Chamber celebrates century of vitality

Hinsdale agency marks a century of supporting local businesses, and, in turn, residents

For 100 years, the Hinsdale Chamber of Commerce has been working to grow and galvanize the village's economic enterprises for the benefit of merchants, residents and all who visit town.

"The chamber helps bolster Hinsdale's reputation as one of the most desirable suburbs in the Chicago area. It's here to see that the reputation continues, by providing services for the demands of our residents, and the organizational network on which the business community thrives," declares the organization on its website,

As has been chronicled in these pages before, the chamber's origins date back to the mid-1910s when a group of local proprietors joined forces as the Commercial Association of Hinsdale, according to "Village on the County Line," Hugh Dugan's 1949 retrospective.

"In various ways, the chamber has furthered the interests of the community," Dugan wrote. "It helps newcomers become acquainted with the town, furnishes festive decorations for the business district at Christmastime, takes charge of the Fourth of July parades and offers its counsel on questions involving conduct and progress in the village."

The group formally established itself as the Hinsdale Chamber of Commerce on May 27, 1924. Executive Director Eva Field said she's enjoyed going through chamber archives in preparation to mark the centennial milestone.

"It's been interesting pulling up some of the information and photos, historic pieces - just to see the downtown business district back then with dirt roads and horses," she said.

The chamber has swelled to almost 300 members today, encompassing retail, dining, professional services and more. Its slate of activities also has expanded over the years, with signature events and calendar highlights including the Hinsdale Fine Arts Festival, the weekly seasonal farmers market, the Uniquely Thursdays outdoor concert series, summer and fall sidewalk sales, the Hinsdale Wine Walk and the Hinsdale Christmas Walk.

The downtown flags display during patriotic holidays is another effort of the chamber, which sponsors educational and networking opportunities for its members as well. As a show of hometown hospitality, the chamber mails a welcome package to all new residents to acquaint them with the village's services and merchants.

"In order to maintain a prosperous, attractive business district, it is necessary that such an organization exist," the chamber asserts.

Dan Janowick, executive director of The Community House, is chairman of the chamber's board of directors this year. He said the chamber helps make Hinsdale a special place.

"Although the mission is to help businesses thrive, I think by extension it improves the quality of life for the residents," said Janowick, who acknowledged he didn't realize the extent of chamber's activity until he joined. "I think people respect the chamber for the work that they've done over the decades."

The fact that the organization is heading into a second century serves a testament to its abiding value.

The chamber will mark the milestone with a celebratory dinner for members later this month.

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean