PAUL SCHWEIKHER AND THE ROSELLE SCHOOL HE DESIGNED

Before he left Schaumburg Township in 1953, architect Paul Schweikher did a couple of lasting favors for two local school districts.  Roselle School District 12 and Schaumburg Township School District 54 were both in dire need of new schools for their districts.  Roselle’s population had increased after World War II and Roselle Public School at Park and Pine was way over capacity with 176 students. Schaumburg Township had recently consolidated their districts into one district for the entire township. With only a couple of one-room schools in Schaumburg Township to accomodate the students who were part of the public school system, a new, modern school was desperately needed.  Enter Paul Schweikher.

On December 1, 1951, the citizens of Roselle passed a referendum approving the construction of a new school. The school board must have expected a “yes” vote because, according to a November 30, 1951 article from the DuPage County Register, the architectural firm of Schweikher & Elting had already been commissioned and provided plans for the new building. The school would “consist of four classrooms and a play assembly room” and the building would be of “fireproof, brick construction with plenty of light, and designed to harmonize pleasingly with the residential character of the community. According to the school board, this building will also provide a needed place for civic and community affairs, a civic center, for all the people of the community.” (A health and staff room were also part of the plans.)

The already composed plans were also mentioned in a letter to the editor in the December 14, 1951 paper. Mrs. Douglas Fowler who was president of the PTA states, “Our organization would like to thank you for your cooperation in our recent campaign for a new school.  As your paper will probably announce on another page, the issues were settled by a landslide.”  She also states, “Schweikher and Elting designed a beautiful school, and received their share of our thanks.”

Later, in a public notice in the April 11, 1952 paper, the Roselle school district put out a bid for proposals for construction of the school.  Instructions for the proposals could be examined at the office of “the Architects, Schweikher and Elting, Meacham Road, Roselle, Illinois…” They would make copies available for a fee and checks would be paid to the order of the architectural firm. Eventually, in a June 20, 1952 article, it was announced that the E.W. Sproul Co. of Chicago had been “selected as the general contractor at a maximum price of $155,820.” Excavation work had, in fact, already begun and the building was expected to take six months though it did not open until February or March of 1953.

Built into the side of a gentle slope at the corner of Maple, Howard and Pine, the school’s site had been previously purchased from the village of Roselle. The building was described in the June 20th article as “the design is of modern architecture and the structure will be brick with large window areas on the north and south sides. These, with other innovations, will provide the maximum in natural lighting benefits.  A wide circular drive connected to Maple Avenue will provide access to the canopied entrance of the building.”

Unfortunately, we do not have a professional photo of the finished product. The building was L-shaped with the classrooms and offices running parallel to Maple Street and the large play/assembly room running perpendicular. You can see this design best in the Roselle Register photo which shows the back of the school. The play/assembly room is bricked and to the right in the photo.

Windows covered the entire south wall to the left, with each classroom having its own exterior door. You can also see these features in the following photo from the Roselle History Museum. Notice the skylight in the ceiling. Tom Troyke, Facilities Manager for Trinity Lutheran Church, the current owner of the building, said that the skylights had a louvre over them that probably allowed the teachers to direct sunlight into the room as they saw fit. 

The best photo of the front of the building is seen below and comes from Mr. Troyke. The cars in the foreground are on Maple Avenue and the front of the school and the circular drive is to the right. Notice the massive, rectangular chimney and the offset windows on the front. Chimneys are an important component of many of Schweikher’s designs–including his own house.

And, we can’t see it, but the east wall of the gym was made entirely of glass!

Five years later, in 1958, the school was added onto once again because the student population was continuing to expand in greater numbers. By this time it had been renamed Parkside School as seen in the photo at the top from Joan Beauprez, the historian of the Roselle History Museum. The addition was built adjacent to the play/assembly room which was probably bricked up at the time when the stage was most likely added. Eventually, over the years, the chimney was taken down, the skylights and original large boilers were taken out and the interior was redesigned. But, if you take a look at the Google aerial of the building–which is now the Trinity Child Care Center–you can see that the original L lines of the building are still intact. You can also see it here in the back of the building.

Schweikher was likely involved in the entire building process for the original design given that his office was so close and that potential contractors went there to get specifications for the proposal. His cutting edge design was certainly unique for this small town, even though this was the advent of the era of single level schools. Still, a school building that was largely windows on three sides? That is not something you see every day.

Interestingly though, the designs came in handy just a couple of years later when Schaumburg Township District 54 approached him about their new school. Read about that project and Schweikher’s last contribution to the Schaumburg area in next week’s blog. It’s an interesting comparison!

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library
jrozek@stdl.org

My thanks to Tom Troyke and Joan Beauprez for their sustained interest and support in researching this school.  Without them I would not have had a tour of the building or photos that helped solve some of the mysteries.  Their passion for their hometown was remarkable.

 

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