Gazette Article by: Pat Woolson
Appeared in the Gazette: Fall 1997
When the Winnetka Board of Education was formed in 1891, it was plagued with several problems. Residents living at the north end of the village wanted another school built nearer Lakeside (now Hubbard Woods), because children had too far to walk to the center of Winnetka. The board, having no funds, could not respond to the Lakesiders’ request. As a result, area residents formed a corporation, sold shares, and constructed a small school on the southwest corner of Burr Avenue and Tower Road. It housed classes for first, second, and third grade children. This facility, originally called Columbia School, was renamed Lakeside School.
Despite such modern improvements as electric lights and running water, the building could not meet the needs of an expanding population. Therefore, in 1912 the board of education planned a new school. It chose the firm of Perkins, Fellows and Hamilton as architects and allotted $27,000 to the project. The new building was designed to look warm and inviting and blend in with its surroundings.
Architecturally innovative, when completed in 1915 it was a one-story structure containing an auditorium and four classrooms. Each classroom had a skylight and its own outside entrance. Named Skokie School, in 1916 it housed four teachers and 96 students. In 1922 the name was transferred to the new junior high school at Elm and Glendale Streets, and the grade school was renamed Hubbard Woods School.
E. N. Rhodes, an elementary school principal in Oak Park, was hired as the superintendent of schools in 1914. Both at Hubbard Woods and throughout the village, Rhodes encouraged the development of school libraries and classes for children with special needs. He also supported the growth of strong programs in music, art, home economics, and manual arts. In addition, a director of playgrounds and physical education was employed to support the growth and development of young children.
Rhodes’ successor, Carleton W. Washburne, school superintendent from 1919 to 1943, transformed the Winnetka schools into a renowned progressive school system.
Because of the rapid growth of the elementary school population in Hubbard Woods, additions to the school were built in 1918, 1923, 1925, and 1930. In 1953 all the classrooms were remodeled, and in 1991 a new gymnasium was added. The former gym and creative arts room were remodeled to provide an up-to-date library and technology center.
Today Hubbard Woods School continues to apply Carleton W. Washburne’s progressive educational theories. Like all Winnetka schools, it operates under the statement of district philosophy, “Winnetka, A Community of Learners.”