Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The C.W.M. Brown/Sears Building, Miner & Pearson

Charles William Montgomery Brown had a fascinating story. He grew up in Canada working in a general store, starting selling silks and velours because his hands didn't perspire. In 1887, he sailed with his wife on a steamer down the Erie Canal, arriving at the west side river docks. He found a job in less than a half hour. For ten years, he worked at the three main State Stret Department Stores, Marshall Field & Company, Mandel Brothers, and for the longest time with Schlessinger and Mayer. In 1897, suffering from a long-time battle with tuberculosis, he retreated to Des Plaines and spent six months riding a bicycle to regain his health. He began the Des Plaines Department Store in the Parsons Building, next to the old City Hall at Lee and Ellinwood. Within a few months, it moved to the Behmiller building, the distinctive Victorian building with two bay windows on Miner Street.

Meyer House Hotel at Rear, across tracks. This picture is from the vantage of Kinder Hardware.

In 1900, Brown purchased the Meyer House Hotel property next door, a three story frame building, which had held the city's first liquor license, tore it down and began erecting his own building, a department store with apartments above. Some sources indicate it was built by local contractor Frank Cook, builder of the first Des Plaines Public Library, Gillespie Printery (Bremer Building), the first Des Plaines State Bank, the first St. Mary's, and the Standard Oil Building, as well as schools and other buildings. The architecture is probably best described as Rundbogenstil, a german style that interpreted classical styles more freely; this can be seen in its unusual dentilled pediment, squat Ionic columns, and arched doorways. It was supposedly the first store in town with gas lights, supplemented by a number of skylights.

This is an under-construction photo, and the best overall showing the detail of the building. The parapet wall at the top is not in place yet, nor are the windows. Notice the striped roman-style piers.

Early interior of the Des Plaines Department Store; this view would be inside the Cut N Roll barbershop now. Such high ceilings!

Dedicating Pearson Street, 1910

In those days, Brown's carried groceries & General Merchandise such as buggy whips, tobacco, and Buster Brown shoes. Even open on Sundays, women would drop off shopping lists and CWM would fill orders, paid off with baskets of produce, eggs, and butter. By the 1950s they were a specialty store for Women and Children, well-known for its creative window displays.

In 1937, because of the depression, Brown's swapped locations with Sears, Roebuck & Company, who remodeled the exterior a bit. It was the only Sears in the Northwest suburbs for a long time, and sold only hard lines, not clothing. It closed August 31, 1971.

The next year, the building was remodeled by owner Peter Mandas, partly for use as temporary City Hall facilities while the new City Hall was being built. The project was delayed repeatedly, first with a disagreement over the garage to the rear, which the city wanted torn down and Mandas wanted to convert to a store. The city had earlier tried to have the building torn down over structural concerns, but these were eventually addressed. The back-and-forth with the city and cheap remodeling were a point of contention, and work was stopped numerous times. This is when the cheap black and white stucco was added to the building.

The first floor was remodeled into four stores, three facing Miner and one on Pearson. The City Hall took up two stores and housed the Mayor's, Clerk's, Health, and Finance offices. The other contained Stewardi Dress Shop.

The only other major change to the building came from Subway, who cut larger openings into the wall. Presumably this was not a bearing wall; it would be difficult to match the orange brick. Maybe a mural can cover these sins.

Miner & Pearson - Hoffman Card

So what would rehabilitation of this building entail?

First and foremost, ripping out the stucco! Isn't it strange and sad that the 1900 storefront was all-glass, something that would be extremely modern today? It's too bad the 1970s storefronts are so traditional and boring. If it is to remain 3 separate stores, then new entrances can be added, but please, no more stucco! There are some missing limestone courses above the storefront that could be replaced by that or concrete; other than that, the cornice needs repainting (probably an off-white) and should extend all the way down Pearson, and the parapet above it should be a uniform height. Also the second-story windows should be a dark color. These changes will make it an attractive cornerstone of our downtown again. The anthemion ornament at the peak of the pediment triangle is missing. And I suppose you could add back the chimneys, too, and maybe something reminiscent of the Sears hanging sign.

Here are some of the other stores that have occupied this building:

1522 Miner

1976-1986 - Erehwon Mountain Supply
1995-1998 - Maggie's Toybox
? - Spy Source
Current: Cut N Roll Salon

1524 Miner

1996-1998 - Bob Shambora Edward Jones
Mejico Express
Brings You Back Bakery
That Special Event

1526 Miner

1978-1979 Schmid Realtors
1979 - Weinberger 10th Dist. Congress Campaign office
1980-1986 - IVY Temps
1986-2000 - ABA Temps
-Nov 2007 Subway

670 Pearson

1976: Viking Locksmith
1978: The Oriental Corner
1981-82: Colony Macrame Shoppe
-Nov 2007 Subway

Sunday, September 20, 2009

You Will Like Des Plaines - 1924 Sheet Music

This is sheet music from 1924, a song promoting Des Plaines. It was written by a member of the Des Plaines Building & Loan Association and set to a William James Kirkpatrick Hymn. It looks like it was promotional material for Walter L. Plew's Des Plaines Gardens subdivision (Between Algonquin, Thacker, Jeanette, and Webster). It's cheesy, outdated, and fun. Someone needs to record a video of themselves playing & singing this and upload it. As a bonus, the music contains a fact sheet about what was so great about living in Des Plaines in 1924 as well as rare photos.
You Will Like Des Plaines - Sheet Music

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Even More Entertainment Downtown: Shoestring Productions opening Sunday

Des Plaines Masonic Temple Building

The Des Plaines Journal reported Wednesday that Shoestring Productions, a new cabaret-style theatre troupe, will be opening at the Des Plaines Masonic Temple/Stage One building on Sunday. They will be running two productions, "Listen to My Heart: the songs of David Friedman," and "Cole," featuring the songs of Cole Porter, on Sunday and Monday evenings. Tickets are a steal at only 10 dollars, including a beverage and dessert at the new Sweet Remembrance coffee shop.

Shoestring Productions is housed in the ballroom of the Masonic Temple building, a space that has not traditionally been used for the public. Originally, the ballroom was the main lodge hall for the Masonic bodies; that is why it is windowless except for its skylight, which was originally a stained glass creation by Gustave Brand studios, but is now plain glass. The plasterwork in the ballroom is much more distinctively Masonic than in the theatre. For many years its dramatic height was hidden by a suspended dropped ceiling. Make sure to visit and check out one of Des Plaines' most interesting and, until now, underutilized spaces.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Another New Restaurant Coming Downtown: Dotombori Japanese Restaurant

Miner & Pearson - Hoffman Card

According to this week's City Council Agenda, the former Subway at Miner & Pearson in the 1900 C.W.M. Brown building, is set to be replaced by Dotombori Japanese Restaurant, specializing in Sushi and Bento, operated by Dae Hee Yoo. (Bento is basically a quick Japanese lunch box.) Dotombori is seeking a H-1 liquor license for consumption of beer and wine on premises. You might recall that not long ago an Indian karaoke bar wanted to open in this space, but was vetoed by the neighbors due to noise concerns. I don't anticipate those objections will arise here; not that it's reasonable to expect quiet when you move into a downtown. This also presents an excellent opportunity to utilize the Facade Rehabilitation Program to restore this downtown landmark to its former beauty, or at least something better than the striped aggregate that is there now.

Downtown is quickly becoming a center for quality restaurants of every stripe; Red Sauce Italian (Oliveti, Leona's), Upscale Italian (Via Roma!), Vietnamese (Dung Gia), Thai (Thai Square), Diner (Choo Choo), Breakfast/American (Sugar Bowl), Chain American (Cheeseburger in Paradise), Bakery/Sandwiches (Panera, Potbelly, Sweet Remembrance), Authentic Mexican (Mexico Restaurant), Gourmet Mexican (Lalo's), and whatever combination of Italian, Indian, and American Brasserie is supposed to be.

There's still a few niches to fill, but it seems like downtown Des Plaines is evolving into a real culinary attraction, probably due to all the condominium residents around. Just imagine how well these restaurants would do if the Des Plaines Theatre and Masonic Temple were restored to full function as cultural, film, and arts centers: all those hungry patrons looking for somewhere to eat and something to do. It's great to have restaurants as an attraction, but they need an engine, an anchor to sustain them.

Friday, September 11, 2009

New Streetlights, Street Furniture Coming to Oakton, Lee, and Miner

Anything is an improvement, and will make the streets more pedestrian-friendly.

Except past reports have said that the lights they plan to use are the Acorn-stlye ones in Metropolitan Square. Wouldn't it make more sense to use replicas of the lights that actually were downtown from the 1910s-1950s (like these - the same kind you'll find in places like Evanston and Lake Forest), and Modern style lights that evoke the 40s and 50s on Oakton, instead of Metropolitan Square Acorn lights that evoke a brand-new (or is it bland-new?) shopping center? Has this process been consistent with the recommendations of the city's 2005 Design Guidelines? What does the upcoming Form-Based Zoning Code have to say about streetscape design?

To make these improvements work to their full potential, they need to be well-thought out and consistent with a larger plan. Look around downtown and it's obvious what happens when you try to do these things piecemeal, as we've been doing over the last 40 years: inconsistency, inefficiency when everything gets replaced again to match to the newest idea, and a cobbled-together appearance.

State Grant To Help Revamp Downtown DP, Oakton St.
journal-topics.com on 9/11/09

Downtown Des Plaines and a section along Oakton Street will take on a new and fresher look beginning next spring thanks to $1 million in planned lighting and beautification improvements. Aldermen Tuesday night agreed to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with the Illinois Dept. of Transportation that calls for the awarding of an $800,000 state grant. That money, along with an additional $200,000 in city funds will pay for a number of improvements in the downtown area along Miner and Lee streets and on Oakton Street.

According to Tim Oakley, Des Plaines' director of engineering and public works, planned work calls for the installation of new ornamental light poles on both sides of Miner Street and Lee Street in the central business district along with the placement of new lawn furniture such as benches and trash cans.

The same kind of furniture will be placed along Oakton Street, although it is not yet known how much money will be available for that. The city's $200,000 contribution will come from funds on deposit in its downtown Tax Increment Financing Dist. No. 1 fund.

Oakley said formal bids will be sought in November with work scheduled for next spring.

During the last few years, the city has made a number of downtown beautification improvements including a new park setting east of the Des Plaines Public Library and quicker removal of trash.

Two Des Plaines Restaurants to Visit: Mehanata & Via Roma

Looking for somewhere different to eat in Des Plaines?

The local media have covered two interesting options this week, Mehanata (The Old Well) and Via Roma.

Here's what the Daily Herald had to say about Mehanata, a Bulgarian Restaurant at 1141 Lee Street, between Foremost Liquors and 7-11 (The building was built in about 1936 and enlarged in 1949 as Herman H. Wolf's Westfield Motors Hudson, and served as a number of auto dealerships afterward). The restaurant has been there a few years, but I've never visited - I never knew quite what to make of it, since it doesn't have much of a sign, but it seems to draw a crowd. I'll make a point of visiting now.

Inviting umbrella tables sit on the patio. Indoors, a charmingly rustic motif of dark woods, terra cotta tiles, bright tablecloths and canopies jars just a bit with a huge screen playing Bulgarian music videos. On weekends, DJs and musicians entertain.

The menu, in English and Cyrillic, is dauntingly long: nine soups, including the refreshing national favorite, tarator, a chilled summer potage made from yogurt and cucumber flavored with garlic and dill; more than 20 salads, such as the famed salata shopska, named for its Sofia origins; hot and cold appetizers; cheese; several pages of chicken and pork items; beef dishes; fish; a page of kebabs and grilled fare; omelets; and more.

The other restaurant is a new arrival, Via Roma, at 686 Lee, in the Morava building next to the downtown Post Office. We had written about this space before, but I guess the rumors were false. This sounds much more interesting than another Mexican restaurant. The Des Plaines Journal wrote about it Wednesday:

Proprietors Chef Alessandro Forti, and his fiancé Lisa Leslie, recently moved to Des Plaines. Forti said when he arrived in Des Plaines he quickly found there was, "no place to go out and have a good dinner."

After emigrating from the Roma region of central Italy in 1993, Forti quickly became a top sous-chef and executive chef at some of Chicago's most renowned restaurants including La Strada on Michigan Avenue, La Donna on Clark Street in Chicago and Sapori Trattoria in Lincoln Park.

With his history of running kitchens in some of Chicago's most prestigious and expensive restaurants, people might be surprised at Via Roma's prices. While the Zuppa Di Pesce (a seafood dish) will cost diners $29.95 at La Donna, the most expensive dish on Via Roma's menu is the Saltimbocca Romana (veal and prosciutto rolls in a white wine sauce) for $8.50.

Forti pledged that everything would be made from scratch using all organic ingredients and would be influenced by the Roma region in the center of Italy where he grew up, incorporating the best from northern and southern Italian cuisines.
Strangely, they are only open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the week and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the weekends for now. Hours notwithstanding, this sounds like a promising addition to downtown.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Happy Birthday, Maine West! 50 Years Today

That's right - today marks 50 years to the day of the grand opening of Maine Township High School West, or Maine West High School as nearly everyone calls it. It's gone through a lot of changes over the years, but our community is lucky to have such a beautiful and unique school that retains so much of its character. I'm confident that in a few years, Maine West will be seen as the architectural equal of Maine East.

I won't go into the history too much today; I'll let the articles below speak for themselves, except to say that this event 50 years ago might be considered the final severing of Park Ridge and Des Plaines. If you're on facebook, you may have to click to see original to see them. We have Lux et Veritas, the program from the November dedication ceremony, graciously shared by Fred Suevel of the Maine West Alumni Association; an article from the journal Nation's Schools covering Maine West's innovations; and a page from a book on mosaic art, about the work that has since been covered by new student art over the auditorium entrance. We also have links to photo galleries at the Maine West Alumni page to enjoy. May the next 50 years be just as kind to Maine West!

Lux et Veritas

Lux Et Veritas presenting a new concept in education Maine Township High School W e s t MAINE TOWNSHIP HIGH SCHOOL 1755 S. W o l f Road Des Plaines, Illinois WEST THE MAINE WAY PREJUDICE "Prejudice is the child of ignorance." —William Hazlitt What is my attitude toward people of different color, nationality or creed? On what basis do I evaluate my fellow man? PRESIDING DEDICATION AND OPEN HOUSE N O V E M B E R 8, 1959 Mr. Philip A . Paulson, President, Board of Education Township High School, District N o . 207 MUSIC Concert Band, Written and Directed by Mr. Jared T. Spears PRELIMINARY FANFARE, CHORALE A N D MARCH INTEGRITY "Friends, if we be honest with ourselves, we shall be honest with each other." —George MacDonald Where does honesty end and deceit begin? T o what extent can others rely on my integrity? INVOCATION (First Performance, Especially Prepared for the Dedication of Maine Township High School West) Rev. R. K. W o b b e , Pastor, Christ Evangelical and Reformed Church, Des Plaines Douglas Wright, President, Student Council, Maine Township High School West Directed by Robert Kuite, Chairman, Music Department, Maine Township High School West Senior Choir, Directed by Mr. Wilbur Schaefer Maine Township High School West Mr. Harry D. Anderson Former Superintendent, Township High School, District N o . 207 Mr. Ralph J. Frost, Jr., Principal, Maine Township High School West Joseph F. Ringhofer, Representative from Childs & Smith, Architects-Engineers Mr. Philip A. Paulson, President, Board of Education, Township High School, District N o . 207 Dr. Earle W. Wiltse, Superintendent, Township High School, District N o . 207 Dr. Benjamin C. Willis, General Superintendent, Chicago Public Schools Senior Orchestra and Combined Chorus Directed by Mr. Wilbur Schaefer Rev. C. Wesley Israel, Pastor, First Methodist Church, Des Plaines RESPECT "Men are respectable only as they respect." —Ralph Waldo Emerson How often do I respect the other person's opinion even though it may differ from mine? How do I regard the advice of my elders? How does my respect affect the moral beliefs of my associates? PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE NATIONAL ANTHEM RESPONSIBILITY "Responsibility is like a string of which we can see only the middle. Both ends are out of sight." —William McFee T o what ends do I strive to carry out a promise? When should I follow the crowd, and when should I stand on personal principles? What responsibilities have I to my school, church, and country? "GIVE ME Y O U R TIRED, Y O U R POOR" —Berlin " A DREAM COME TRUE" I N T R O D U C T I O N O F P L A T F O R M GUESTS PRESENTATION O F B U I L D I N G FRIENDLINESS "The only way to have a friend is to be one." —Ralph Waldo Emerson What is my attitude towards the newcomer? When is a clique a good institution, and when does it become a menace? By what standards do I judge my friends? Am I able to pass this test in the eyes of others? ACCEPTANCE OF BUILDING INTRODUCTION OF SPEAKER DEDICATORY ADDRESS SPORTSMANSHIP "For when the One Great Scorer comes to write against your name, • He marks—not that you won or lost—but how you played the game." —Grantland Rice What constitutes a good loser?—a good winner? What does sportsmanship mean to me? "The greatest fault is to be conscious of none." "BATTLE H Y M N OF THE REPUBLIC" Waring, Ringwald ( A R R ) BENEDICTION Harry D. Anderson Retired Superintendent Maine Township High School District No. 207 The staff and student body of Maine Township High School West are eager to accept the educational challenge presented by our new building. In this period of world history when democracy stands threatened by totalitarian forces, doing one's best must become the rule rather than the exception. We at Maine West will do our part to engender this point of view in all who come to work with us. Our staff is pledged to carry on the fine educational tradition which has become so closely associated in this area with the word Maine, and we shall concentrate our energies on the maintenance of high standards. We shall do our best to provide stimulating experiences for all of our pupils; and it will be our hope that these students will acquire new skills and increase in their desire to learn during their years at Maine West. We expect our young people to graduate, ready to take their places as discerning citizens in a complex world. And in addition, we will want them to go forth with urbanity, the capacity for self-criticism, a mastery of self, and the ability to suspend judgment. On behalf of the faculty and student body, I wish to extend our appreciation to the community for this fine building, and again express our determination to make Maine West a school of which we can all be proud. RALPH J. FROST, JR. Maine Township High School West is the result of the realistic decisions of taxpayers, the vision of the Board of Education, and the leadership o f Mr. H. D. Anderson, whose contribution to the outstanding educational reputation of this community is recognized by the Board through the dedication of the Harry D. Anderson Library. This community has done a fine j o b o f planning in the past. Much remains to be done in the future. Both Maine Township High School and Maine Township High School West will be filled to capacity within a few years. It is time now to begin planning for additional facilities to care for an increasing student population. The Board o f Education is in the process of acquiring a third high school site. Educational planning takes time; our future courses o f action should reflect the social and intellectual desires of lay-citizens. It should involve the combined thinking of classroom teachers, school administrators, architects, school board members, and educational consultants. Careful planning now will ensure that adequate school facilities will be available when they are needed. As superintendent of Maine Township High School District No. 207, it will be my responsibility to direct an educational program for high school youth that is as new and modern as this building. EARLE W. WILTSE This building is an emblem of the citizens' faith in their youth. The structure is unique in design. Three academic high schools are sharing central services that would be excessively expensive if provided for each high school. Ground was broken July 14, 1958. The efficiency and speed of construction is a tribute to Childs & Smith, Architects; Fred Berglund & Son, Inc., General Contractor, and their sub-contractors; the Plumbing, Heating, Ventilating and Electrical Contractors; School Suppliers; Atkinson & Fitzgerald, Landscape Architects & Engineers; and D. & D. Contractors, Inc., Site Development Contractor. The Board of Education has rendered meritorious service. The basic objective of public education is to prepare youth to live in a democratic society. How well this structure serves depends upon the efforts of the youth; the devotion of the faculty; and the loyalty of Maine Township citizenry to the ideals of freedom. The future opportunities are unlimited. H. D. ANDERSON M a i n e o v e r the y e a r s . . . a short historical outline of a c c o m p l i s h m e n t , c h a n g e , a n d traditions Almost 60 years ago, in April of 1901, the citizens of Maine Township voted to establish a high school. In November of 1902 Maine Township High School convened, with a student enrollment of 35, and a faculty of 2! The first graduating class, in 1904, consisted of 3 people. By 1908 scholastic and academic achievement, combined with a larger faculty, had developed the new school to a point where it met the standards of the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. Since that time Maine has been continuously accredited by this Association. Service . . . not only to the township, and to the state, but to the country as well. . . has long been the tradition at Maine. The High School Cadet Corps, formed in 1918, prepared many of Maine's students to fulfill their call to duty, where they served with honor and distinction. Following World War I came a flurry of organizational activity. In these years several of Maine's finest traditions of student activities were established. The Quill, forerunner of the Lens, was born in 1919; and in 1922 a chapter of the National Honor Society was established at Maine Township. The Maine Board, forerunner of today's Student Council, was formed. And the West Suburban Conference was formed with Maine as a charter member. This too, was the year that the Sophomore Comet, later to become the Pioneer, was first published. In 1924 the now-famous G o o d Will Awards were established. Formed originally to recognize the virtues o f friendliness and helpfulness among members of the student body, this recognition remains one of the most coveted honors to be achieved by any Maine Township student. As the student body grew, larger facilities were urgently needed. And in 1930 the high school building on Thacker Street, became the Des Plaines Junior High School. In March of 1930, the high school moved to the new building on the Dempster-Potter site. The enrollment continued to expand and the curriculum to be augmented, so that in 1936 an additional wing was needed to provide additional facilities. Following World War II, the fantastic population growth o f the Park Ridge-Des Plaines area created a surging wave of high school age students. And in 1954 a new $3,000,000 addition was completed. It added to Maine a much-needed auditorium and field house type gymnasium, as well as additional classrooms which almost doubled student capacity. Today, as we prepare to enter the Golden Sixties, a decade destined to be rich in scientific, academic, and cultural achievement, we can be proud of Maine Township's record—a record reflected by a constant flow of good citizens; outstanding academic standards; and men and women who have contributed much to Maine Township, Illinois, and the nation as a whole. The pages that follow describe a new milestone in the over half a century old history of Maine Township . . . Maine West. M A I N E T O W N S H I P H I G H S C H O O L D I S T R I C T N O . 207 Maine Township High School West Feeder S c h o o l s W i t h i n the District 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Algonquin Thacker Pennoyer St. Mary's St. Eugene's St. Stephen's Maryville Academy Immanuel Lutheran Maine Township High School Feeder S c h o o l s W i t h i n the District 1. Lincoln 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. East Maine Glenview St. Paul of the Cross Park Ridge Military School Park Ridge School for Girls St. Andrew's Lutheran Ralph Waldo Emerson The D r e a m . . . The P r o m i s e . . .The P l a n . . followed by Action and Accomplishment! Phenomenal population growth was the root cause of the dream that made today's Maine West necessary. The township itself is a suburban district located 18 miles northwest of the Chicago Loop area. It consists of approximately 32 square miles and serves students from Park Ridge; Des Plaines; part of Glenview, Niles, Morton Grove, and Harwood Heights; plus a large unincorporated area in the township. In 1950 the population of the district was nearly 40,000; and the Maine Township High School had an enrollment of some 1,850 students. Today the population is closer to 100,000 and the high school enrollment is already the Southwest side of Des Plaines. Their plan: a school to serve students from the area west o f the Des Plaines River. The property consisted of two truck farms located alongside of each other. It was here on the old Schroeder and Struck Farms that the Board of Education decided to erect the new and ultra-modern school. Unlike the homey little red schoolhouse with a pot-bellied stove for heat, today's high schools for communities like Maine Township must serve the growing and constant needs of over 3,000 active students. The principle of many smaller schools, popular in our father's time, is no longer economically feasible. Original building costs; maintenance; transportation; staffing; all are factors that mediate against several smaller high schools and for large and centralized high schools. In addition, planning of the new high school involved obligations to the community of greater scope than academic interests alone. A broadly planned physical education program called for extensive gymnasium space. Meetings, dramatics, dances, and athletic events called for a truly large auditorium with a full scale stage, with accessories. A large swimming pool was planned so that it would be made available to the community for summer recreational programs, as well as the comprehensive swimming program for the students of the high school. Fittingly enough—in an age in which words like orbit are commonplace—Maine Township High School West was being planned when the first successful sputnik soared into space. And like a satellite, from its central core area projects spokes. Thus, the Core Plans Concept calls for a central headquarters building, housing the elements common to the high school, plus three spokes projecting from the hub. Each of the spokes is a separately contained high school . . . each with its own academic head . . . its own gymnasium . . . and provision made for still a fourth unit for the generation to come. Yet the hub contains all central elements common to the school as a whole, making Maine West an outstanding example of the use of expert scholastic planning to obtain the greatest amount of educational and academic value from a building— for the lowest possible taxpayer's investment commensurate with quality. 5,600. A University of Chicago survey committee forecasts that by 1965, there will be some 9,000 high school students in the Maine Township. By 1957, after several years of planning, the farsighted trustees of the Maine Township School District sought to acquire 73 acres of land on ADMINISTRATION PACE OF MODERN GEARED TO THE EDUCATION Sentimentalists remember the row by row school—often eight grades in a single room—with warm affection. That it had advantages, there can be no doubt, but in a world preoccupied with technology, teaching has been forced to become more specialized. Ideally, outstanding 20th Century education must combine the warmth of the teacher with the discipline of the student's mind. And good teaching practice calls for the fullest measure of academic nourishment for the pupil, coupled with the strongest possible utilization of teacher's time and vocational talents. To assure this ideal combination, at Maine West, a single principal oversees the whole. Each wing has its own Assistant Principal, responsible for that school within the school. He serves also as a Departmental Chairman, and actually teaches classes. Within the wings, individual teaching staffs work with pupils throughout their four years at Maine West... assuring continuity of effort and a close teacher/student relationship. Texts, subjects, and courses of study are standardized for all three wings. In a school the size of Maine West, machine record keeping is essential for speed, accuracy, and economical efficiency. For these reasons attendance, grades, and personnel data are centralized in a single data source, where modern recording equipment and methods can be utilized best. And the Central Core Concept comes to the fore again, as evidenced by a staff group of guiding and testing specialists who serve all three schools within the whole. The entire principle of "little within big" provides for fluidity, yet provides extra educational power. For well-organized utilization of teaching staff means extra operating efficiency... fewer but better teachers. This in turn, assures a teaching staff of highest possible qualifications, capable of maintaining highest possible scholastic and leadership standards. Careful planning and selective teacher recruiting has given this new school firm faculty strength. Thoughtful administration practices are geared to creating warm and friendly student/teacher relationships—coupled with outstanding scholastic standards—the ideal in secondary school education. Architectural A d v a n c e s . . . Unique Construction Techniques .. O u t s t a n d i n g P l a n n i n g . . . c o m b i n e t o c r e a t e a n e w a n d highlypractical Educational Plant for M a i n e T o w n s h i p W e s t The functional, symmetrical design of Maine Township West is crisp and clean, typical of 20th Century American simplicity. A dominant feature of the exterior design is the central core, roofed with a dome framed of curved structural steel ribs. This provides a practical, economical clear circular area 120 feet in diameter, unobstructed and free of interior columns. The three academic wings radiate from the center core and are formed of reinforced concrete—columns, beams, floors, and roofs. Among the major advantages inherent in this wellconceived core plan is the conservation of student travel time. The average distance walked will be about 1/3 o f that required for a 3,000 student high school built and operated in the traditional manner. Childs & Smith, Architects-Engineers, of Chicago, specialists in the creation of schools, planned a building ideal in all respects for modern secondary education. The building is so designed that there can be no traffic jams, even in peak traffic situations. The central core concept, engineering-wise, results in great economies. For example, evening schools and summer schools may be centered in only one or two of the two story academic wings. Areas not in use can be closed off, since each wing has its own facilities and its own access to the central core. This means sizable economies in janitorial services, heat and electrical consumption, administration, and personnel salaries. Savings result from the central location of the boiler plant. Initial economies are effected in the sizing of mains and secondary lines, and in the simplification of equipment such as pumps, traps, and temperature controls. Similar economies come through the electrical system. Central transformers and distribution switchboards reduce the length of runs necessary to service lighting, alarm, and communication systems. Construction of the entire 3,000 student capacity plant, with provision for the ultimate enrollment of 4,000 students, was effected for a square foot cost of $16.27 . . . cubic foot cost is $1.11. Authorities in the field consider this a reasonable expenditure for such comprehensive facilities as these. Maine West is a reflection of sound school board planning, coupled with top professional supervision; the result—a truly outstanding educational plant planned for the years ahead. TYPICAL FIRST FLOOR C L A S S R O O M W I N G This plan of a typical first floor classroom wing (radiating from the central core) shows how science and special subject classes are grouped. Note that the gymnasium is at the end of the wing with access to the outdoors, and locker rooms arranged nearby. Administrative and record offices along with nurses' facilities are grouped at the inner-end of the wing close to the core. TYPICAL SECOND FLOOR C L A S S R O O M W I N G Here academic classrooms (as apart from scientific study rooms and laboratories), homerooms, and art rooms are grouped. The great majority of the academic activity of the student will be lived within his own wing. In effect, each wing constitutes a school within a school . . . with the core area available for joint use and activities common to the entire student body. FIRST FLOOR PLAN First floor plan shows the central core and wings as a unit. The fourth wing, for future expansion, is shown in dotted line. The Central Core C o n c e p t . . . Some of the advantages of the central core concept in modern educational facilities have already been described. There can be no doubt that its physical aspects represent outstanding efficiency for the student, the faculty, the taxpayer, and the community. Heat, light, power and communications from a single source represent not only immediate economies in building and construction—but important continuing economies of maintenance. Obviously there are administrational advantages too. The concept of staff and line, a single central operating force unifying the entire school . . . with separate faculties each close to their own students . . . within the three schools . . . is ideal. And group facilities for these three schools within a school, under the central core concept, can be much bigger, much better. For example, the Harry D. Anderson Library, with a 15,000 open-stock book capacity; the outstanding, flexible, multipurpose auditorium with ultra-modern equipment; music and choral rooms; an extra-efficient cafeteria; all become practical with full utilization by a student force as large as Maine West is. It also includes a generous student social area. Provision has even been made for closed circuit television. But most important of all is the concept of "small within big." Instead of being lost in a gigantic 3,000 pupil school with an individual student just part of the mass . . . at Maine West students will become part of closely-knit operating teams. Within their own school they will soon know their fellow students warmly; associate with the same faculty members throughout their four years at Maine; utilize to the fullest the finest in modern education, and the best of supervised association with other human beings. MAIN ENTRANCE STAIRWAY LIBRARY AUDITORIUM AND MULTI-USE AREA SWIMMING POOL The Men and W o m e n W h o Give T h e E d u c a t i o n a l Spirit to M a i n e W e s t Centuries ago, a voice of wisdom said: "A load of books does not equal one good teacher". . . and surely, in reflection, all of us remember at least one friend, leader, educator who enriched and broadened our lives. Historically, Maine Township's heritage with teachers has been a glowing one. Starting with H. A. Ray, Miss A. Burgee, and W. L. Smyser, Principal; in the first Maine Township High School, thousands of Maine Township pupils remember with respect and affection the teachers who led them to realms of understanding far greater than they had ever had before. Ideally, we would like to present the pictures of every teacher who leads Maine West's pupils on to greater things. With a staff of 138 teachers, obviously space does not permit it. However we do show the Department Heads, who are responsible for able leadership down the path of learning for Maine West students. Many of the Maine West faculty have grown and matured in the Maine Township system. The year they joined follows their names. To these veterans and the fine new teachers who complete the staff— we look with confidence, sure that Maine West's student body is in competent hands for the future. O L I V E R W. B R O W N - 1 9 4 7 Assistant Principal and Chairman of the Business Education Dept. F R E D M. BENCRISCUTTO—1956 Dean, Freshman-Sophomore Boys M. C O R I N N E C L A R K 1 9 5 4 Head, Girls Physical Education JOHN 1. CLOUSER—1955 Director of Student Personnel and Dean of Students ROBERT E. COCHRANE—1946 Industrial Arts RALPH J . FROST, J R . - 1 9 3 9 Principal D A N I E L T. Language H0LBR00K-1954 BARBARA I. HULSE—1957 Dean of Freshman-Sophomore Girls VICTOR A. GIOVANNINI—1956 Driver Education ROBERTA H. I L I F F - 1 9 4 3 Dean ol Junior-Senior Girls LORAIN R. K A L B F E L L , MRS—1958 Head Nurse OTTO M. KOHLER—1953 Social Science F A N N I E KREVITSKY—1953 School Social Worker ROBERT 0, K U I T E - 1 9 5 0 Music W I L L I S E. LINDEMAN—1959 Head Librarian WILLIAM T. L U 0 0 L P H - 1 9 5 1 English RICHARD C. M E Y E R - 1 9 5 7 Art In these days when technocracy and scientific achievement threaten to rule the world; when knowledge of the humanities is often put aside for sheer technical skill; it reflects great credit on those o f the teaching profession, like ours of Maine West, that they maintain balance and stability; a healthy human, and patriotic outlook in our future citizens. And it reflects great credit on the faculty staff, in a school as large as Maine West, that they constantly maintain the personal touch . . . the relation of human being to human being . . . the relativity of student to teacher so necessary to a school which is morally and academically strong. It is to the faculty of Maine West that great credit must be given for maintaining the spirit—both academically and personally—that is so much a reflection of this outstanding school. For it lies within the grasp of the faculty member to create either a broader, richer, more enlightened student . . . or a scholar who simply repeats by rote what he has learned from books. H A Z E L H. NICHOLS, M R S . - 1 9 5 9 Cafeteria Manager K E N N E T H E. 0 L S 0 N - 1 9 4 2 Athletic Director and Head of Boys Physical Education HERMAN L. R I D E R - 1 9 4 6 Assistant Principal and Chairman of the Science Department W A Y N E I. ROSENQUIST—1950 Dean of Junior-Senior Boys HERMAN S E R 0 N E - 1 9 5 7 Head Custodian L U C I L L E E. S T I L E S , M R S . - 1 9 5 7 Home Economics ROBERT A. W E L L S — 1 9 4 2 Assistant Principal and Chairman of Math Department STUDENT L E O N A R D BENDING President, Sophomore Class LEADERS WEST AT MAINE ANDREA B O E H M E R Editor, The Westerner (Student Paper) KAREN BARRETT Student Council Chairman Organization Committee To paraphrase Horace Mann, noted educator; while leadership of any school must come from the faculty—the hard core, the fiber, the character, must come from the student body. T I M BYRAM Vice President, " M " Club It has long been traditional at Maine Township to lay responsibility for self-government upon the students themselves. For years the Student Council system has been in effect. And from the body of the students come the leaders, duly elected by democratic process, who help guide the student body in the years they are at Maine. For many of these student leaders, this is only the beginning of constructive leadership careers in government, business, the sciences, the armed forces. But to every Maine Township student, whether elected to office or not, student leadership and the principles it represents, demonstrate the principles of democracy in action under their very eyes—preparing them for the important role they will play as citizens in later years. BARBARA CLARK Social Committee Chairman Student Council J I L L DOWEY Secretary, Girls' Athletic Association MIKE C A L L A G H A N President, Junior Class SUE E A G L E S O N Secretary, Girls' Club REV FOSS Secretary, Senior Class TOMI FRASIER Secretary, Sophomore Class In addition to Student Council activity, Maine West pupils participate in many other projects. The "Legend," school yearbook, is prepared by a student staff with faculty guidance. This is true too, of the "Westerner" . . . Maine West's outstanding school newspaper. And recently, the call letters WMTH were granted to the student-operated F M radio station. In group efforts like these, not few but many students learn new skills and enjoy the experience of team participation so important to their later lives. DICK G E I S L E R Vice President, Junior Class B I L L HENNING Secretary, " M " Club DOTTIE HANSEN Student Council Director ol the Variety Show NEVA HUXMANN Treasurer, Senior Class J A N E JACOBS Vice President, Sophomore Class J A N E LEWIS Secretary, Student Council TRUDY JOHNSON Treasurer, Student Council L Y N N LEWIS Girls' Club President TRUDY M c N E A L President, Girls' Athletic Association RONALD MARTIN Vice President, Senior Class BONNIE P A H L M A N Vice President Girls' Athletic Association CAROL PETERSON Editor, The Legend (Student Yearbook) NANCY PROCHASKA Vice President, Girls' Club C H A R L E S REID Vice President, Boys' Club JANICE REID Treasurer, Girls' Club DICK SASS Treasurer, " M " Club G R E T C H E N RIDER Treasurer, Sophomore Class A L L E N SHAYNE Service Corps Chairman Student Council B I L L SPYRISON President, " M " Club ED SWANSON Student Council Sportsmanship Committee'Chairman DAVID S T E N M A R K President, Senior Class DOUG WRIGHT President, Student Council L Y N N TURNER Secretary, Junior Class The Maine Township High School Boards Unsung heroes of any educational system are the members of the school board . . . too often remembered only for unpopular decisions, seldom praised for their sagacious actions. For over 50 years Maine Township citizens, elected to their important offices by fellow citizens, have guided, led, and planned the educational system of the community. Space does not permit listing the name of each member of every school board since the first in 1901. Yet one description fits them all. Inherently, they are people of principle; men and women willing to devote time, thought, and effort generously. They are people of character and responsibility who unselfishly serve without reimbursement. Schooling is expensive, and it is paid for by taxation. The continuing link between the voters and taxpayers and their school system is the school board. And so Maine Township's school boards over the years are more than an honor to those who serve; they are, in addition, a tribute to the sagacity and judgment of the voters who elected them. Those who serve with such organizations as the Maine West Parent Teacher Council, and the other fine parent organizations, know from experience that duty counts above all with Maine Township school boards. To thefore-sightedwisdom of school boards, past and present, today's Maine Township students owe much; for to the board's longrange recognition of the dramatic growth of the community can be traced this superb new core concept high school. And since the wisest investment that can be made in a child is his education . . . it would seem that Maine Township's school boards over the years have invested well. SCHOOL Dan H. Jacobsen Arthur E. Schroeder W. Bert Ball H. G . Doemland BOARD A n n e Z. Kuehl Leonard W. Swanson Philip A . Paulson, Pres. Martha Zitzewitz, Secy. A r o u n d table f r o m left: A The Future . .. A l r e a d y Planned For Salute In 1955 the census showed a United States population of 165,000,000 plus. As Maine Township West opens, our national population is 176,000,000 plus. By the end of 1960 estimates call for 180,000,000 people. In 1965 estimated population is 193,000,000 and by 1970—210,000,000! Couple this, in turn, with the change in educational habits. Today, in communities like Maine Township, the overwhelming majority of boys and girls finish high school, and more than half go on to college. A few short generations ago this was not the rule. And so we see a pressing need for the kind of planning which has already taken place at Maine Township. Today, facilities for 3,000—tomorrow, 4,000. In all probability the immediacy of this addition will be delayed; for while we talk in millions of people, naturally Maine Township will grow in proportion to its own population and real estate potential. Yet it is gratifying to be sure that planning has been sound; for as the area grows . . . as communities develop and expand . . . as younger families produce children who will eventually reach high school age . . . a soundly-planned, community-integrated high school is ready to meet their educational needs, and the educational needs of the children to follow. And Maine West is planned as a "comprehensive" high school. . . equipped to graduate vocationally-trained students, ready to enter the working world; or academically-prepared pupils, ready for college entrance. . . . to the specialists and fabricators whose skillful and conscientious efforts helped make Maine West a reality and whose generous support helped make this brochure possible. Childs & Smith Architects & Engineers — Engineers Atkinson — Fitzgerald Landscape Architects General Contractor Fred Berglund & S o n , Inc. Allen Tiling Company Ceramic Tile Brown and Kerr, Inc. Roofing & Sheet Metal D.& D. Contractors, Inc. Site Development R. W. Dunteman Company Excavating George D. Hardin, Inc. Plumbing The Robert Irsay Company Ventilating J. Livingston & Company Electrical McNulty Brothers Company Lath & Plastering South Shore Iron Works Ornamental Iron Vierling Steel Works Structural Steel O. A . Wendt Company Heating

Nation's School's Volume 66 No 4 October 1960 - Maine West High School

CAFETERIA is hub of traffic flow in this Midwest high school (page 9 4 ) . OCTOBER Supervision and the Improvement of Instruction Beginning a New Series of Superintendents Round-Table Discussions Some Long-Range Questions About N.D.E.A. Bible Reading in Classrooms — A National Issue The Facts About Citizens Committees C O M P L E T E C O N T E N T S O N PAGES 3 and 4 THE Nation's Schools THE MAGAZINE OF BETTER SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION SCHOOLHOUSE PLANNING/SCHOOL LUNCH Cafeteria students, who bring their lunch, file BOTH physically andpsychologically,the round, glass-walled through the regular cafeteria lines cafeteria (illustrated on this month's for milk, malted milks, and desserts. cover) of Maine Township High No student is permitted to leave the School West, Des Plaines, III., forms campus during the school day. the center of nonacademic activities. Students enter the cafeteria through It is located on the first floor of the the seven glass doors of the conhub from which three two-story academic wings and two intermediate tinuous glass wall. They file past one wings protrude. The spacious and of the two double serving lines — one colorful room is a pleasant place to on each side of the cafeteria and dine for the 2450 students. It is also located to the rear of the room — and the natural social center of the school. select any table they wish. After finishing their meals, the students return the soiled dishes to the central Minimum Traffic. One outstanding dish counter, possibly stop by one of feature of the design of Maine Town- the four drinking fountains in the ship West is the economy of move- center of the rotunda, and exit ment. About 800 students spend at through the door of their choice. least three-fourths of the school day in Despite the freedom allowed each of the three academic wings. students in entering and leaving the Since the central services — adminis- cafeteria, there is no traffic confusion trative suite, library, auditorium, caf- or congestion. While the dining caeteria — are housed in the central pacity is 900, there are now tables core, student traffic is about one-third and chairs for only 650. Thus the that ordinarily found in a high school maximum number of students leaving of this size. at any one time through any one of The distance from any one of the the seven doors is an average of wings to the cafeteria is relatively less than 75; at other times there are short. Handwashing facilities are pro- as few as 50. Orderly exit time, vided in the corridor of each wing. clocked by teacher supervisors, has Students can leave their books and been as low as 40 seconds. personal items in their wing lockers, Cafeteria service is provided by a so no storage space for these is professionally trained manager, a needed in the cafeteria area. Wing chef, 20 full-time workers, and sevpassageways merge into the wider, eral student helpers. circular corridor space which completely circumscribes the glass-enSocial Center. In addition to lunch cased rotunda. period use, the cafeteria also has other Across this corridor on one side functions: 1. It is a study and visiting center' is a social area which in turn opens onto an open terrace. This serves as for students who arrive by bus, prior an outdoor extension of the cafeteria. to the first class meeting. 2. It is an overflow study hall durService Schedule. The lunch period ing certain periods of the day when extends from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. the three regular study halls are filled. 3. It can be used for group testing. Service is in six shifts; about 350 to 4. It is a community meeting 500 students are excused at intervals for each shift. Some 1350 students center. (about 55 per cent) utilize the full cafDuring after-school hours of the eteria service. Since no separate snack 1959-60 school year, the cafeteria bar is provided, the remaining 1100 served more than 20,000 persons, or Is 'Hub' of School's Traffic Flow 94 CAFETERIA at Maine Township High School West, Des Plaines, III., is center of activities, center of building. Cafeteria is used for lunch, study hall, central staging area for buses. FIRST FLOOR - CENTRAL CORE CIRCLING a bright red pillar in center of cafeteria are drinking fountains and enclosed storage cabinets. Notice how students enter serving line through glass doors (back center) from a surrounding corridor. AUDITORIUM (upper left) is on second floor of central core, above cafeteria. Floor space in front can be used for dances, exhibitions, and placing of opera-type chairs. The latter are stored under stage when not in use. . . . FLOATING STAIRCASE (lower left), at main entrance (extreme left) to central core, leads to cafeteria on first floor and auditorium on second floor. All photos from Francis G . Owen Studio, Chicago about one-fourth of the 83,400 who also used the school's auditorium (above the cafeteria) and other facilities. The 83,400 persons attended school club meetings, a variety show, pancake day, gatherings of boy and girl scouts and other community and civic organizations, all-school dances and other all-school social affairs. Food service on these occasions generally is provided by the school's own staff, although at larger gatherings catering service is arranged, aided by several school lunch department employes. Cafeteria Design. Topping the vast lunchroom is the reinforced concrete ceiling. Exposed concrete beams radiate in all directions from a massive central pillar to provide a clear area, 120 feet in diameter, unobstructed and free from interior columns. Above the ceiling is the ventilation systemWithin various recessed portions of the ceiling are mounted clusters of light fixtures. An array of colors contributes to the cafeteria setting. Below the BUS CONCOURSE provides covered access for students into cafeteria, which serves as study and visiting center before first class. Food delivery is facilitated because bus concourse is adjacent to kitchen area. aluminum framed window walls, along most of the periphery, are finished enamel panels of bright red; the panels match the color of the massive pillar at the room's center. Circling the pillar are enclosed storage cabinets in contrasting light colored wood. Cabinet tops form a shelf for the four drinking fountains. Walls of the serving area are white glazed tile, the same as in the kitchen area. Floors throughout are resilient tile. Windows look out on the surrounding corridor. Kitchen Plan. Directly behind the service counters is the spacious, well lighted kitchen. The modern off-floor, away-from-the-wall equipment includes gas ovens and ranges; reach-in and walk-in refrigerators; counter, food preparation, and dishwashing equipment. Fire extinguishers are conveniently located on the kitchen walls. Raw food is received at the rear dock, placed on a large freight elevator, and taken down to the lower level for dry storage. Garbage is taken out through the back door and burned in an incinerator. All steam and hot and cold water lines, as well as electrical conduit, are under the cafeteria floor, which forms the roof of a large, undivided space below ground level. The latter also houses the electrical substations; central transformers; distribution switchboard; fan, locker and laundry rooms, and an indoor track and indoor game facilities. Faculty Room. Members of the administrative and teaching staff are served in an adjoining room, also glass walled, which has its separate serving counter. From here students in the general cafeteria area can be observed; however, several faculty members are assigned especially to supervision. Soiled dishes are returned by teachers to the central dish room. The only vending machines are in the honor study hall, operated by the student council. It is located near the cafeteria and is open to students with a grade average of C or better. Comprehensive School. Maine Township High School West is a fouryear comprehensive school. It prepares students for both terminal employment and college; about 60 per cent of its graduates enter college. It is the second school of the 32 square mile Maine Township High School District No. 207. In addition to Des Plaines, the school serves the city of Park Ridge, parts of Glenview, Niles and Morton Grove, and a large unincorporated area. Earle W. Wiltse is district superintendent. Maine West was planned under the direction of the former superintendent, Harry D. Anderson, who retired in 1959. The school was designed by Childs & Smith, architectsengineers, Chicago. First classes met in September 1959. Ralph J. Frost Jr., Maine West's first principal, now is assistant superintendent. The new principal is Herman L. Rider, former assistant principal and chairman of the science department. Continuing as assistant principal is Robert A. Wells. Asst. Supt. Frost had these observations to make regarding Maine West's 1959-60 school year: "The consensus of staff and students at Maine West is that the first year of operation has been successful. Strong morale, brought about by an emphasis on a team approach to school problems, has made for an excellent esprit de corps. "The physical design of the building, too, has contributed to the development of a good rapport among faculty and students. The idea of 'schools within a school' has helped to foster a warm, friendly atmosphere often considered to be an outstanding characteristic of a small school; yet Maine West offers all the educational opportunities of the large, comprehensive high school. "The arrangement by which students spend the major portion of their day in the wing to which they have been assigned has helped to bring students into closer relationships with their instructors and has tended to develop an educational climate which encourages each student to do his best. With this decentralized approach, there is less likelihood that the individual will be lost in the crowd and a greater likelihood that he will find himself in a situation where he will be well known to both his instructors and classmates." • Vol. 66, No. 4, October I960 97

Mosaic - Maine West High School

Projects f o r S c h o o l s Each year nearly 300 schools throughout t h a t followed the curve of the auditorium enthe nation originate cooperative mosaic mural projects. AmongKorsin Crafts of Niles, Ohio suptrance wall. the many excellent ones are two recent examples of particular interest. plied the materials as well as technical guidThe first is an ambitious work by the Art III ance. class of the Maine West High School in Des plaines, Illinois, under the supervision of Richard Meyers (107) ; the second was supervised by Marie Hempy of the S t a r r King School for Exceptional Children in Sacramento, California (108). The Maine West mural is of particular importance because it exemplifies the immense impact mosaics have had on education, as well the community at large. In this new high school without any architectural a r t the students demonstrated t h a t creativity can once again become a traditional civic function. Fifteen plywood panels 18 inches by 4 feet were combined into a 22 1/2 foot long surface a S Mosaics: Principles and Practice. Joseph L.Young, 1963. Photo: Leslie Sybil Young

Building Maine West - Gallery at Maine West Alumni Association
First Year - Gallery at Maine West Alumni Association

Hail to thee, the blue, gold and white!
Warriors loyal, we'll cheer you ever onward!
Fight team! Win team! Victory proclaim!
Yea rah for Maine West High!

Chicago Tribune, September 6, 1959

1,750 will attend new school
Casimir Banas

Sketch by Childs and Smith, architects and engineers, Chicago, shows design of 6.8 million dollar Maine West High school in Des Plaines, which opens Tuesday. School has three academic wings, shop wing, and smaller fifth wing with swimming pool.

The new $6,800,000 Maine West High school, 1755 S. Wolf rd., Des Plaines, will open its doors Tuesday to 1,750 students. The school is not completed and construction crews will be at work for at least a month, according to schooh officials.
Maine West has 153 rooms. of these, 105 are classrooms and the remainder are offices, stage dressing rooms, locker rooms, and rooms for non-academic uses. The school will be staffed by 130 teachers and administrators of which 107 were transferred from Maine High school, Park Ridge. Student capacity is 2,400.

Three Classroom Wings
The school has three, two story classroom wings and one shop wing. "This unique design enables Maine West to have three schools within a school," said. Ralph J. Frost, principal.
Each student will be assigned to one wing, Frost explained. Each wing will be supervised by an assistant principal who also will serve as a department chairman, he added.
"Students will spend most of the school day in their assigned wing," Frost said. "For example, a pupil assigned to the B wing will have his homeroom, study hall, physical education, and several classes in this particular wing." Each wing has a 120 seat study hall and a gymnasium.

Share Some Facilities
All students will go to central areas for subjects such as art, industrial arts, and music. The entire school will share such facilities as the bookstore, cafeteria, library, and swimming pools.
School authorities believe the school program will be strengthened by the decentralizing procedure. "The internal organization of Maine West will foster the warm, friendly atmosphere of the small school, while at the same time will offer all the educational opportunities of the large high school," Frost said.
The individual student will not be lost in the crowd, but will find himself in a situation where he will be well known to both his instructors and classmates."

Has Indoor Track
The three wings converge on a circular portion of the building. On the main floor is a 906 seat cafeteria. On the
second floor is an auditorium 1,284 and a library that will house 5,400 books. In the basement of the circular section is a clay track with 14 laps to the mile and a 50 yard straightaway.

A swimming pool adjoins the circular part of the building, forming a short fifth wing.

Parking facilities for 700 automobiles surround the school. A bus concourse with a sheltered roof protecting students from rain or snow, enables 10 buses to load simultaneously. Approximately 75 per cent of Maine West students will travel to school by bus, Frost estimated.

Receives Maine Burden
Maine West High school is in school district 207, which includes Des Plaines, Park Ridge, and unincorporated areas of Maine township. Until this year Maine High school served the entire district.
The new school relieves the burden on Maine High school, which last year had an enrollment of more than 5,000. It had been running on a double shift schedule but will be back to normal this year.
All Des Plaines students will attend Maine West, and all Park Ridge students will go to Maine, explained Dr. Earle Wiltse, district superintendent. The border line for students living in unincorporated areas will be the Des Plaines river, he added.

Added Cost is 13.82
Estimated added cost to the taxpayer for the new high school will be 13.82 cents per $100 assessed valuation, according to school officials, The school, district 207 levy on 1958 properly taxes was $1,328 per $100 assessed valuation.
Bonds for building the school will be retired by 1977, Dr. Wiltse said.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Des Plaines Historic Methodist Campground Fair, 2009

As seen on the Des Plaines History Center blog. Cool!

via Des Plaines History Center by sgolland on 9/4/09

Thanks to Linda Ozag for sharing her video with us.

To find out more about the Historic Methodist Campground in Des Plaines, visit their website

Things you can do from here:

Des Plaines Publishing Company Building

Des Plaines Publishing Company Building
What a cool sign!

The Des Plaines Journal reported Wednesday that demolition was underway at the old Des Plaines Publishing Company building, vacant only a little more than a year. You might not recognize this building - it was at 1000 Executive Way, directly behind the Post Office and Grazie! on Oakton. This building was by no means a landmark or anything really worth saving, but it was a more or less handsome building. I stopped by to take some pictures a couple of months ago; I also have some pictures pulled from Des Plaines Publishing's old website.

Des Plaines Publishing Company Building
Des Plaines Publishing Company Building
Des Plaines Publishing Company Building
Des Plaines Publishing Company Building

The Des Plaines Publishing Company traced its roots back to the start of the Des Plaines Suburban Times (or, rather, its predecessor) in 1885. In 1967 it moved to Executive Way from Pearson Street, next to the phone company building. The building's architect was Ervin F. Baur. In 1977 it was purchased by James Linen IV. In 1994, the eight newspapers it ran, The Des Plaines Times, the Mount Prospect Times, the Rosemont Times, the Elk Grove Times, the Edison-Norwood Times Review, Park Ridge Times-Herald and the Niles Times-Herald were sold to Pioneer Press, and Des Plaines Publishing continued as a printing company. On April 30, 2007, the company's printing assets (not the building) were purchased and renamed Des Plaines Printing. Just under a year later, on April 7, 2008, it was announced that the company would be rebranded with its corporate parent, move to its parent's facilities in Buffalo Grove, and, inexplicably, take the name John S. Smith of Des Plaines (even though it was in Buffalo Grove?). It looks like, in the year since, they've stopped using the "of Des Plaines". To me it seems a little odd to tear down a building that has only been vacant a year, but it didn't really have location going for it.

See also: School of the Art Institute of Chicago Recent Past Survey

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

What's next for the Des Plaines State Bank Building?

On August 14, Crain's Chicago Business reported that First Banks intends to exit the Chicago market, presumably by selling its branches to another bank. A couple of years ago, First Bank closed its branch at 1401 Lee, near Aldi. They also have an auto bank at 518 Lee, and their main branch is at Lee & Ellinwood, 678 Lee. Given the saturation of banks in Des Plaines, and their desire for drive-through banking, I have to wonder if the next bank will continue to operate the large building with no drive-throughs and enough offices for a headquarters, but probably too many for a branch. Too bad this didn't happen before Kinder Hardware was torn down for the short-lived Des Plaines National Bank (before Midwest Bank absorbed it). Maybe we will see something else go in this building, like what has happened in many of the similarly-sized neighborhood banks in Chicago. The State Bank building is easily one of the most beautiful buildings in the city, and for now has the most beautiful interior downtown.The site had previously been land owned by pioneer settler Simeon Lee, the namesake of Lee Street. It once held Des Plaines' first post office - coincidentally, the downtown branch office is now right next door - and then the Scharringhausen family home. The site also contained Des Plaines Lumber and Coal until they moved to the outskirts of the city, Lee Street at the Soo Line tracks, where they built their silos.

The Des Plaines State Bank, founded in 1905, was Des Plaines' oldest financial institution (the Bank of Des Plaines was founded in 1897 but did not survive), and was then located in a distinctive Arts and Crafts style building on Ellinwood Street, built in 1915, which also replaced a later post office. Curiously, after this building was converted into a grocery store when the bank left, it was remodeled to give it a greek revival look. It looked more like a bank after it no longer was one.
In 1926, Des Plaines was rapidly expanding; the highway system had brought in a lot of new people. New buildings like the Des Plaines Theatre, Masonic Temple, and First Congregational Church were going up or planned, and new subdivisions were filling out. So it was time for a new home for the Des Plaines State Bank.

They chose the architectural firm of Wolf, Sexton, Harper, and Treaux to design their new building. The firm is now best known for Saint Charles' landmark Hotel Baker. Wolf, Sexton, Harper and Treaux chose an unusual, but attractive look for the building. It is classical in massing and material, with the standard temple look of a bank, but with Spanish detailing. After all, Greek temples don't have arches; that's a Roman invention. The Spanish comes through in the details, where you see the arches flanked by slender, twisting columns. Then there are the Beaux Arts swags and cornice, and some Art Deco inspired details; in all, the building's architecture fits in perfectly with the Theatre and Temple.

Des Plaines State Bank Bankers Magazine Dec 1927a

When announced in the Chicago Tribune, the building was to be faced in standard Bedford Stone, a common type of limestone found throughout Chicago. Somewhere along the line, this was upgraded to Georgia Marble, a much more impressive and unusual stone more commonly used on monuments like the Lincoln Memorial. The main banking room had a buff colored terrazzo floor, sixteen bankers' cages flanking a 68'x27' lobby, and a coffered plaster ceiling. The large safe with a sixteen inch thick door at the center was by York Safe & Lock Co. of York, PA. The second floor contained eighteen offices with reception rooms; altogether, the building was projected to cost $250,000.

Des Plaines State Bank Bankers Magazine Dec 1927b

It opened June 11, 1927, but the Des Plaines State Bank didn't last too much longer. The depression hit on Black Thursday, October 24, 1929; on June 13, 1931, the bank failed and closed its doors for good. As a result of the depression, Des Plaines was able to build a new City Hall, Police/Fire Station, and Library, on the site of the old Des Plaines library at Miner and Graceland, where the police department parking lot is now. Of course, this necessitated a temporary home for the library, and what better place than the still-unoccupied State Bank building? The library was located there from 1936 until the new building opened July 30, 1937.

In July, 1937 the bank building was purchased by people who had been depositors in the State Bank; they proposed to rent the main floor out. Instead, First National Bank, located in the old bank building on Miner and the adjacent Gillespie Printery since 1913, opened its doors there October 1, 1937.

Ellinwood & Lee, Des Plaines State Bank Building and Lee Street
First National Bank
1949 Ellinwood & Lee West

It appears that few changes were made, aside from covering up the old State Bank signage with a neon sign and black background; the mast atop the building was also gone by this time. First National remained there for twenty years, until they moved to new, larger facilities at the southeast corner of Lee and Prairie on November 9, 1957.

As First National moved, the Des Plaines National Bank was already waiting in the wings. The rapidly growing city could use another bank, so they seized the opportunity; having organized the previous year, the new bank opened only 5 days after First National. As they moved in, they planned to change the building with complete air conditioning, additional parking, redecorating and remodeling, drive-in banking, and 5,000 safe deposit boxes; it's unclear how many of these were accomplished how quickly, or where they planned on adding drive-in banking. In 1960 they added a parking lot in former park land along the Chicago & Northwestern tracks.

They definitely did add big, obtrusive red neon signs around the building, and embarked on a $150,000 'modernization' program in July, 1961. The architects responsible - and I use that word deliberately - were the local firm of Holmes & Fox, who later designed the Des Plaines Civic Center. All windows were replaced with non-openable ones with white muntins. The original doorway, topped with a decorative metalwork cartouche and spanish detail, was replaced by a plain glass door. The fine ironwork lamps on either side of the lobby were removed. A walk in lobby teller window was added for longer hours than the main lobby. The marble and iron banker's cages were replaced by unbarred counters of rosewood plastic laminate. The lanterns were removed and the coffered ceiling was covered by a lowered drop ceiling with acoustical tile, fluorescent lighting, air ducts, and a sound system. I'm really glad I've never seen a picture of the interior from this era.

This is the detail that is now lost. It is possible that this is still there, encased in the newer structure.

In the late 1960s, Des Plaines National was looking to leave the building for larger quarters. When they hired Holmes & Fox to design their new auto bank branch at Lee & Perry, it was built with foundations so a multi-story headquarters could be built atop it without effecting operations. Obviously, this never occurred.

To make matters worse, in 1971 the bank added their "heart line" message center, an electronic ticker showing the time, temperature and messages. As you can see, this was incredibly ugly and obtrusive.

In 1974 the bank again hired Holmes & Fox for further remodeling, when railings and platforms in the interior were removed to make staff more accessible, and more safety deposit boxes were added.

By 1984, all that work was not aging well, and planning began for a restoration, of sorts, by Harris, Kwasek & Associates. On the outside, all the signage was removed, the opaque glass above the dropped ceiling was changed to clear, and the muntins were changed to black. The front windows were changed to match the rest of the windows. The marble was also cleaned.

On the interior, the lobby was essentially gutted except for the coffered ceiling. The most drastic change was that the windows on the south wall were bricked in and a mezzanine balcony was added for the entire length of the banking hall. Detailing was added such as a sculpted balcony face, brass railings and balustrades, and planters. Overall, the effect is very sympathetic to the original interior, but really, the only parts of the original left are the ceiling and the safe. Even the applied moldings on the walls are gone.

In 1988 the bank's name was changed to Plainsbank of Illinois as an Elk Grove branch was added, and in 2001, it was sold to First Banks, which added much smaller signage to the building and later added a walk-up ATM.