About two months ago, this photo was passed on to me by one of my fellow librarians. The picture was found at the Forgotten Chicago website and is a location in Schaumburg Township. Do you recognize it? The stone “chimney” is the most distinctive part of the building and remains in place today. The rest of the building has been modified over the years.
In case you’re still wondering, this was the first multi-room school in Schaumburg Township and is now part of District 54’s Rauch Center for Instruction and Technology. When it was built it was simply called Schaumburg School. You can now find it at 520 E. Schaumburg Road in front of the district’s administrative offices.
In 1952, however, the children of Schaumburg Township did not have such a big building. They were attending a one-room schoolhouse in the township or were being bused to schools in Elk Grove or Palatine Townships. The one-room schools being used were the Schaumburg Center School on Schaumburg Road and the Sunderlage School on Higgins Road. Given the fact that the population of the township was just starting to build, it was clearly obvious the district needed a new school.
The school board got busy and used their local connections to hire the firm of Schweikher & Elting of Chicago to design a new school. It just so happened that Paul Schweikher lived in Schaumburg in a house he built on property off of Meacham Road. No small shakes as an architect, the house he designed is now known as the Schweikher House and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
By December of 1952, his architectural firm had already completed preliminary plans for the new school after working with the board members to create a usable, workable, modern floor plan. According to a December 12, 1952 issue of the Daily Herald, the plan “is for a four classroom building with an additional multi-purpose room for school and community use.”
The problem was that the building had yet to be approved by the voters. A referendum was held on December 20, 1952 that would authorize the board of education to purchase a site for the new building, authorize the money for the purchase ($7000), authorize the board to build the school and authorize a bond issue of $143,000. The referendum passed and construction began with E.W. Sproul Construction Co. as the general contractors.
The groundbreaking was held June 26, 1953 at the chosen site of Schaumburg Road, ¼ mile east of the intersection with Plum Grove Road. Building began shortly afterwards. Unfortunately, the school was not ready in time for the start of the school year so the children still attended the two one-room schoolhouses and were bused to Elk Grove Township.
That lasted until January 10, 1954 when the new Schaumburg School finally opened. The school covered all eight grades with each of the four rooms sharing two grades. Three teachers taught all 87 students enrolled. [School District 54 timeline]
An article from the October, 1954 issue of Architectural Forum that was passed on to me from Patrick Steffes at Forgotten Chicago, describes the building as “juxtaposed Mies-like steel framing with Viking-like tower and walls… its appeal is coolly intellectual, not sensuous… witty, not playful.” And, according to the magazine, came in $20,000 under budget.
One year later in 1955 the student enrollment was up to 327. It didn’t take long for the school district to decide that another school was necessary so in 1956 Twinbrook School opened. By the 1957-58 school year, Schaumburg School had become the district’s Junior High School.
In the intervening years the building has played many roles. It’s been remodeled, its purpose revamped and additional spaces have been created within the building. In fact, it is currently under construction again to add more classroom space. By September 2014 the building will reopen once again as a school and will house the District 54 Early Learning Center. As District 54’s website states, “[we] will bring all of our early childhood students and educators together under one roof beginning with the 2014-15 school year.”
Despite the many changes, it is that Viking-like chimney that continues to dominate the building–just as Mr. Schweikher intended. Take another look when you’re driving down Schaumburg Road and appreciate the legacy he left.
My thanks to Patrick Steffes of Forgotten Chicago for not only posting the initial photos and details but for allowing me to use the photos as well. He also passed on the article from Architectural Forum that gave me additional details. Presents like these very much enhance the history of our township.
The black and white photos as well as the diagram of the building are from Architectural Forum, October, 1954.
Local History Librarian