Winnetka Public Schools: 150 Years
Gazette: Spring/Summer 2009
In recognition of the 150th Anniversary of District 36
A Brief Chronology of Winnetka Public Schools
Winnetka’s first public school is organized as District #2, with a one-room schoolhouse at Maple and Elm streets.
Another, larger school building (24’ x 36’) is erected on Walnut at Elm Street.
Winnetka is incorporated as a village; Village Council becomes ex-officio school board.
District #2 building is sold to Unitarian Church; they add a tower and move it to corner of Maple and Cherry streets.
Student body outgrows Walnut St. building; moves to Academy Hall until 1899. The Hall, on the site of the current fire/police station, is used for various purposes and demolished in 1963.
Residents of Lakeside (now Hubbard Woods) fund construction of the 1st-through-3rd grade Columbia School at the southwest corner of Burr and North Ave. (now Tower Rd.) so that their children do not have to walk all the way to Academy Hall.
School board purchases property from Kate Dwyer on Chestnut St. from Elm to Oak. Winnetka architect William Otis designs a school named for Horace Mann, Massachusetts lawyer and influential figure in elementary education.
Voters approve a major addition to Horace Mann School, again designed by William Otis. Census shows 454 families; 512 school-age children, 168 of whom are enrolled in private or parochial schools in Winnetka.
Residents approve $10,000 purchase of two new school sites (now Greeley and Hubbard Woods schools). Future site of Hubbard Woods leased as pasture until school construction begins in 1915.
William Otis named architect for what will be Greeley School, named for local resident Samuel Sewall Greeley. School opens January, 1913.
A new building designed by Perkins, Fellows & Hamilton replaces the nearby Columbia School and is called The Skokie School. In 1922 it is renamed Hubbard Woods School.
Voters approve purchase of a site at Elm and Glendale streets for a junior high school — a novel concept at the time.
Carleton W. Washburne is hired as Superintendent.
Voters are asked to decide between a new junior high or an addition to Horace Mann. The junior high school is approved by a narrow margin, and funds are raised through door-to-door solicitation.
The Skokie School opens. Designed by Perkins, Fellows & Hamilton, the building was funded entirely through donations.
Eliel Saarinen and Perkins, Wheeler & Will are named to design a new southwest school. (Larry Perkins is the son of the architect whose firm designed Hubbard Woods and Skokie.) Landfill for the marshy site comes from excavating the Skokie Lagoons and lowering the train tracks through town.
Voters approve construction of the southwest school and sale of the Horace Mann School site. Horace Mann is demolished in 1942.
Schoolchildren name the new school Crow Island, for the birds who roost on an island in the adjacent marsh.
Carleton Washburne leaves Winnetka, accepts post as major in the U.S. Army.
Rising enrollment results in addition of a south wing to The Skokie School.
Perkins & Will is hired to design a new school on the Skokie campus.
Voters overwhelmingly approve the $3.65 million bond issue. Carleton W. Washburne Junior High School is dedicated as a 7th/8th grade school in October 1969.
With enrollment declining, the Board votes to close one school; proposes a three-school configuration using Crow Island, Skokie and Washburne schools. The final decision is to close The Skokie School.
In July the School Board votes to raze The Skokie School and use the site as playfields for Washburne School. Public outcry leads them to rescind the decision one week later. The Skokie School Foundation is created to find an alternative use for the building. Tenants include private schools and the Winnetka Historical Society.
The north half of The Skokie School reopens for 6th graders. The south half opens to 5th graders in 2000.
Much of this material is drawn from a 40-page history of District #36 that was created by the late Steve Adams. The document is on file at 411 Linden.