The recipient of a bachelor’s in civil engineering from Cairo University, Cameel Halim is a distinguished real estate investor who serves as president of Illinois’ CH Ventures, LLC. Along with his wife and family, Cameel Halim is a passionate timepiece and stained glass collector who recently opened the Halim Time & Glass Museum to display his extensive collection, which includes masterpiece windows from acclaimed American artists including Mary Tillinghast.
Born in 1845, Tillinghast traveled extensively throughout Europe and studied painting in Paris under Emile-Auguste Carolus-Duran, who also taught American painter John Singer Sargent. Tillinghast began making decorative glass window art in 1878 upon forging a partnership with fellow painter and muralist John La Farge. Through seven years of working with La Farge, Tillinghast became an expert in textile design and worked in an executive role with the La Farge Decorative Art Company.
Working out of her Greenwich Village studio, she designed numerous windows for churches, residences, and institutions, some of which earned gold medals at various world’s fairs. Tillinghast’s first major project, Jacob’s Dream, was installed in New York City’s Grace Episcopal Church in 1887. Her other notable windows include Urania and The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, which were installed in the Allegheny Observatory and the New York Historical Society, respectively.
Halim Time and Glass Museum
An avid collector of stained glass and timepieces outside of his career as a real estate investor, Cameel Halim unveiled his art collection to the public at the opening of the Halim Time and Glass Museum on September 26, 2017. Cameel Halim’s museum, which is located in Evanston, Illinois, has been profiled in New York Times articles in both 2016 and 2017.
The first article, published on July 7, 2016, focused on several of the stained-glass windows that were set to be displayed at the then yet-to-be-opened museum. The article specifically discussed the process of rescuing and restoring these windows, some of which were so dirty that they were completely obscured. Among the rescued pieces that now belong to the museum are those by John La Farge and George Washington Maher, as well as frequently overlooked designers such as Mary Tillinghast and Frederick Wilson.
In 2017, days after the museum opened, The New York Times published a second article. Titled A Collector’s Dream: Creating Your Own Museum as a Legacy, the article details the motivation for opening a private institution such as the Halim Time and Glass Museum. According to the newspaper, the inspiration for the Evanston museum was to provide a way to display a collection of art that took its founder three decades to develop. By sharing with the public the hundreds of pieces in this collection, Halim and the museum aim to provide a comprehensive overview of three centuries of timepieces and stained glass.
As head of CH Ventures, LLC, in Chicagoland, Cameel Halim has pursued numerous development projects that involved the value-driven restoration and rehabilitation of historic buildings. Cameel Halim was featured in a 2006 Chicago Sun-Times article that focused on his and his daughter Nefrette’s successful efforts to save the Skiff Home on 157 Kenilworth, in a storied northern suburb of Chicago.
The late 19th century prairie-style home was envisioned by Daniel Burnham, a well-known local architect who was director of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition and creator of the Chicago Plan. Unfortunately, a wave of knock downs of historic Kenilworth homes was gaining momentum and the Skiff Home was undergoing a pre-demolition sell-off auction organized by a local developer. This involved the sale of moldings, doorknobs, and even staircase banisters.
The residence was saved at the last hour, as pressure from Citizens for Kenilworth caused the developer to reconsider her plans and agree to negotiate the sale of the Arts & Crafts home to Mr. Halim. The sale was a small victory, considering the larger issue in which Kenilworth civic leaders were unwilling to institute the landmark and historic district ordinances set in place by neighborhoods such as Lake Forest, claiming that they impinged on property owners’ rights.
CH Ventures, LLC
Based in Wilmette, Illinois, Cameel Halim guides CH Ventures, LLC, and maintains a focus on projects that improve Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods. A 1982 article in the Chicago Tribune brought focus to Cameel Halim’s unique approach to real estate and his commitment to rehabilitation in areas that suffered from a poor image and were difficult to develop in.
One such thoroughfare was Kenmore Avenue, which runs through the Edgewater and Uptown neighborhoods and had many gang-controlled buildings. Looking beyond the area’s reputation, Mr. Halim personally connected with an Edgewater Community Council member and learned about the efforts that were underway to make the area a better place to live.
Focusing on the integrity of the neighborhood, Mr. Halim’s team undertook a painstaking restoration process that brought the common-corridor buildings back to structural soundness while maintaining historic exteriors. Original bathroom fixtures were kept, while woodwork, landscaping, and parquet floors were replaced and rehabilitated. The newly remodeled apartments were rented out at reasonable rates, which reflected the low price of the original acquisition, not the quality of the units.
Halim Time and Glass Museum
A real estate investor for over four decades, Cameel Halim serves as president of CH Ventures LLC. A timepiece collector, Cameel Halim has a collection of over 600 clocks and 200 pocket watches on display at the Halim Time and Glass Museum.
The museum showcases ancient timepieces from different periods in history, most dating prior to 1800. Objects on display include a rare elephant clock from the 17th century, which features a man tied to a tree. Every hour, the man is circled by a lion and a leopard, signifying the “death of the hour.”
Other clocks that stand out include an English skeleton clock enclosed in a glass dome that was shattered during World War II, when the Germans bombed London. The dome has since been glued back together. Another English clock keeps time as a marble zigzags along a track every 30 seconds.
Men and Wristwatches
Since he began buying properties with his wife in 1974, Cameel Halim has become a respected real estate presence in Chicago, where he oversees the operations of CH Ventures, LLC. A watch and timepiece enthusiast, Cameel Halim has been collecting vintage and antique watches for decades, many of which are showcased in his Halim Time and Glass Museum in Evanston, Illinois.
Throughout much of history, wristwatches were specifically created for and worn by women. This tradition began in 1571, when England’s Queen Elizabeth I was gifted an “arm watch” by Robert Dudley. The watch design became known as a wristlet. It was small, delicate, and was worn by noblewomen. Men viewed such watches as inappropriate for their sex, and carried pocket watches instead. This preference would go on for centuries.
Everything changed, beginning with the wars of the 20th century. During the Boer War of 1899-1902 and World War I, pocket watches proved an inconvenience in the air, on the water, and in the trenches. Soldiers were given wrist watches, which were basically pocket watches attached to leather straps that wrapped around the wrist, to help them coordinate with military movements during attacks. These wristwatches became the watches of choice for service men in all wars in the early 20th century. When the guns fell silent, thousands of men returned home with wristwatches, turning them into an accepted everyday accessory.
With more than 40 years of experience buying, renovating, and selling properties, Cameel Halim serves as president of CH Ventures, LLC, a real estate development company he runs with his wife in Wilmette, Illinois. Of his many projects, Cameel Halim works to save historic homes from demolition. One of these properties was in the Chicago suburb of Kenilworth.
Mr. Halim’s daughter, as part of her position in the community group Citizens for Kenilworth, led the charge to keep the Skiff Home, designed by the firm of famed architect Daniel Burnham, from demolition. After many years in real estate, Mr. Halim began his foray into this form of activism in response to his daughter’s passion to save the property. He previously had hoped to purchase the 1908 dwelling, but found the asking price of more than 2 million dollars too great. It was when he saw his daughter’s despair at the high likelihood that the property would be razed that he took steps to save the home, which was accomplished less than a week out from the set demolition date.