Historic East School
Posted by: YoSam.
N 39° 36.567 W 090° 48.057
15S E 688784 N 4386721
Quick Description: Civil War Era school, now preserved and used as a museum & local Theatre Guild.
Location: Illinois, United States
Date Posted: 5/7/2008 7:55:15 AM
Waymark Code: WM3QWX
Historic East School is 51st on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built between 1861 and 1865, during the Civil War. Classes started in 1866. The school was built by John Houston of Griggsville. The contract price was $35,000. John Miles Vansdel of Chicago was the distinguished architect. He is also known for the Governor's Mansion in Springfield, Illinois.
The stones used in the building were brought down the Illinois River from Joliet. The bricks were "burned" on Monroe Street. The windows are all arched with stone. A large clock was mounted in the tower and the bell strikes on the hour. The clock was restored and the bell was donated by Colonel Ross. It was estimated that the building would comfortably accommodate 1200 students. The building, fully completed and furnished, cost $45,000. At the completion of the East School in 1866, it was one of the finest and largest buildings of its kind in the state and "fulfilled the requirements of a modern school plant." The school held all of the grades in eight large identical rooms, with a closet in each. The third floor was the gymnasium.
The original building was heated by hot air piped from furnaces in the basement. There were no inside toilet facilities, but there were outside "privies" located east of the building next to the street. Presently, restrooms are in the basement, through the side doors near the front.
Original blackboards were simply black paint on the plastered walls. Generally, they were completely around the room, including between the windows. The slateboards were installed around 1900 over the black painted area. Benches were available for small children to stand upon to reach the blackboards and attached to the walls under the blackboards so they could be hinged down when required. They were in the southwest, southeast, and northwest rooms on the first floor.
Electric lights were not heard of until after 1866. It is presumed that due to the many large windows, additional lights were not required. Electric lights were added around 1910. The present fixtures are believed to be the originals and have been cleaned and refinished to their current condition. The east and west exit porches are of concrete today, but were originally made of wood. The north main doors are the originals.
During original class period operations, the janitor rang the large bell at 9 AM and 1 PM.