Q: What is the oldest public school building in Elmhurst?
A: Lincoln School at 565 Fairfield was built at a cost of $16,482 in 1916 is the oldest public school building in Elmhurst. The four-room school was designed by the local architectural firm of Brydges and Somers. There have been numerous additions since the school opened.
Q: I know Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke at Elmhurst College in July 1966. Do you have any information about it?
A: Dr. King spoke to 1,200 people in the college’s Hammerschmidt Chapel on July 8, 1966. The program was sponsored by the Coordinating Council of Community Organizing and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in cooperation with an ad hock committee of west suburban residents, some of whom lived in Elmhurst. The speech was part of a whirlwind tour in the Chicago area to promote a civil rights rally at Soldier’s Field the following Sunday. In 2006 Elmhurst College placed a bronze plaque in Hammerschmidt Chapel to commemorate Dr. King’s speech on the campus.
Q: When was Clarence D. East field dedicated?
A: York Community High School’s athletic field, on the southwest corner of St. Charles and Spring Roads, was dedicated in October 1958. The field was named after Clarence D. East, who came to York in 1920 as the only coach for football, basketball, baseball and swimming. He started coaching track in 1924. East was York’s first Athletic Director and held that position 1939-1954. He continued teaching math and coaching track until his retirement in 1956. During his 36-year tenure at York led the basketball team to 2 league championships; the football team to multiple conference titles; and the track team to 10 district titles, 8 conference titles, 3 Illinois State relay championships and 11 individual State Track champions.
Q: Does anyone remember when John F. Kennedy came to York High School when he ran for president?
A: U.S. Senator John F. Kennedy visited Elmhurst on October 25, 1960 while campaigning for his presidency. Elmhurst was his last of several stops in traditionally Republican Chicago suburbs. An estimated 6,000 people turned out for Kennedy’s visit in Elmhurst, with an additional 5,000 unable to get in the venue - York Community High School. Senator Paul Douglas and gubernatorial candidate Otto Kerner accompanied Kennedy on the campaign trail that day. The main subject of Kennedy’s speech in Elmhurst was the decline of American prestige under the Eisenhower administration.
Q: When was Roosevelt School built, and when was it razed?
A: Roosevelt School (pictured at right) was built circa 1922 and was designed by Elmhurst architect E Norman Brydges, who designed several school buildings in Elmhurst and the Chicagoland area. Roosevelt School closed in 1979, and it was razed in April/May 1980. It is now the site of Marjorie Davis Park.
Q: Was there a school in the basement of St. Peter's Church?
A: St. Peter’s German Evangelical Church (now St. Peter’s United Church of Christ) was organized in Elmhurst in 1876. The congregation opened a school and built a schoolhouse in 1877. The parochial school was in operation until circa 1922; however, a new schoolhouse was built in 1893 to replace the original one. Both schoolhouses were in close proximity to the church building, which stands on the northeast corner of Cottage Hill Avenue and Church Street.
Q: Where did Elmhurst students attend high school before High School District No. 88 was organized in 1918?
A: Elmhurst Public School, later re-named Hawthorne School, was built in 1888 on Cottage Hill Avenue, north of Arthur Street. Originally for students through 8th grade, the school district added a two-year high school program in 1894. An addition consisting of four classrooms, two recitation rooms, a Library, etc., was made to the Elmhurst Public School circa 1905 to house the high school students. It was known as Elmhurst High School.
Q: Is it true that Carl Sandburg came to Elmhurst for the dedication of Sandburg Junior High School?
A: Yes, Elmhurst Junior High School opened in September 1950, and was renamed as Carl Sandburg Junior High in May 1960. Sandburg (pictured at right), the Pulitzer Prize winning poet and former Elmhurst resident, visited the school on May 4, 1960 to participate in the renaming ceremony. Sandburg, which is now known as a Middle School, is celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2011. See the Historic Highlights feature for more information.
Q: What do you know about the "March to Edison"?
A: Edison School was a new Elmhurst School District facility that was under construction in 1956, and was not completed in time for the new school year in September. Therefore, Edison students attended Washington School, in their own separate space, until the school was ready. At the end of October or early November, the Edison students paraded from Washington School to their newly-completed school in the Brynhaven Subdivision.
Q: An insurance company purchased the Old Field School that was located on the corner of York and Third and renovated the school for their use. Was the insurance building razed or renovated for City Hall?
A: The original Field School was built circa 1911 on a large lot on the southeast corner of York and Third Streets, and operated as a school until 1949. The Motor Vehicle Casualty Company purchased the former school building for its offices circa 1951. The company outgrew the space and built a large addition - fronting York Street - just west of the former school circa 1960. The addition was attached to the Old Field School building. By March 1990 the building at 209 N York, then owned by Providence Washington Insurance, was for sale. Elmhurst developers, Walsh Partners, proposed purchasing and renovating the building for use as City Hall, and the proposal passed. The front of the building (on York) was extensively renovated, and the former Field School building to the east was demolished. The newly remodeled City Hall opened in January 1992.
Q: How did the "Dukes" of York High School get their nickname?
A: The answer is found in Sports Tidbits in the Elmhurst Press (December 24, 1936) written by sports editor Howard C. Fischer. The Elmhurst Press covered York High School sports, and each week the newspaper staff used nicknames for York’s teams i.e. The Eastmen (after Coach Clarence D. East), the Yorkites, the green and whites (for the school colors), etc. In his column Fischer wrote: You doubtless read in the metropolitan papers about two weeks ago that King Edward evacuated the British throne, and that his brother, the Duke of York, climbed into the stately chair in his stead, leaving York without a duke...Why not populate York with a lot of dukes? By that I mean I mean why not let York high school athletic teams be known as the Dukes of York?...York’s athletes have gone by such monikers as the Eastmen, Blackmen, Birksmen, Green and White and Yorkites long enough. It is time they be given a name and Dukes is as good as any. An article titled “York Dukes Prep for Holiday Cage Meet at De Kalb” appeared next to Mr. Fischer’s column, thus inaugurating the new name for York athletes.
Q: When was Washington School razed and what now exists on that site?
A: Washington School, located at Poplar Avenue and May Street, opened in January 1929. Due to declining enrollment and life-safety remodeling requirements, Washington and Roosevelt Schools were sold to Elmhurst Park District as part of an inter-governmental agreement to preserve open space in the community. Washington School was demolished in 1980. The property is now known as Washington Park and is owned and operated by the Elmhurst Park District.
Q: I am seeking the history of Crestview School.
A: Crestview Elementary School, at 300 E Belden, opened circa 1967. Originally in School District No. 3, it became part of Elmhurst Community Unit School District No. 205 in 1974. Due to declining enrollment, the school closed in June 1979. The Korean Zion Presbyterian Church purchased the building from the school district in 1979.
Q: When was the land for Emerson school annexed to the City of Elmhurst?
A: The land was annexed in 1953. Please see Annexation Map (PDF) in the historical maps section.