The Corner has had an interesting history. Fox Lake’s downtown shopping area started at the corner of Main Street and Nippersink Boulevard. It quickly sprang to life when the railroad tracks arrived. Trains meant people and people meant business.
In time, “Main Street” was renamed “Grand Avenue.” One of the first stores was owned by John Brown who became Fox Lake’s first mayor. The immediate stores on both sides of the corner have contributed greatly to the community through the decades.
The Corner was only in existence for a short time. Many of the buildings burned to the ground in 1917. It was quickly rebuilt with more substantial buildings that have survived fire and other tests of time and age.
The Corner has been home for many different businesses. Names like National Tea, Walgreens, U.S. Post Office, General Finance Loans, A&P Store, and Gambles blended with local flavor such as Incognito, Moka Lisa, Rose Drug Store, Club Irene, Fox Lake State Bank, along with florists, shoe stores, barbers and more. While some businesses had a short life span, many others survived the challenges of small business and thrived.
During its “resort community” heyday, this downtown area was a major hub of activity. The era of shopping malls, big box stores and strip malls has challenged small community downtowns—and Fox Lake is no different. Times have changed, and Fox Lake’s downtown remains on a journey still being written. As it was 100 years ago, the Corner by the all-important railroad station has many possibilities yet to be explored.
Part of the Village’s early growth was stymied by the water. The town ended near Oak Street at the Nippersink/Pistakee shoreline. In order to cross the water, one would have to travel to either Johnsburg or Antioch. Some people and vehicles were ferried across on flatboats.
For years, some businessmen were concerned that a bridge could take business out of town. They preferred to keep it as a dead-end. When a bridge was finally built, it was made of wood, since there were steel shortages because of World War I.