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More Fairbury School History

 

Some Fairbury school history from Lucille Goodrich's Livingston County Scrapbook.......

Fairbury

When the Isaac Walton School was built in 1895, it also served as Fairbury High School. When the building was sold in 1965, the old bell was sold separately. The 1,200 pound bell on which was inscribed "Buckeye Bell Foundry 1912," was dropped onto huge truck tires placed on the ground to catch it. The space on which the school stood is now a parking lot for the Methodist Church.

In May, 1914, at a special election, a small majority of 685 to 527 voted for a new Fairbury High School and a $60,000 bond issue. Com-mencement exercises that year were held at the Central Opera House. For the first time in the history of the school, the graduates (22 of them) wore caps and gowns.

Fairbury has since voted a $350,000 expansion program for its high school building in 1949, a new gymnasium in 1951 ($250,000), and several other bond issues which included all of the schools.

In 1949, Fairbury-Cropsey became a community unit district. In 1950, the seventh and eighth grades moved into the old high school build-ing where they could use shop equipment, the home economics facilities, and the gymnasium. The home economics department moved to the basement, and the old gym was used for a music room. Food was prepared in a central kitchen and distributed to the other buildings in Fairbury in thermos-style cans.

The new gymnasium was ready in February, 1951, and the regional tournament held in it on February 26-March 2. The building seats 2,400 people and the boast is that there is not a single post or pillar to block the vision.

It was necessary in 1954-55 to rent space in the Methodist and Presbyterian Churches to house the overflow first grade classes. Voters turned down approval of a building program for the erecting of six class-rooms 243-198. As a crisis measure, the board set up a Pay-As-You-Go Building project of $135,000. In February, 1957, the sixth and seventh graders moved into the new $180,000 building, just north of the gymnasium, called Lincoln School.

In 1955, Mrs. Alma Lewis-James sold the Fairbury School ten acres of land which was granted to Mrs. Lewis-James's great grandfather, Dr. Lorenzo Beach on October 9, 1854, for his services as an army physician in the Seminole Indian War in Florida. Mrs. Ella Lewis-James, his grand-daughter, donated most of the original high school site in 1913. Mrs. Lewis-James, the fourth owner of the original tract, donated another tract to the school in 1948 for part of the athletic field.

Outstanding features of the new Lincoln School were the shelter at the service entrance and foot warmers just inside the door, the nine skylights above the 166-foot corridor, the Dutch door on the lobby side of the general office for selling tickets, the diffused lighting and the two deep planters in the lobby, the varied colors used in the classrooms, and the all-purpose room which served as lunch room, library, and audi-torium.

On December 6, 1961, a $1,387,800 bond issue for building a new 23- room elementary school, adding on to the Cropsey School, and remodeling the high school was defeated 3 to 1. Edison School had been built in 1880, Isaac Walton in 1895.

In 1962, two new rooms were added to Lincoln School out of current funds. The 6th, 7th, and 8th grades were now housed at Lincoln School. 
A $706,000 bond issue to construct an addition to Lincoln School, add to the vocational shop and make repairs in the high school building was rejected 619-380.

At a third election on February 9, 1963, voters approved 528-375 a $400,000 bond issue for a new elementary school of 12-15 rooms to replace Edison School.

The Fairbury Board purchased 13 acres of the Dally property in southwest Fairbury as a site for the new Westview School, located just west of the fairgrounds. Cost of the land was $22,950 or $1,700 an acre.

The L-shaped building housed 8 primary classrooms with their own playground to the north in the East Wing, and 6 classrooms with their athletic field in the South Wing.

Dr. John O'Neill, Assistant Superintendent in the office of Public Instruction, was guest speaker at the dedication on November 8, 1964. Of special interest at the Dedication Ceremonies was an exhibit of School Antiques. There was a teacher's pointer from the 1800's, a school bell and a copy of the Hans Christian Anderson Library of 1878, copy of an original unabridged Webster Dictionary, classroom and playground hand-bells, a copy of the 1913 eighth grade examination for Livingston County, a lunch pail carried to school in 1924, a pair of high button shoes, R. Caldecott's Picture Book 1818-1885, a quill and inkwell, a hornbook, a copy of an 1890 History of the United States, several ancient school books, school desks of other ages, and dresses worn by teachers of other days.

Over 2,000 pounds of blue-green carpeting (363 yards) had to be hauled into the library at Fairbury-Cropsey when the high school library was remodelled in 1965. Eighty pounds of 8 penny nails were also driven into the floor to stop the squeaking noises that had plagued both students and teachers in past years.

Clarence Herbst of Pontiac purchased the old Edison School building on August 7, 1965, for $28,500. Later the building was demolished and one of the Weber Apartments built on the site on 4th Street.

On December 9, 1969, Fairbury-Cropsey voters went to the polls to decide a $985,000 bond proposal for adding 13 rooms to Westview Elementary School, converting the old high school gymnasium into four classrooms, and building an addition connecting the high school and Lincoln Junior High School and serving as a joint facility for both. Again, the bond issue was defeated 302 yes to 382 no. In 1971, voters approved a bond issue of $1,007,000 by 16 votes (659-643) to do the above.

The price paid for one of the old buildings in 1972 was among the highest in the county. Four or five years previously the old Cropsey grade school building had been auctioned off for $3,500 before an andience of four people, three of them from Cropsey. Six years before the Edison School had sold for $28,500.

In 1972, the Methodist Church paid $40,000 for the Isaac Walton School for a parking lot site, 2 2/3 more than what it had cost 77 years before.

In 1972 Fairbury-Cropsey viewed the Westview addition which includes a 36' x 76' instructional materials center, eight academic classrooms, an art room, storage, rest room facilities and an air-conditioned music room used in the summer band program.

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