During the early years of development in Schaumburg Township, it wasn’t just houses that were being built at a furious clip, it was schools too.   On April 3, 1958  F & S Construction–who was the developer of the early homes in Hoffman Estates–and the District 54 school board announced plans for the construction of the 5th and largest school yet in the elementary district.

The announcement was dramatic in that the school was desperately needed but also because the design was so unique.  Fridstein and Fitch, the architects commissioned by F & S, were instructed to design a 12 room school that conformed with the elongated, narrow property that ran along the east side of Illinois Blvd at Schaumburg Road. 

What they initially came up with was a double hexagonal design with 6 classrooms in each hexagon with doors leading to the outside.  The two hexagons were connected by a central area for office space, restrooms and a lobby.

More than 80 percent of the sides were glass and the roof had enough of an overhang so that classrooms did not receive direct sunlight.  Each hexagon had a folded roof with six gables and a clear story in the center to permit sunlight to enter the corridors and to provide ventilation for the individual heating units.

However, as plans progressed, a third hexagon was added to the rear that housed an all-purpose theater style auditorium for school assembly use.  It featured a large stage, dressing and washing rooms, floor space for school athletic and community activities.  According to Keith, one of our commenters below, the school did not have a cafeteria so many of the neighborhood children went home for lunch.  In addition, he also noted that the playground was covered with smooth pea-sized river rock.

By the end of construction, the outlay for F & S was $175,000.  And, since a new building needs a new principal, Octavio Candelara was hired for the job by District 54’s first superintendent, Robert Flum.  It should also be noted that Anne Fox who was later to have a school in Hanover Park named for her also spent some time teaching at Blackhawk.

In 1958 the community was already making good use of the building’s stage.  The Hoffman Estates Theater Guild held their first production “The Tender Trap” on December 5th and 6th and followed with showings of “Harvey” and “Sabrina Fair” in 1959.  In addition, the Hoffman Estates Baptist Church, a mission of the First Baptist Church of Palatine was holding services in the hallways in 1959.

Much beloved by the community and given awards for its innovative design, the school, nevertheless, closed in 1976 because of a decline in attendance.  In the fall of 1977, the school district vacated the building and the Schaumburg Township offices moved into the building from the Buttery on Roselle Road. The building was razed in November, 1996 after a new Township office was built on the same site.

What are your memories of Blackhawk School/Schaumburg Township offices?  It was certainly a unique building for its time and almost reminds me of a school you would see in Southern California.  Any thoughts?

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

(Photo of Blackhawk School courtesy of the Hoffman Estates History Museum.  Photo of Anne Fox courtesy of Bill Engler.)


  1. Bruno Cattivabrutto Says:

    This building would have been great in California. Here in Illinois, it seemed to flood a lot and I don’t think it was that well insulated.

  2. Katherine Carraher Says:

    I found your site while looking for a photo of my old elementary school. And here I found it, along with a photo of my beloved first grade teacher, Anne Fox! I don’t know how well-insulated the building was, but as a student, I loved it. The inventive architecture with its walls of glass was wonderful, and I have happy memories of playing beneath the enormous oak tree outside my second grade classroom. Ms. Fox truly was an amazing teacher, and I was lucky to be transferred to her class after the school discovered I was starting first grade already a fluent reader. (Back in those days, students were generally taught how to read in the first grade — not in kindergarten, as they are today.) Thanks so much for posting these photos … I can’t wait to show them to my kids, who are in elementary school today!

    • jrozek Says:

      This is exactly the kind of comment I love to hear–a bit more detail about the school and the teacher than I was able to provide! I’m glad you stumbled across our blog. If you’re a Hoffman Estates girl, you’ll like Pat Barch’s next posting on the old water tower in Hoffman Plaza. She’s the Hoffman Estates historian and she did a wonderful job delving into the history of the HE water towers. Look for it on Sunday…

      Jane Rozek
      Local History Librarian

  3. Mark Vassmer Says:

    I remember attending Blackhawk for the 1st & 2nd grade, walking there from Mohawk Lane, now Mohave. My favorite teacher was Miss Fox.

  4. Duane S Says:

    I remember attending a book fair at Blackhawk School. The design was quite modernistic in its day. However, the construction quality left a lot to be desired in terms of keeping out the Chicago area’s extreme weather.

    • jrozek Says:

      I have heard the same thing about the building’s construction. It was not really meant to withstand northern Illinois weather elements!

      Jane Rozek
      Local History Librarian

  5. Don Cahoon Says:

    Hi, I really enjoyed reading this blog about Blackhawk School. It was interesting to learn about the design. I actually attended Sam Hoffman School. Fun times and great teachers.

  6. Laura A Says:

    I attended Blackhawk School from K-3rd grade at which point is was closed. My parents collected signatures door to door to keep thje school open. Lots of memories there. In the south hexagon there was a reading area that included a old claw footed bathtub filed with throw pillows and a few easy chairs. Next to that was an alcove the school has us students paint a mural depicting development and construcion equipment… cont.

  7. Laura A Says:

    There were a log of great teachers there. There was a mimiograph machine in the office and all of the students loved to “go pick up the dittos” so we could smell them and enjoy the warm/moist paper! A welder came in and welded a statue of Chiff Blackhawk out of metal objects students brought in. I recall bumpers and even a hot water heater dropped off in front of the school! The statue was bigger than life sized and stood in by the front door. The gym had a full sized stage and most classes put on plays on that stage. I was in a Spirit of 76 play that was put on by my class.

    • jrozek Says:

      Hi Laura,

      These are some really neat memories of Blackhawk School–particularly the one of the statue. What an interesting idea! You wouldn’t by chance have any photos of your time at Blackhawk School would you? We only have a couple of photos and anything the public could add would be much appreciated.

      If you–or anyone else you know of–has any photos or brochures or report cards or programs from any early District 54 days, I would love the opportunity to scan them for our collection. Please contact me at or 847-923-3331.

      Thank you!

      Jane Rozek
      Local History Librarian

  8. Kim Says:

    I attended Blackhawk from 1969 to 1972 for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades. I had Miss Perco, Mrs. Henry who lived 4 houses north of me, and Mrs. Vickman. TV weatherman Harry Volkman visited our school when I was there too. I remember the art supply closet in the north hexagon, as well as the library. I began reading my beloved Nancy Drew books there, and have all 56 hardbacks, most bought at Woodfield Mall’s Sears. I remember in 1971 our only African American student joined us, as well as a student of Filipino descent. I became friends with both girls, and the experience eventually led to my husband and I being one of the first in our town to adopt transracially. I used to run home after school to watch Gilligan’s Island and Speed Racer, and came home for lunch to eat and watch Bozo’s Circus. I was the first in my class whose parents were divorcing, so we moved to Meadow Trace Apts (now Woodfield Gardens) at the edge of Rolling Meadows and were bussed back to Twinbrook. However, my fondest elementary school memories were always at Blackhawk!

  9. George Debbs Says:

    my memories of the school was playing little league there and when I got my first home run hit, which ended up in the front window of a house behind the ball field, which really shocked everyone, me included.

  10. Jeff Says:

    I went their between 1965-1970. My last 2 years were spent in the Mobil homes they added for room. Mr. Depinto was my 6th grade teacher. I remember in my 4th grade class my friend drove himself thru one of the big windows into the classroom in his bike. He came out ok.

  11. J Ernest Clausen III Says:

    I attended there between 1960-1963 but what I enjoyed thoroughly was learning the Eb Clarinet. Though getting to view current events in the auditorium/Physical Recreation Hall was an experience never to be forgotten. John Glenn first manned space flight, Election votes, Cuban Crisis, JFK shooting, which somehow prepared us for how an education could make a difference in our future if we were aware of it, Still, we should have questions ready before we engaged the in a whole world of differences, rain or shine.

    • jrozek Says:

      Gathering the school together to watch life changing events like those you mentioned was very progressive of the school/school district. These memories obviously had an impact on you. Thank you for the comment Mr. Clausen.

      Jane Rozek
      Local History Librarian
      Schaumburg Township District Library

  12. Robert Atcher Says:

    I am trying to remember my third grade teacher’s name – Jessie Valerio? That would be 59-60. Had Mrs Babbits for 4th – she was a disaster, the worst teacher I ever had. Mr DeGorgio for sixth grade – talk about a contrast – he was such a terrific teacher. We would visit him at home in Arlington Hts after we finished our stint at Blackhawk. He was by far the best teacher I had in primary and jr. high!

  13. Tom Says:

    I remember the school not as a school since I started first grade in the newly built Enders-Salk just over the (hill) town line from where I lived but as the location of Spectrum where I found many jobs as a teenager. Spectrum was, among other things, a job service for the youth. I got jobs through them of lawn care, serving at banquet halls, etc. Nowadays I wish I could find a place like that where I live, one to get some needed work done and two to send my kids to when they need a job.

    • jrozek Says:

      Spectrum, indeed, provided a valuable service to the young people of the township. Whether it was providing a place to hang out, job possibilities or informal counseling for local teens, Spectrum had a devoted staff and volunteers ready to help.

      Jane Rozek
      Local History Librarian
      Schaumburg Township District Library

  14. Keith F. Says:

    Very interesting. I tried Google Images Blackhawk Elementary circa 1965 to find this amazing piece of local history. I was at Blackhawk from fall 1960 until winter 1965 when my family moved south for warmer climate and family business opportunity. Ms. Fox was my first grade teacher. She was patient and kind. She saw me squinting in the middle of the classroom. She moved me to a front row seat and sent a note home to my parents that I may need my vision checked. She was right. Got my first pair of glasses and squinted no more! Had Ms. Schoeler [sp] for 3rd grade and Ms. Spencer later. Remember Ms. Greenbaum later Mrs. Goldsmith in 5th grade.

    I remember playing kick ball and dodge ball in the gym often during our recess in the winter. There was no cafeteria, so those of us who lived close walked home for lunch or brought a brown bag lunch. I lived near Payson St. and Peoria Drive. I could see the school from the curb in front of our house. Our back yard was Schaumberg Road. The school playground area was covered with smooth pea-sized river rock. I will look through my old pics that my mother left to me. There was one or 2 old classroom photos in there.

    • jrozek Says:


      This is very good detail to add to the collective knowledge of Blackhawk School. In fact, I’m going to include some of it in the posting itself.

      I will also be starting a series this month on the schools of Schaumburg Township and will be rerunning this posting at some time this year. It would be wonderful to be able to include any classroom photos you might be able to pass on. You can contact me at about the possibility.

      Thank you for being so generous!

      Jane Rozek
      Local History Librarian

  15. Viki Hutchinson Cromer Says:

    I moved with my mother and two brothers to Schaumburg in the summer or 1969 to a brand new home 🏡 in Timbercrest. We moved from Ft. Lauderdale,Fl because my Mom had gotten re-married. I had never seen snow so Schaumburg was a total culture shock‼️But Blackhawk Elementary was similar in design to Florida schools so I felt at home. I attended fourth grade in 1968-69 through sixth grade in 1970-71.I do remember the classrooms being very cold (especially coming from Florida 🌴!)so I would wear my coat inside all day! My first year my classroom was inside the main building, but fifth and sixth grades were in the awful trailers ( no air conditioning!). I can only remember my fifth grade teacher, Miss Argerian. She was very young and I believe we were her very first classroom. I LOVED her. She was so sweet and beautiful.She had short very dark hair and always dressed in really hip clothes. I wanted to be just like her! I wish I could remember more‼️

  16. Kimberly A Gavurnik Says:

    Wow! I was feeling homesick and started looking up places in Schaumburg/Hoffman and came across this. I went to school at Blackhawk from 2nd-5th grades. I was in the first graduating class at Enders-Salk when they built it to replace Blackhawk. The thing I probably remember most about Blackhawk is buckets everywhere everytime it rained due to all the leaks in the roof. In 4th and 5th grades our classes were in trailers outside.

  17. Jody Naylor Says:

    I attended Blackhawk in 3rd Grade about 1967. I don’t remember a lot about the school other than getting in trouble for not pronouncing words correct. But I do remember a lot about the surrounding area, like the small patch of trees behind the school.I used to pick wild grapes up in the trees. Rather small and tart, but a good find. And the pond a little further away with the muskrat den in the center of it. i did my first ice skating there, fell down a lot. and the field behind that, caught a lot of Garter snakes there. What a wonderful place to live for a year or so. We lived over on Newark and I took a shortcut across the field everyday to get to school.

  18. Dennis Reynolds Says:

    I attended Blackhawk School 4th, 5th, & 6th grades (Mr. Carao, Mrs. Macintyre, and Mr. Pervis) the school had just opened and had very little play ground equipment. I remember the whole student body in the gym trying to watch a small tv showing Asrtonaut Alan Shepherd’s partial orbit of the earth.

    • jrozek Says:

      Isn’t it amazing how those monumental space odysseys drew all of us to our TVs? And the fact that they often help us trace the track of our own lives? It was such an incredible time. Thank you for sharing Dennis.

      Jane Rozek
      Local History Librarian
      Schaumburg Township District Librarian

  19. Kimberly Gavurnik Says:

    I went to Blackhawk from 2nd-5th grade. I was in the first graduating class at Enders-Salk. I remember buckets everywhere any time it rained. Also the old radiators that my youngest brother cut his fingers on when my mother was our brownie leader one year. I moved to Texas 11 years ago and I swear I get more homesick for Schaumburg every year.

  20. Barbara McMahon Says:

    Oh, so interesting, I was wondering what happened to the school. All 4 of my children attended Blackhawk, starting in 59, and on to Junior High. My youngest was in 3 grade when we moved in the early 70s. Ms. Fox was lst grade, a gem, had taught in district many years,including 1 room schoolhse on corner of Schaumberg & Roselle Rd way back. Ms. Fisher and Mrs. Valerio were 2nd & 3rd grade. I actually was PTA president for a couple of years, we lived on Pleasant St., across from Mrs. Henry. Bookfairs, field trips…most of the children have good memories of their days there.
    One day in winter, the temp dropped so fast during the day, and I got some other parents and we drove so many kids home. Blackhawk had such a large population that 6th graders were bussed over to Fairview, and I remember a portable classroom outside. I also worked for the school district for a few years, testing vision and hearing in all the schools. I see that either school names have changed in some cases, or the schools are gone, like Blackhawk.

    • jrozek Says:

      Hello Barbara,

      Your wonderful, detailed comments are oh, so interesting too! Thank you for your comment on Miss Fox. From everything I’ve read and heard she was definitely a one-of-a-kind. I do believe she deserves a blog posting all her own. And, you certainly have it correct that she also taught at the one-room, Schaumburg Center School too.

      I have also done a blog posting on Pleasant Acres if you haven’t seen that.
      Maybe you have some memories to contribute to that too?

      Jane Rozek
      Local History Librarian
      Schaumburg Township District Library

  21. Patrick Hysell Says:

    I attended Blackhawk for 6th grade in ‘58-‘59. It was quite an experience. Mr. Candeleria was a stern disciplinarian and didn’t allow much goofing around. When the gym opened for us we finally had a place for indoor recreation that was supervised by Mr. Candeleria. We had a rope climb, played dodgeball, tumbling, tag, etc and truly had a great time. Many of the boys played marbles which was often difficult on the pea gravel outside. There wasn’t any development in the field next to the school but as soon as they built the baseball backstop it was batter up for many of us. Kids came from a very wide area of HE to play football with us at that field on a regular basis. It didn’t matter what the weather was, rain, sleet, snow…the dirtier we got the more fun we had. By the way, because there were no fences, if you hit the ball as far as Illinois Blvd, it was an automatic homerun.

    • jrozek Says:


      These are wonderful details to add to the Blackhawk School story–and would be known only by those who were there. Thank you for contributing.

      Love the automatic home run tidbit!

      Jane Rozek
      Local History Librarian
      Schaumburg Township District Library

  22. Pam LoBosco Says:

    WAY back in 1988, I moved from HE to Arizona. Got to chatting with a gal I worked with. In short, it was her brother that was F&S Builders. She said she remembers him being SO excited to develop this new place called Hoffman Estates. Being from Arizona, design of the school and many of the first homes were designs that, he would soon find out, worked better in Arizona’s dry climate than the midwest. The deep “V”s of Blackhawk’s roof often held snow, causing roof leaks. Those large windows had NO insulation and we froze in those rooms in the winter. There was no A/C in the school when I went there. Eventually, some type of vinyl curtains helped keep the rooms more shaded when temps got warmer. The homes that had flat-roofed carports were a prime example that did not work well with more frequent rains and snow that would sit/pile up. Other construction materials used were also not climate worthy for IL. How ’bout those steel framed windows that froze with ice from the condensation of the heat inside the house and the cold temps outside? Also, the type of sewer pipes used soon gave way to tree roots splitting the clay composition causing virtually everyone in my neighborhood (Parcel C) to end up with that oh-so-famiiar trench leading from the street to the house to replace the pipe. It was an interesting conversation to share our memories of HE being developed.

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