A Tankful of History

Note – This article is about the almost completed, brand new Service Station Exhibit in the Town Square. One important piece is missing though – a gas station served trucks!  The Museum needs your help to #BringHomeTheTruck – keep reading to discover how one lonely gas station changed the face of Buffalo Grove.

As long as there have been cars, there have been gas stations, and in the early 1930s, Buffalo Grove got a station all its own.


Located on what would one day be [exact address of Boston Market on 83], the Welter Service station was the only commercial stop for miles in any direction. The building itself was originally a part of St. Mary’s rectory, but was detached and sent down the road when the rectory was remodeled. Surrounding it was farmland, open fields, and not a lot else – Buffalo Grove was known back then as the dairy supply for Chicago.


Meet Frank Welter, b. 1887, and his wife Josephine Hoenner, b. 1893. They opened this lonely gas station in the early 1930s, and would have served the cars and gas-powered farming equipment of the entire county. In their shop, patrons could by a few things, cigarettes, cans of oil, the occasional toy, but for the most part would have to make the additional trip to the Weidner General Store for supplies. Unlike today’s busy shopping malls and commercial buildings lining Route 83, fueling the truck or purchasing train tickets would have been quite the event.


As you can see from this GoogleMap image, Buffalo Grove has grown a bit. Like many suburbs and cities across the country, gas stations have sprung up on one (if not all four) corners of many major intersections. They fit into our daily commutes and schedules without much thought – driving longer than 10 minutes to fuel the old pickup is today’s ‘inconvenient trip.’

One fill’er’up in a county may seem inconvenient today, but Frank Welter’s station was a critical step in the development of Buffalo Grove. The eight years that the Welter station operated saw a plethora of changes in its time: this lonely little station paved the way for more domestic settlements, made travelling downtown for work and fun more feasible, and allowed for greater variety of consumer goods; now supply trucks could make the trip out from the major supply routes, refill and be on their way again. Big impact from a little station!

After Frank and Josephine closed the station, the building once again changed professions. Having gone from rectory to homestead gas station, it then became the home of the Welters’ youngest daughter Gladys and local barber Ed Gerschefske. After they married in June of 1943, they moved into the old service station and operated a barbershop together.


blog cover truck


Help #fuelthetruck with #TruckBucks! Donate to the Friends of the Park HERE (Designate to the Raupp Museum!) and complete the exhibit – Let’s bring the truck home!

Today, gas stations have cropped up at most major intersections, and fit into our daily travel paths and schedules without much thought – but this way of life was only possible after the first stations paved the way. Help us preserve this important piece of Buffalo Grove’s History!

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Criminally Good Cheese

Down at 150 West Dundee Road sits over 125 years of history. Currently the site of Park Jun’s Beauty Lab, this building — featured in our Buffalo Grove: Then and Now program, has through the decades been used as offices, commercial spaces, and even a fur shop in the late 1970s.


Image courtesy Google Map Street View, 2012

A century ago, however, this building already stood –as the Weidner Creamer and Cheese Factory. The photo below, taken circa 1890, is from when the building was owned by John Baptiste, or “J.B,” Weidner. In this era, according to notes from Leroy Raupp (from Raupp Museum’s permanent collection), “most everyone were dairy farmers.”

The Creamery or Cheese Factory, c. 1890 on Dundee Road, owned by John Baptiste “J.B.” Weidner from Raupp Museum permanent collection

The Creamery or Cheese Factory, c. 1890 on Dundee Road, owned by John Baptiste “J.B.” Weidner
from Raupp Museum permanent collection

He and his wife Susanna Raupp, the daughter of Melchior Raupp (b. 1862), took advantage of the plethora of dairy farms in the surrounding area and began to manufacture cheese and other processed dairy goods.

Leroy Raupp spoke briefly of the “cheese factory” in a transcribed interview, dating from the late 70s:

“Cheese factory – building still there. On Dundee Road just west of Buffalo Grove on the north side where they presently sell fur coats. In 1944 my dad could’ve bought the neighbor farm on Arlington Heights road for $125 an acre but he didn’t have any money. He tried to save his own farm which was 80 acres on Arlington Heights Road.

[when asked if the family took milk to Wheeling and the Soo line train] No that was before his time. Last dairy was on Milwaukee Avenue past River Road. Started picking up at farms in later years.”

When the price of milk began to rise, Weidner was forced to close the factory, but the building itself stands intact and in use by the community today.

Oral tradition around this building also informs us that the first jail of Buffalo Grove – as well as the first police headquarters – was located in the basement of this building, around the same time that the Weidner family operated their Cheese Factory.

Know more about this story? Have pictures of 150 W Dundee through the years? Share them with us! Contact us via Facebook, call us at (847) 459-2318 or email us at museum@bgparks.org

Author: Casey Faist