Winnetka's history books highlight two tragedies. One is the collision of the Lady Elgin passenger ship with the Augustus lumber ship in 1859, which turned Winnetka homes into makeshift hospitals. The other is the 1988 shooting of six students at Hubbard Woods School by Laurie Dann. The name of one of the children lives on at the Nick Corwin Park.
Things to do
For such a small town, Winnetka has a well-furnished park district. It includes a 27-hole golf course, indoor ice arena, six ball fields, tennis courts and six paddle ball courts. The district also maintains a dog beach, boat launch/sailing center and three swimming beaches.
The ivy-covered Winnetka Community House features a fitness center and gym, and is a favorite venue for parties and weddings.
A variety of restaurants, from casual to white tablecloth, are sprinkled throughout the village. Favorites include the white pizzas at the Trifecta Grill and the waffle cones at Love's Yogurt.
Summertime events include farmers markets, monthly car shows and Music in the Park (Hubbard Woods).
Annual events include the 5K Firecracker Race in June, 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony in September and tree-lighting ceremony in December. Families flock to the daylong, all-village party on July Fourth, which concludes with fireworks.
Open your wallet wide to buy a house in this village, where grand homes dominate tree-lined streets.
The average sale price this year has been $1.32 million. The "Home Alone" house where the 1990 comedy movie was filmed sold earlier this year for about $1.6 million.
Recent sales range from a 1950s fixer-upper that sold for $290,000 to a 2002 four-bedroom house on the lake that went for $4.9 million. Winnetka's houses comprise a field guide to architecture, from Dutch Colonial to foursquare to Tudor.
"We get young families from the city because they're used to living in a pedestrian-friendly place and because of the trains," said Sherry Molitor, agent with Koenig & Strey Real Living in Winnetka. "And we get transferees who want their kids to go to New Trier."
Multifamily homes are scarce, scattered mostly along Green Bay Road.
"Rentals are very expensive and hard to find because some transferees want to rent until they've sold their old houses," said Molitor. The owner of the recently rehabbed Library Place found renters for its five units even though they started at $3,500 a month. The most affordable are over-the-store apartments downtown.
The village recently lifted its ban on renting coach houses, which will open more properties to renters.
Winnetka has three Metra train stations, so most homeowners are within walking distance of one of them. Pace runs two bus routes through the village.
The Winnetka Public Schools District 36 serves kindergarten through eighth grade at five schools that are grade-centered. Three schools serve grades K through 4, one serves grades 5 and 6, and one serves grades 7 and 8.
High-school students attend New Trier High School's campus in Northfield for 9th grade and the Winnetka campus for grades 10 through 12. Its list of alumni includes actors Rock Hudson and Rainn Wilson and politicians Donald Rumsfeld and Rahm Emanuel.
Private schools include North Shore Country Day School (pre-K-12), Sacred Heart School (pre-K-8) and The School of Saints Faith, Hope & Charity (pre-K-8).
The Hadley School for the Blind has been a North Shore icon since 1920.