A photo of Lincoln School in 1919.
Educating students in Savanna began a few years after the first settlers arrived as they knew the value of an education. In 1836, Hannah Fuller arrived in the settlement and took on the task of teaching the small children of the pioneers.
School was held in the log house of Aaron and Harriet Pierce and there was six students, the four Pierce children, Jefferson Blundell, and a boy living with Vance Davidson. Since that time, Savanna has never been with a school.
Dr. Elias Woodruff taught about a dozen children from 1837-38 in the log building on Main Street near the current location of the fire station. The next location for a school was a frame building at the corner of Main and Webster. This building was also used as the courthouse when Savanna was the county seat.
As the town grew to 500, other buildings were used to house the students but the desire of the people was reached when they were able to build the Little Stone School House in 1847 and employ regular teachers. The school was located at the junction of Madison Street and Third Street and it served for 44 years until being torn down in 1891.
Little Stone School
When constructed, the Little Stone School House had a bell tower located on the front of the building. Ladies of Savanna raised the funds needed to buy the town’s first bell. It was purchased in 1847 and placed in the belfry. The bell is now located at the Savanna Museum and Cultural Center.
Soon the one-room school was overcrowded and another school was constructed on Third Street, the Upper Brick School. It took care of the higher grades of students while the youngsters of the primary grades remained at the Stone School.
Again the two buildings were overcrowded and it was necessary to provide more accommodations. This time they converted a brick building that had been a church and was known as the Middle Brick School.
The completion of the Racine and Southwestern Railroad in 1862 had brought many new families. Each year saw an increase in population and an overcrowded condition in schools.
During the period following the close of the Civil War, it was necessary to use a store building on Main Street for the overflow and the little frame church that had been built by the Methodist on Third Street was brought into service for a school building.
As the 1860s ended, there was much talk of constructing a new building as other towns were doing through northern Illinois. In 1870, David L. Bowen was the draftsman, architect, contractor and builder of the original Lincoln School. The new school was a three-story building with a French roof and heated by furnaces. The cost of the building was $24,500 and Mr. Goodrich was Lincoln’s first teacher.
Original LIncoln School
But with the coming of the Chicago, Burlington & Qunicy Railroad and the large increase in population, the five rooms of the new school proved inadequate and the stone house and the brick church were fixed up and brought back into service. An addition was eventually made at Lincoln and the small schools were discontinued.
With population increasing on the east end of Savanna, a new two-room school was constructed on Chicago Avenue in 1887 at a cost of $4,000. In a short-time, that building was outgrown and in 1893 an additional two room structure was built.
In 1901-02 Savanna Township High School was built at the junction of North Fifth and Chicago Avenue at a cost of $35,000. In 1922, an addition was added to the west side.
The two buildings on Chicago Avenue became overcrowded and it was decided to tear them down and build a new school. Construction began in 1915 and was completed the following year. Avenue School served students until 1988 and was recently the home of Facemakers.
Near the turn of the century, Chestnut Park School was constructed on Viaduct Road but was replaced by a new building in 1915. Over the years, Chestnut Park School had four additions, the last coming in 1954 when the academic wing was put on the south side of the building.
Construction of Lincoln School.
In 1928, construction began on the second Lincoln School, which was built in front of the old Lincoln Building. The building was completed in 1929 and housed students for over 70 years.
On April 29, 1957, a fire destroyed the second floor of the Township High School and there was over $400,000 damage to the building. The school was torn down and was replaced by a new high school on Longmoor Avenue. The school was completed and dedicated on Jan. 26. 1958.
In 1982, the Savanna School Board decided to close Chestnut Park School and relocating the grade levels. Prior to the closing, Chestnut held grade K-2, Avenue School had grades K-5, Lincoln was grades 6-8 and the high school had grades 9-12. After the closing of Chestnut, all K-3 students moved to the Avenue School, while fourth and fifth grades were shifted to the high school. Lincoln remained grades 6-8 and 9-12 stayed at high school.
Six years later in 1988, the School Board decided to close another school—this time the Avenue fell prey. Grades K-5 were moved to Lincoln and the high school housed grades 6-12.
Downsizing finally caught up to the school district and in 1994 a study began to solve the overcrowding problems in th district. After two failed referendums, the citizens of Savanna saw the need for a new building and in March of 1998 passed a referendum that led to the construction of a new Chestnut Park School, located on Wacker Road. The $6.4 million 70,000 square foot facility housed over 700 kindergarten through eighth grade students when it opened in 2000.
In 2004, the citizens of Savanna, Mount Carroll and Thomson voted to form a consolidated district. The high school on Longmoor is the now West Carroll High School and the newest school on Wacker Road is West Carroll Primary, which holds grades K-5.
The second Avenue School that was built in 1916 and still stands today.
Savanna Township High School after construction in 1902.
Savanna Township High School after addition.
Avenue School after the addition in 1893.