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A Back-to-School History Lesson

Celebrating 185 Years

Schoolchildren scuffle near the Fox River, a high school is built, and the dedication of two sisters to their work are all a part of the rich history of education in the City of St. Charles.

West Side v. East Side

  • The West Side Public School in St. Charles was built in 1854 for $6,000. 
  • The school was built at the corner of Illinois Street and 5th Street, just north of where the Evan Shelby School building is located today.

     

The West Side School

 

  • St. Charles’ second public school, the East Side School, was built in 1856 for $15,000. By some accounts, it was considered the most expensive school building in Kane County. 
  • The school was built due to numerous complaints from east side parents who did not like that the town’s public school was built on the west side. They found it unfair that their children had to cross the river and walk up hill in order to attend classes.
  • When the building burned down in the late 1920s, it was replaced with Lincoln Elementary School.

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The East SIde School

 

The Charles Haines School/St. Charles High School

  • After a rivalry grew between the East Side and West Side students, including physical confrontations near the Fox River, residents agreed that a new school needed to be built that would combine the older children from both sides of town.
  • Resident and philanthropist Charles Haines helped make this possible by donating land and money. The plan worked, and peace was restored in the town.
  • The Charles Haines School, built in 1897, was the first high school in St. Charles. Junior High classes were offered on one floor and high school classes were offered on another.
  • This school was built on 7th Ave. and Main Street, where First State Bank, the post office and Lundeen's are located today.
  • Overcrowding at the school became a problem in the 1920s. To help, a new high school (Community High/Thompson School) was built in 1926. The Haines School then became a junior high school only.
  • Unfortunately, Haines School had to be taken down in the late 1950s as it was deemed unsafe for students.
  • Then, Haines Middle School was built in the late 1950s.

  

The Charles Haines School

 

Munhall School

  • Pictured below are Helen Munhall and Mae Munhall Driscoll, the namesake sisters of the Munhall School. The school was named after them to honor their years of service in the 1950’s. Both were important educators in the history of St. Charles.

Photos courtesy of the St. Charles History Museum

Visit the 185th Anniversary page of our website for more historical photos and stories.

updated Aug 01, 2019