After the stock market crash of 1929, which ushered soaring unemployment and eventual economic depression, a simple wood framed real estate office opened its doors in Park Ridge, Illinois. William B. Sebastian and his son, Joseph Sebastian, employed the centuries old mentality of pulling yourself by your bootstraps and began a tradition of community based integrity continuing to this very day. The story of Sebastian Co. Real Estate, which has grown from its unassuming beginnings to a modern, two story office, is a tale of simple endurance and loyal service in the Chicago land area.

The Sebastians immigrated to America in the latter half of the nineteenth century, sailing from Germany with a flood of other hard-working immigrants and ultimately becoming one of the first families to settle in what is now Buffalo Grove. The Sebastians later moved from Buffalo Grove to Chicago where William Sebastian wed an Irish immigrant, Mary Byrne, and together raised ten children.

At the same time, William started a livery service on Halsted Street on the north side of Chicago. Shortly afterwards though, horses gave way to Henry Ford horse power and William moved his family from Chicago to a farmhouse on the southern end of Park Ridge -- a town the family had often visited as a relief from city life. It was here the Sebastians planted roots and matriculated, witnessing and fueling the city's growth. The late Joseph Sebastian often reminisced about his early days in Park Ridge: the patriotism that swept the city during World War I, the prohibition era parties held at his father's house and the warm summer evenings enjoyed around a barrel of beer and bucket of pretzels near the future site of Maine South High School. But the good times for a country and a local community couldn't last forever.

Economic dire straits spread quickly to the Chicago area following the 1929 crash. The Sebastians lent a hand by giving sandwiches to the homeless and vagrant. William and Joseph also threw caution to the wind and opened what was then William B. Sebastian Real Estate. Despite a tattered economy, the real estate industry thrived. At one time there were as many as eighty Sebastian "For Sale" signs adorning lawns, rescuing many local homeowners from bank foreclosure. William retired in 1934. A mere two years later he passed away leaving the company to his son, Joseph. That same year, 1936, Joseph married Magdalene Pleiss and together they raised five children in Park Ridge.

When World War II struck the United States in 1941, Chicago area men and women answered Uncle Sam's call to service. Joseph, unable to serve in the armed services, oversaw the Boeing Airplane Factory in the evening and continued running the real estate office during the day. The stress of the war and post-war years stretched Joseph and the company thin, yet both endured the difficult times.

 
History Continued...

The 1950s brought a sense normalcy to not only the country, but the real estate industry also as more and more people sought their dreams. A sense of regularity fell upon the business. The building, however, experienced a minor tragedy. In 1954, a milk truck crashed into the real estate office, located at the lively intersection of Devon and Talcott avenues, leaving broken glass and plenty of spilled milk. No one was seriously injured and despite the damage, Joseph often recalled the event with a smile.

The year 1959 saw Joseph Jr., the eldest of the family, take up the family business. A decade later, Joseph Sr.'s second son, Donald, joined his father and brother. Then, in 1976, the man who helped start Sebastian Co. Real Estate and spent 46 years running the business retired, handing the company over to his sons.

In 1980, Hollywood came to Sebastian Co. in the form of "The Blues Brothers." A scene from the iconic film, which was shot in and around Chicago, took place in Park Ridge. A traffic stop in Park Ridge by the Illinois State Police quickly escalates into the movie's first car chase, as Jake and Elwood Blues spin their car around in the intersection where Sebastian Co. sits. You can clearly make out the real estate company in the scene.

The Sebastian Co. Real Estate office also expanded in 1980. With greater space came a renewed vitality, fresh agents mingled with seasoned veterans and Sebastian Co. Real Estate thrived. As it did ten years earlier, in 1994 the building underwent a second remodeling. The brothers Sebastian -- Joe Jr. and Don -- updated their father and grandfather's modest, wood-framed office into the modern, twenty-first century real estate office it is today.

Sadly, in September 2000, Joseph Sr. passed away. He was 90. Joseph Sr. was not only an exemplary businessman, but an outstanding human being as well. In addition to fathering five children with his wife of 60 years, Magdalene, who passed away in 1996, Joseph Sr. enjoyed many memories with his fourteen grandchildren and twelve great-grandchildren. Today, the extended Sebastian family has grown to sixteen great-grandchildren.

When not building a family or business, Joseph Sr. helped build a community. He served as Maine Township Constable and later justice of the peace. Joseph Sr. witnessed nearly an entire century with Sebastian Co. Real Estate, the decades of experience and knowledge he accrued are passed on to every man and woman employed by the company.

In the Fall of 2002, Don's oldest son, Don Jr., began his career with Sebastian Co. Real Estate joining his cousin, Joseph Jr.'s daughter, Karen. The addition of the fourth generation brings not only a renewed legacy of local, family-based service, but also a youthful perspective for the new century.

As president and managing broker of Sebastian Co. Real Estate, Don Sr. continues this legacy his father and grandfather brought to the Chicagoland area. To this day, Sebastian Co. Real Estate maintains the same foundation of loyalty and integrity embedded in the company 81 years ago. It's an office rich with history that constantly strides towards the future in an effort to help its customer and community.