in the 1930s and 1940s, which the former building was built for," Stevenson said. "But the style of the new building, with the natural materials, large expanses of windows, help us actually match the environment around the building and help us have great views into the star of the show here, which is the revitalized forest preserve property."
He hopes the property will attract a U.S. Open qualifying event or another USGA tournament. When the district acquired it in 1985, the site contained the former Elmhurst Country Club, where golf legend Ben Hogan won the 1941 Chicago Open.
"We want to be involved in golf events, but we also see this building as being a visitor center or a site for some of our other forest preserve district programming," Stevenson said. "It may serve as a starting point and end point for bird walks, full moon hikes, other tours of the property that let people come out and spend time with a naturalist, take pictures of the beautiful environment and habitat here."
The district expects the clubhouse construction to take a year, with an opening scheduled for September 2020.
"It's going to be an absolutely spectacular building when its finished," Murphy said.