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.
Cameel Halim is a respected presence in the Chicago real estate sphere who has overseen numerous development projects that achieved urban restoration goals. Cameel Halim is currently in the process of launching the Halim Time & Glass Museum. The museum features glass pieces by noted manufacturers such as Thomas Webb & Son, as well as antique timepieces.
The pocket watch has its origins in the early 15th century, when a coiled spring was invented in Germany as a way of increasing functionality in locks. The spring quickly crossed over to the clockmaking sphere, as it allowed a device to be wound in ways that stored energy for release over an extended period.
While the main spring enabled the creation of clocks small enough to fit in the hand, it did not solve the issue of a movement that ran at a constant rate as the spring wound down. With the “Nuremberg Egg,” an egg-sized timepiece introduced around 1530, for decades time deviations each day were measured in the hours, rather than in minutes.
This all changed in 1675 with Christiaan Huygens’ invention of the “hair spring” or “balance wheel” mechanism, which absorbed energy output from the main-spring and released it at a constant rate that ultimately allowed the creation of minute hands.
Cameel Halim, a civil engineering graduate of Cairo University, is the president of CH Ventures, LLC, in Wilmette, Illinois, and owner of the Halim Time and Glass Museum in Evanston. Beyond his professional activities, Cameel Halim enjoys engaging with the local community, once saving a local historic home from demolition.
In 2005, a historic Chicago-area home was stripped of windows, appliances, and other vintage fixtures before property developer Antoinette Vigilante put the building up for sale. Vigilante had considered demolishing the building at 157 Kenilworth Avenue, which was designed by renowned Chicago architect Daniel H. Burnham, though this possible outcome was met with considerable outcry from preservationists and the local public. Kenilworth has no laws governing the preservation of historical landmarks; however, the town was able to delay demolition for more than half a year.
Mr. Halim ultimately purchased the house for $2.35 million. The sale represented a collaboration between Halim and Vigilante, who sold the property at a considerable loss, and was made possible thanks to the village of Kenilworth, which worked to reimburse Vigilante for between $40,000 and $50,000 in fees. The sale was recognized with a small celebration at the home by citizens and preservationists.
The owner of the newly-opened Halim Family Museum of Time & Glass in Evanston, Illinois, Cameel Halim employs his real estate experience to save local historic buildings. Alongside working to prevent the destruction of old houses in the Kenilworth area, Cameel Halim has also revitalized old and run-down buildings of little significance, such as common-corridor apartments on Kenmore Avenue in Edgewater.
The Edgewater Community Council became concerned about certain buildings on Kenmore Avenue which were becoming a blight on the neighborhood. These buildings included a particularly problematic series of common-corridor apartments, which have all the apartment doors opening out into a single corridor. Their existence contributed substantially to the area’s slipping reputation.
So far 17 of the 47 common-corridor buildings have changed ownership and been rehabilitated. Low acquisition costs allow the new owners to offer the renovated apartments for reasonably low rents to tenants who have been screened for the likelihood of stability. One of the buildings also serves as the location for an artists-in-residence program headed by Jack O’Callaghan.
These efforts continue to bear fruit in the neighborhood, bringing back its respectability and driving out undesirable elements. The new owners’ success also proves that buildings and neighborhoods in economically challenged areas can gain new life through investment and committed rehabilitation efforts.
St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church
After he and his wife began purchasing apartment buildings in 1974, Cameel Halim successfully increased the value of his properties and eventually established CH Ventures, LLC, a business still in operation today. An active member of his community, Cameel Halim supports several local institutions, including St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church.
In 1960, a group of Egyptians came to the United States with the hope of establishing a church in the Chicagoland area. They successfully did so, initially founding St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church in Roselle before moving to Burr Ridge in 1982 following construction of a new church. Observing Orthodox Christianity, St. Mark’s typically unites 700 families each Sunday for service.
At each service, the church offers a liturgy with a traditional repertoire and Coptic Orthodox hymnology. During the service, parishioners pass the offering plate and are invited to make donations. The service, which lasts two hours, includes readings from a variety of tomes, including Gospels, Psalms, the Acts of the Apostles, and the Pauline Epistles.
Upon completion of the readings, parishioners listen to a sermon focusing on the Gospel of the day. The service concludes with the Holy Communion. Children are always welcome to attend the liturgy or go to Sunday School, depending upon their age.