Archive for the ‘Schools’ Category

SCHAUMBURG TOWNSHIP PUBLIC SCHOOLS: DISTRICT 51

February 19, 2017

The District 51 school was located on the south side of Higgins Road between Roselle and Barrington Roads.  In 2017 the location is slightly west and south of the intersection of Huntington Boulevard and Higgins Road in Hoffman Estates.  This school was alternately called the Sunderlage School and the Meyer School.  The latter name referred to its location on the Meyer farm.

[The USGS topographical map from 1935 below shows the school listed as Meyers School.]

meyer-school

[The USGS topographical map from 1953 shows it listed as the Sunderlage School.]

sunderlage-school 

Both Ester (Steinmeyer) Bierman and Erna (Lichthart) Hungerberg remembered walking to the Meyer School as students.  Erna arrived at school with potentially frost bitten hands one bitterly cold winter day.  The teacher had Erna put her hands in a wash basin full of snow, and the hands suffered no ill effects.  Miss Laura Williamson was one of the teachers that the ladies recalled.  Miss Williamson did not board with a farm family, but she drove a car (coupe) to school each day, because she lived in Norwood Park with her family.

[The school closed for the first time in 1943.  In a September 5, 1952 article from The Herald, it was mentioned that the school was reopened and used as a location for the 3rd, 4th and 5th graders of Schaumburg Township after being closed for the previous nine years.]

The District 51 School was closed in 1954 after the consolidation of the five township school districts and the opening of the new 4-room Schaumburg School.  Richard Gerschefske purchased the school building for his personal use.  The roof was carefully removed to aid in moving the school down Higgins and Roselle Roads to Schaumburg Center.  Richard placed the school on a portion of his farm southeast of the intersection of Schaumburg and Roselle Roads.  The school is shown below during the moving process.

district-51-school

He also purchased the Hartmann School (District 55), which was located at the northeast corner of Wise and Rodenburg Roads.  Because this school was closed for many years, the building was in poor condition.  Richard dismantled it for the lumber that he used to add on a kitchen and dining room to the District 51 School.

[An article in the December 23, 1954 issue of The Herald confirms this:  “Meyer School on Higgins Road was purchased by Richard Gerschefske and will be made into a residence.  Mr. Gerschefske also won the bid on the Hartmann School of Wise Road… All associated buildings on the school property was sold along with the school houses, in all four cases.  The buildings were sold due to the fact that they were no longer being used since the erection of the new consolidated school on Schaumburg Road.”]

The District 51 School on Higgins Road and the District 54 School in Schaumburg Center were the last two one-room schoolhouses used in Schaumburg Township.  Robert Flum was teaching the intermediate students at the Meyer School when it closed in 1954.  He went on to be a teacher/principal of the new 4-room Schaumburg School and, later, Community Consolidated School District 54’s first superintendent of schools.

The text for this blog posting is an excerpt from Schaumburg of My Ancestors by LaVonne Thies Presley, published in 2012.  The book is an in-depth look at Schaumburg Township around the turn of the nineteenth century.  

Her particular focus was the farm off of Meacham Road where her father grew up.  However, LaVonne also took the opportunity in the text to create a detailed examination of the formation of the public one-room schools of Schaumburg Township.  In the upcoming months a posting will be shared on each of those five schools.  But, first, an introduction to the formation of Schaumburg Township public schools

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

 

SCHAUMBURG TOWNSHIP PUBLIC SCHOOLS: AN INTRODUCTION

January 22, 2017

LaVonne's bookThe text for this blog posting is an excerpt from Schaumburg of My Ancestors by LaVonne Thies Presley, published in 2012.  The book is an in-depth look at Schaumburg Township around the turn of the nineteenth century.  

Her particular focus was the farm off of Meacham Road where her father grew up.  However, LaVonne also took the opportunity in the text to create a detailed examination of the formation of the public one-room schools of Schaumburg Township.  In the upcoming months a posting will be shared on each of those five schools.  But, first, an introduction to the formation of Schaumburg Township public schools

“At some point after the establishment of Schaumburg Township in 1850, the township was divided into five local elementary or public school districts.  Each attendance area was assigned a district number.  The exact date of the construction of each one-room school is not known.  There is little reliable written documentation about early public education in Schaumburg Township.  It appears that minutes from the districts have been misplaced, lost or destroyed.  The numbering for these five districts was changed sometime after 1900 by the Office of the Cook County Superintendent of Schools.

In 1829 Illinois established the Office of School Commissioner which was responsible for the sale of public school land.  The money from the sale of section 16 in each township was designated for the public (common) schools.  By 1882 most land assets for school used had been sold.  Though no written documentation has been found, it is assumed that there was enough money to cover some or all of the construction costs of Schaumburg Township’s five schools.  The Schaumburg Township public schools were typically built on an acre of land.

The minutes from School District 53 public school note that it was an active school in 1860, which was ten years after the township system was put in place in Illinois.  No records for the other four districts in Schaumburg Township have been found.

As seen in the Cook County Biennial Report of the County Superintendent of Schools from July 1, 1894 to June 30, 1896, …the one-room schools were listed as “country schools.”  The assumption is made that the country school designations came about because the schools were not located in an incorporated village and were small districts that did not have consolidation with a central school board.

This map from the Biennial Report makes note of the locations of the schools with the abbreviation S.H. that, presumably, refers to “School House.”
schools-of-schaumburg-township

The number of yearly attendance days varied in these districts as children were needed on the farm during the planting and harvesting seasons.  In the report from 1894-1896, the average number of months taught was six.  Each of the one-room schools had its own school directors.  In 1898 the Cook County Superintendent reported that the number of pupils enrolled in Schaumburg Township Public Schools was 86; however, the private school’s enrollment was 150 pupils.  The Illinois School Board of Education reported in their timeline for 1890 that female teachers in Illinois earned an average of $44 per month while the male teachers made about $10 more.  (At the time of the report, the schools in Schaumburg Township were numbered 1-5.  These were later changed to numbers 51-55.)

school-teachers

…At the conclusion of the 1895-96 school year, the five Schaumburg Township public schools had an enrollment of 76 students while the three Lutheran schools in the township had an enrollment of 146 students.  Also, the superintendent’s report noted that the libraries of the five public schools had a combined total of 374 books.  A list of suggested book titles for the school libraries was included with the cost of each book ranging from 18 to 45 cents.  It is not known if the superintendent visited the graded and country school in each township yearly or if they submitted a written accounting to him.

Between the 1890s and 1940s the population of each Schaumburg public school district fluctuated as children stared and completed their schooling.  Moreover, non-German families moved in and out of the township for various reasons.  A few German families sent their children to the English school for their primary education, but the children attended a Lutheran school for middle and upper grades.   At times, when a school’s enrollment was too low to keep it open, the local farmers would send their 4 and 5 year old children to the public school.  This raised the enrollment numbers sufficiently to keep the school open.   Another farmer simply bought the school to insure it was kept open.

In the 1940s and 1950s only two schools were in good repair and remained open–District 51 and District 54.  (District 51 is in Section 9 of the map and District 54 is in Section 22.)  As people from the city moved to Schaumburg Township and built homes, the school enrollment numbers increased.  If the number of children was too high for the two schools, Schaumburg Township had agreements with surrounding school districts to bus children to their schools on a tuition basis.  Some of the districts included:  Elk Grove, Bartlett, Palatine, and Barrington.  This arrangement ended with the consolidation of the schools in Schaumburg Township in 1952 and the erection of a new four-room Schaumburg School on east Schaumburg Road in 1954.”

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

SCHAUMBURG CENTRE SCHOOL OPEN HOUSE

October 31, 2016

The Schaumburg Township Historical Society will sponsor an open house of the Schaumburg Centre School on Sunday, November 13, 2016.  The open house will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  The schoolhouse is located on the St. Peter Lutheran Church property.

Constructed in 1872–and first called Sarah’s Grove School, it is believed to have been the first of five public schools in Schaumburg Township. It was later renamed Schween’s Grove School and called Schaumburg Centre Public School until 1954. For 82 years, the building served as a one-room schoolhouse, and was the last active one room schoolhouse in District 54.

With the widening of Schaumburg Road, the building was saved from demolition and temporarily placed on the grounds of the Town Square Shopping Center in 1979. It was permanently relocated to the St. Peter Lutheran Church property in September, 1981. It has been fully restored as a museum and is under the auspices of the Schaumburg Township Historical Society.

You can check out the Historical Society’s website here.

SCHAUMBURG CENTER SCHOOL OPEN HOUSE

June 4, 2016

The Schaumburg Township Historical Society will sponsor an open house of the Schaumburg Center School on Sunday, July 10, 2016.  The open house will be held from 9 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  The schoolhouse is located on the St. Peter Lutheran Church property.

Constructed in 1872–and first called Sarah’s Grove School, it is believed to have been the first of five public schools in Schaumburg Township. It was later renamed Schween’s Grove School and called Schaumburg Centre Public School until 1954. For 82 years, the building served as a one-room schoolhouse, and was the last active one room schoolhouse in District 54.

With the widening of Schaumburg Road, the building was saved from demolition and temporarily placed on the grounds of the Town Square Shopping Center in 1979. It was permanently relocated to the St. Peter Lutheran Church property in September, 1981. It has been fully restored as a museum and is under the auspices of the Schaumburg Township Historical Society.

A TRIBUTE TO ADOLPH LINK AND THE SCHOOL THAT BEARS HIS NAME

March 27, 2016

In December 2015 I wrote two blog postings about the beginning of School District 54 and the variety of names given to the schools within the district.  One of the schools is named for Adolph Link, who was active in the formation of the school district.  Papers on the naming of the school were recently passed on to me by Sandy Meo who is a long time volunteer with Spring Valley and the Volkening Heritage Farm.  They were given to her by Mary Lou Reynolds, the daughter of Adolph Link.3310

Mr. Link and his wife, Estelle, moved to Schaumburg Township in 1932 with their two children.  They lived on the southeast corner of Schaumburg and Plum Grove Roads, near the Redeker farm–all of which is now part of Spring Valley.  Both his children and grandchildren all attended schools in the township.

 

 

 

 

 

Following his retirement as a commercial artist, Mr. Link continued his artwork.  Not only did he like to paint but he was also did “chalk talks” in District 54 schools and became known for creating drawings of local churches that were comprised of the names of the parishoners.  Note St. Peter Lutheran Church as such an example.  Quite clever, isn’t it?1510

 

 

 

 

Mr. Link passed away in 1971 at the age of 86.  At the time of his death, his family had lived in Schaumburg Township for almost 40 years.

Two years later School District 54 honored him by giving his name to a new school on Biesterfield Road.

Link School

 

At the dedication, Maynard Thomas, the first principal of the school, served as master of ceremonies.  Posting of the colors was performed by Cub Scout Pack 395, Den 3 of Elk Grove Village.  The invocation was also conducted by an Elk Grove Village resident– Reverend James E. Shea of St. Julian Eymard Catholic Church.  The 5th and 6th grade chorus performed a medley from “Fiddler on the Roof” and the First Grade classes sang “Skip To My Lou.”

S. Guy Fishman, the architect then presented the building to  Donnie Rudd, President of the District 54 Board of Education and Wayne E. Schaible, Superintendent of Schools.

Robert Link, son of Adolph Link, was then honored to give the dedication response.  As part of his comments he read the following poem written by his father at the age of 83 in 1968.

It is titled “After Being Shut In All Winter

It really is a big treat
To sit in my wheelchair seat,
Out in our spacious lawn
To watch the goings on
Seeing the trees swing to and fro
As the gentle breezes blow,
And hearing the planes flying high,
Going here and there through the sky,
And watching the autos passing by
With an occasional rider shouting “Hi.”

The landscape is a beautiful green
As pretty as any I have seen.
All nature seems exuberant now
As I feel she should take a bow.
A cardinal alights on a limb
He looks at me and I look at him.
He was born a bird, his mission to fill
To flutter about and give me a thrill.

Glancing down Chicago way
Some twenty five miles away,
Seeing the Hancock building standing high
Into distant horizon’s clear blue sky
I wonder why they build so high
With so much vacant land nearby.

A transistor radio by my side,
Brings me the latest news from far and wide.
And the speeches by office seekers,
Who are eloquent public speakers,
Telling what they will do if they get in,
And admonishing us to help them to win.
While I am a crippled old resident,
I can still vote for a president.

And while I find it hard to walk
Thank God I can still think and talk.
Though I’m old and semi-retired,
Never more have I admired
The  way all nature takes a hand
Seemingly, to make living  grand
And my many, many loving friends
Upon who much of my joy depends.

Mr. Link wrote this from his home where he could see the Hancock building on a clear day, listen to a transistor radio and wave to people as they drove by.  It was the spring primary season of 1968 and even though he was wheelchair bound and semi-retired(!) at age 81, it was clear he appreciated his health and beautiful surroundings.  In a District 54 Board-O-Gram from February 9, 1972 it was fittingly stated “His spirit was an inspiration to all who knew him.”

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

My thanks to Sandy Meo for passing on the dedication program as well as a copy of the poem, typed by the Link and Reynolds families.  It is wonderful to share Mr. Link’s legacy.
The photo of Mr. Link is used courtesy of the Link and Reynolds families.
The photo of Link School is used courtesy of wikimapia.org.

THE DIVERSE NAMES OF DISTRICT 54 SCHOOLS

December 27, 2015

When the District 54 school district was created in 1952, the board immediately began the process of consolidating the existing one-room schoolhouses into one brand new school.  As a result, Schaumburg School was built two years later, in 1954, on East Schaumburg Road.  At the time it was assumed this school would suffice for township students for years to come.  That presumption lasted for about a year until F & S Construction came to the area and development began to explode in the future village of Hoffman Estates.

The fast-paced development would continue through 1980, and during that time thirty more schools were built in Schaumburg Township.  This amazing number created the largest elementary district in the state of Illinois.   One of the small, but hardly insignificant details involved in the  building process, was putting a name to each school.  If you take the time to notice, the unique and creative names the schools were given by the school boards, administrations and builders during that time period were truly something special.

Many school districts name a school for a location or by sticking with the tried and true like Lincoln, Jefferson or Washington.  Not District 54.  Most of their names are derived from famous people–either local or national–and the sheer variety is quite interesting to explore.

The name origins for the schools can be divided into 10 broad categories.  Listed below are the categories, the schools and a description of who the school is named for.

  1. LOCATION
    A.  Hanover Highlands School.  Named for the Hanover Highlands subdivision of Hanover Park.
    B.  Hillcrest School.  Has been renamed Lincoln Prairie School but was originally named for Hillcrest Boulevard that the school is on.  Lincoln Prairie is named both for President Abraham Lincoln and the prairie ecosystem that was prevalent in this area before any settlement began.
    C.  Twinbrook School.  Named for the area’s first local telephone exchange that was later considered as a name for the future village of Hoffman Estates.  So named because Hoffman Estates was located between Poplar Creek and Salt Creek.Anne Fox005
  2. LOCAL HISTORY
    A.  Anne Fox School.  Named for an early, much beloved teacher of District 54.  (Her photo is to the right.)
    B.  Adolph Link School.  Named for the gentleman who was a local artist, education advocate and a long-time owner of property close to the school.
    C.  Frederick Nerge.  Named for the German farmer/gentleman who is responsible for giving Schaumburg Township its name in 1850.
    D.  Hoffman School.  Named for Sam Hoffman, president of F & S Construction, the developer of Hoffman Estates.
    E.   Francis Campanelli School.  Named for the father of Alfred Campanelli, developer of the Weathersfield subdivision in Schaumburg.
  3. ILLINOIS HISTORY
    A.  Black Hawk School.  Named for the famous Illinois Sauk Indian chief.
    B.  Jane Addams School.  Named for the American settlement activist/reformer who founded Hull House in Chicago.
    C.  Everett Dirksen School.  Named for the Illinois politician who served in both the US House of Representatives and in the US Senate.
    D.  Adlai E. Stevenson II School.  Named for the Illinois politician who served as both governor and ambassador to the UN.
  4. SCIENTISTS
    A.  Albert Einstein School.  Named for the physicist who developed the general theory of relativity.
    B.  Elizabeth Blackwell School.  Named for the first woman to receive a medical degree in the United States and to appear on the UK Medical Register.enders and salk
    C.  Enders-Salk School.  Named for John Franklin Enders who won the Nobel prize for developing in vitro culture of the poliovirus and for Jonas Salk who applied the technique to develop large quantities of the virus and, subsequently, the vaccine to fight the virus.  (Enders is on the left and Salk is on the right in the photo.)
  5. POLITICIANS
    A.  Winston Churchill School.  Named for the Prime Minister of England during World War II.
    B.  Dwight D. Eisenhower School.  Named for the World War II general and president of the United States.
    C.  Herbert Hoover School.  Named for the President of the United States.  (Originally named for J. Edgar Hoover, the long-time director of the FBI, the school’s name was changed in 1994.)
  6. MILITARY
    A.  Douglas MacArthur School.  Named for the World War II general.
    B.  Nathan Hale School.  Named for the Revolutionary War patriot who served as a spy and was later executed by the British.
  7. ASTRONAUTS
    A.  Neil Armstrong School.  Named for the first man to walk on the moon as part of the Apollo 11 mission.astronauts
    B.  Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin School.  Named for the second man to walk on the moon as part of the Apollo 11 mission.
    C.  Michael Collins School.  Named for the Command Module pilot of the Apollo 11 mission.
  8. ACTIVISTS
    A.  Thomas Dooley School.  Named for the Navy physician whose humanitarian efforts were prominent in South East Asia.  (In the photo below.)thomas dooley
    B.  Helen Keller School.  Named for the woman rendered deaf and blind as a result of a childhood illness who rose above these disabilities to graduate from college and campaign for women’s suffrage and labor’s rights.
    C.  John Muir School.  Named for the naturalist and early environmentalist whose work to preserve wilderness areas led to the creation of  Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks and organization of the Sierra Club.
    D.  Margaret Mead School.  Named for the American cultural anthropologist who wrote Coming of Age in Samoa.
  9. POETS
    A.  Robert Frost School.  Named for the poet who was a four-time Pulitzer Prize winner and was known for reading his poem, “The Gift Outright” at the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy.
  10. OTHER
    A.  Fairview School and Lakeview Schools.  Named by F & S Construction Company, the builder and developer of Hoffman Estates.

What an incredible amount of diversity.  I’m quite sure, after a bit of research, that there is no other school district in the United States that has schools named for the first three astronauts to reach the moon.  Who would have thought that two years after the moon landing, Schaumburg Township’s rampant development would create such a neat opportunity?

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

 

KEEPING UP WITH THE FAST-PACED DEVELOPMENT OF DISTRICT 54 SCHOOLS

December 20, 2015

As fast as they were building houses in Schaumburg Townshp during the 1950s, 60s and 70s, they were building schools too.  It was an amazing time of development for this once rural township and the schools were always full to bursting.  By the time one school opened its doors, another one was needed.  The following list depicts the years the schools were built in the district.

 

Schaumburg School

[Schaumburg School]

1950s

  • 1954:  Schaumburg
  • 1956:  Twinbrook
  • 1957:  Hoffman and Fairview
  • 1958:  Blackhawk
  • 1959:  Lakeview

1960s

  • 1961:  Campanelli and Hillcrest
  • 1964:  Frost Jr. High and Hanover Highlands
  • 1965:  Churchill
  • 1966:  Dooley and MacArthur
  • 1967:  Fox and Keller Jr. High
  • 1969:  Addams Jr. High and Hale

1970s

  • 1971:  Aldrin, Armstrong, Collins and Dirksen
  • 1972:  Muir
  • 1973:  Eisenhower Jr High and Link
  • 1974:  Einstein and Hoover
  • 1975:  Stevenson
  • 1976:  Nerge and Enders-Salk
  • 1978:  Blackwell

1980s

  • 1980:  Mead Jr. High

Hoffman School

[Hoffman School]

Just looking at the schools and knowing their locations, it is possible to track where the development was occurring in the township.  It started in the 1950s with the building of Schaumburg School.  For years there had been a one-room schoolhouse public school system in the township.  With the movement towards consolidation, Schaumburg School was built as THE school for the students in the  township.  But then Hoffman Estates happened and with that boom came the schools that were built throughout the rest of the 1950s by F&S Construction near Higgins and Golf Roads.

In the decade of the 1960s, growth continued in Hoffman Estates but it also began to spread out a bit into the Weathersfield development in Schaumburg and in the Hanover Highlands subdivision in the southern part of the township.  Many of the Weathersfield schools were built by Alfred Campanelli, the developer of this large subdivision.  This was also the decade when it became clear to the administration and the school district board that it was necessary to build junior high schools to funnel the students through. As a result, not one, not two, but three junior highs were built that decade!  They were spread out to accomodate the students in all areas and to minimize the need for busing as much as possible.

The 1970s saw thirteen schools open, with four opening in 1971 alone.  It was obviously the high point of development.  Houses were now being built in the Elk Grove portion of the township and in the more western parts of Schaumburg and Hoffman Estates.   Clearly the need for elementary schools was back in full swing.  Another junior high was also built to encompass the northwestern part of the township.

Residential growth began to subside at the end of the seventies with one last school being built in 1980. Not surprisingly, it was a junior high that was the final school built in the district. The school was located in the far eastern portion of the township to accommodate the later development of Elk Grove Village and portions of Roselle.

0458

[Blackhawk School]

By the time the last school opened, the district was made up of 25 elementary schools (Blackhawk had already closed) and five junior high schools. Enrollment peaked in the 1977-78 school year with 17,427 students.

It was an incredible time of growth and development which culminated in the gradual creation of the largest elementary school district in the state of Illinois–a title they still retain to this day.  Some schools have closed over the years and others have had their spaces redesigned.  The district currently has 21 elementary schools, five junior high schools, one early childhood center and one kindergarten through eighth grade school with an average enrollment of around 14,000 students for the entire district.

For those of you who grew up during the madcap years of development, you must have found yourself moving from school to school as the district worked to keep up with the influx of students. What was it like to attend different schools as you progressed through the elementary grades?  Did you sustain your friendships as you moved or were the friendships largely based on the kids in your neighborhood who were in the same situation?  As always, your details help to create the larger picture.  Please share if you’d like!

Next week a look at the naming of the schools…

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

SCHAUMBURG CENTER SCHOOL OPEN HOUSE

August 2, 2015

The Schaumburg Township Historical Society will sponsor an open house of the Schaumburg Center School on Sunday, August 09, 2015.  The open house will be held from 12:00 to 4:00 p.m.  The schoolhouse is located on the St. Peter Lutheran Church property.

Constructed in 1872–and first called Sarah’s Grove School, it is believed to have been the first of five public schools in Schaumburg Township. It was later renamed Schween’s Grove School and called Schaumburg Centre Public School until 1954. For 82 years, the building served as a one-room schoolhouse, and was the last active one room schoolhouse in District 54.

With the widening of Schaumburg Road, the building was saved from demolition and temporarily placed on the grounds of the Town Square Shopping Center in 1979. It was permanently relocated to the St. Peter Lutheran Church property in September, 1981. It has been fully restored as a museum and is under the auspices of the Schaumburg Township Historical Society.

SCHAUMBURG CENTER SCHOOL OPEN HOUSE

May 10, 2015

The Schaumburg Township Historical Society will sponsor its annual open house of the Schaumburg Center School after the Memorial Day celebration at St. Peter Lutheran Church on Monday, May 25, 2015.  The open house will be held from 12:00 to 3 p.m.

Constructed in 1872–and first called Sarah’s Grove School, it is believed to have been the first of five public schools in Schaumburg Township. It was later renamed Schween’s Grove School and called Schaumburg Centre Public School until 1954. For 82 years, the building served as a one-room schoolhouse, and was the last active one room schoolhouse in District 54.

With the widening of Schaumburg Road, the building was saved from demolition and temporarily placed on the grounds of the Town Square Shopping Center in 1979. It was permanently relocated to the St. Peter Lutheran Church property in September, 1981. It has been fully restored as a museum and is under the auspices of the Schaumburg Township Historical Society.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY CONANT HIGH SCHOOL!

November 16, 2014

3744

Our guest contributor this week is Pat Barch, the Hoffman Estates Historian.  This column originally appeared in the September 2014 issue of the Hoffman Estates Citizen, the village’s newsletter.  The column appears here, courtesy of the Village of Hoffman Estates.

Congratulations to James B. Conant High School on its 50th anniversary.  It was the first high school in Hoffman Estates and Schaumburg Township, opening in September of 1964.  At the time, it was planned to house 1,700 students.  The building was built at a cost of $13.50 a square foot.  The architects, Fridstein & Fitch had also designed Hoffman Plaza and many of the other elementary schools in Hoffman Estates. Conant was designed with many windowless classrooms, to lessen distractions, and it would be air conditioned so students could attend summer school in comfort.  The new school would have 52 classrooms. 700 parking spaces would be provided for students and staff.  That first year, only freshman, sophomores and juniors attended.

A little known fact about Conant High School is the serving of the first school lunch. It was served to the school board members, who were touring the new facility, in the unfinished cafeteria. It was hosted by the school architect, Marvin Fitch. Tables made of cement block and slabs of plaster board with plastic over the top served as “furniture”. Since the school was still under construction, the meal had to be catered.  The board was served boneless fried chicken, hot potato salad, molded fruit salad, rolls & butter with cherry and apple pie to finish the meal.  The August, 1964 Daily Herald reports that the catered food “had to be brought into the building over a block wide quagmire of mud.”

A favorite hangout for the early Conant students would’ve been Hippo’s Hot Dogs. It was just a short walk from school.  It was a great place to go for one of the best hot dogs in town.

The land for Conant High School was donated by F & S Construction Company who built Hoffman Estates. It had been part of the Arthur Hammerstein Farm.  One of the farm’s caretakers lived in the old home that is west of Conant on Aberdeen.  Another farm, the Winkelhacke farm, was across Plum Grove Road to the east.  The Winkelhacke family had been one of the first families to move to Schaumburg Township sometime between the late 1830s and early 1840s.  The early students would’ve been familiar with the farm.  A small portion of the farm north of the football field was planted in corn for many years after the school opened.  Helen Brach, whose family owned the Brach Candy Company, also had a large farm that was just to the east of the Winkelhacke farm.  The entire area was a mix of farms, new homes and new schools.

Some of the old timers who lived on the local farms have told their stories about traveling to Palatine High School long before Conant came to be. There were no school buses.  Everyone had to find a ride with parents who had cars.  Many of the “kids” would learn to drive when they were freshman and would pile their friends & others in the car and drive to school.  Winter was their biggest challenge.  There were on snow days back then and the roads were terrible.

Happy 50th to all the staff and students of Conant High School.

I’d love to have all those “kids” who grew up in Hoffman Estates come to our Hoffman Estates Museum program on Saturday, Sept. 27th from 1 till 2:30 pm  at the Village Hall.  Share your stories of what you did growing up in Hoffman Estates.  What didn’t you tell your Mom?  Bring your pals with.  I hope to see you then.  If you have questions, please send me an e-mail.

Pat Barch
Hoffman Estates Village Historian
Eagle2064@comcast.net