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Building Built and Closed in Controversy and Turmoil -- ARLINGTON HIGH SCHOOL

In 1922 the Board of Education adopted it first plans for Arlington High School after a tumultuous start* of High School District 214 in 1914. The architect was J.N. Coleman of Chicago, who died two months after signing the contract with the Board. Construction was completed in 1923 at a cost just above $100,000. The new Township High School Building was placed 200 feet back from Euclid Avenue, with its main entrance facing Euclid. The building was designed for a capacity enrollment of 250 students. A gymnasium, study hall, stage, laboratories and 21 classrooms were all included. District student enrollment was 101.

In 1928 the first addition was erected, which is now the east central area of the present building. Cost $125,000. District student enrollment was 251.

In 1939 addition PWA Project 2000T. Public Works Administration**
(a P.W.A. project during the Great Depression). The wing is hard to recognize in the current building. One wing on Ridge Avenue and one on Walnut Avenue are each now located in the middle of the building (Grace Gym and shops to the north; and the library, Bristol Theater, and Circle Drive wings to the south). The library and Circle Drive expansion to the south of the wings change the look of the doorway entrance. District student enrollment was 517.

In 1946 the shop wing in the northeast area of the building was added at a cost of $260,000. Also, lights were added to the football field in 1946. District student enrollment was 669.

In 1949 construction was approved for a boy's gymnasium, homemaking rooms, choral and band rooms, and a cafeteria (the current Grace Gym area). The addition was completed and the new gym was dedicated on May 18, 1952. District student enrollment was 1,169.

In 1955 voters approved bond issue of $1,250,00 for a major addition and renovation. A large portion of the original structure was torn down because of bad mortar. Much of what was left standing was surrounded by the new addition, which included a new band room, the sunken gym, the library, what became the girl's gym, and the two wings which project toward the Circle Drive. Open House and dedication for the new addition was on November 10-11, 1956. The official name changed from Arlington Heights Township High School to Arlington High School in 1956. District student enrollment was 2,235.

Circa 1961 the Cardinal Seal was installed in the floor of the Grace Gym Foyer.


In the late 1960's the Fighting Cardinal (above) was painted left of the main stage in the main gym.

In 1967 the main gym was renamed "Grace Gymnasium" dedicated in honor of Athletic Director "Pappy" Grace. District student enrollment was over 10,000 students with the opening of Prospect (1957), Forest View (1962), Wheeling (1964) and Elk Grove (1966).

In the late 1970's, the Dragon was painted outside the original gym, which was known as the Dragon Gym as well as the Girl's Gym. District student enrollment was over 19,000 with the opening of Hersey (1968), Rolling Meadows (1971) and Buffalo Grove (1973).

In 1975 District 214's student enrollment peaked at 19,823 students for the 1975-76 school year.

In 1980 Arlington High School underwent an entire renovation, including new light fixtures, safety accommodations, re-painting, and new carpeting in hallways and offices.

In 1981 the District 214 board announced that two high schools would close by the 1985-86 school year. Red ribbons were tied around trees to symbolize support for Arlington High School.

In 1982 District 214 voted (5-2) to close Arlington High School (May 17, 1982). A group of Arlington High School parents formed the Assembly of Citizens and Taxpayers (ACT) to study the possibility of seceding from District 214 and forming their own district (August, 1982).

A lawsuit was filed by five Arlington Heights residents and the Assembly of Citizens and Taxpayers against District 214, charging the board ignored facts from its own studies (November 18, 1982).

In 1983 District 214 planner Howard Feddema testified that board member Donald Hoeck called him to ask that a computer study's data be manipulated to have Arlington High School move to the top as the candidate for closing. Hoeck replied that he was only trying to demonstrate that numbers could be manipulated many ways (March 10 and 11, 1983).

Circuit Court Judge James C. Murray overturned the District 214 decision to close Arlington High School. Judge Murray's opinion stated that the board created standards to follow in the closing of schools and then failed to follow them (May 26, 1983). District 214 appealed (June 1, 1983), but Arlington High School freshmen were enrolled at Arlington in the Fall of 1983.

On the second day of the new school year, Illinois Appellate Court (Justices James J. Mejda, Kenneth E. Wilson and Francis S. Lorenz) overturned Cook County Judge James Murray's ruling blocking the closing of Arlington High School. The Appellate Court stated that they "cannot question the wisdom of the final action. Right or wrong it is the decision the board adopted as a quasi-legislative function within its powers ..." and that the court is "unable to say that the ultimate decision itself, the decision to close Arlington and reassign the freshmen students was so palpably arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable as to render it null and void (August 31, 1983).

In 1984 Arlington High School was appraised at no higher than $1 million with little value attached to the actual building (April, 1984). District student enrollment was 13,742.

District 214 put Arlington High School up for sale and then for auction (May, 1984).

In 1985 Christian Liberty Academy from Prospect Heights outbid Roosevelt University by $10,000. Arlington High School was sold to Christian Liberty Academy for $1.51 million (April, 1985).

Over 500 trophies and over 500 pictures were dispersed -- given to students, coaches, and former coaches after Arlington High School closed.

* An election in 1914 for the decision to create High School District 214 was controversial in the predominantly farming community that characterized the Arlington Heights area. Opposition to the proposition was strong with over 1200 people voting. Because the Women's Suffrage Act had not been validated by the Illinois Supreme Court, the men's and women's ballots were separated. More men voted against the proposition, but the women's vote would approve the district by a margin of 16 votes if counted. The opposition claimed the proposition lost by one vote with 17 blank ballots. Eventually, the Supreme Court validated the election with the women's votes, the Women's Suffrage Act, and the creation of Township High School District 214. Illinois became the first state east of the Mississippi River to allow women the right to vote in presidential elections.

** FEAPW established by EO 6174, June 16, 1933, pursuant to the National Industrial Recovery Act (48 Stat. 200), same date, to prepare a comprehensive public works program. Renamed PWA and placed under Federal Works Agency, coordinating agency for federal public works activities, by Reorganization Plan No. I of 1939, effective July 1, 1939. PWA abolished, 1943.

National Archives and Records Administration: Records of the Public Works Administration [PWA]

Mickey Horndasch, Curator, Arlington Heights Historical Museum contributed to this article. Other sources:
Township High School District 214. | Archives | 'HEIGHTS' Years | "The Building"

District Enrollment
with District Milestones

(Presented by year with enrollment in parentheses)*

1922 (101)
Arlington High School opened (originally named Arlington Heights Township High School)

1928 (251)
Arlington High School first addition

1938 (517)
Arlington High School second addition

1946 (669)
Arlington High School shop wing addition

1949 (904)
Arlington High School addition for new gymnasium, cafeteria approved.

1949-52 (1,169)
Arlington High School addition (named Grace Gym in 1967)

1955-1956 (2,235)
Arlington High School addition of band room, sunken gym and two wings of circle drive. (Name change from Arlington Heights Township High School to Arlington High School).

1957 (2,773)
Prospect High School opened (originally freshmen sophomores only went Prospect and junior and seniors went to Arlington)

1962 (6,323)
Forest View High School opened

1964 (8,276)
Wheeling High School opened

1966 (10,784)
Elk Grove High School opened

1968 (13,520)
John Hersey High School opened

1971 (17,419)
Rolling Meadows High School

1973 (19,000)
Buffalo Grove High School opened

1975-76 (19,823)
Enrollment for all of District 214 peaked during this school year

1984 (13,742)
Arlington High School closed

1986 (12,447)
Forest View High School closed

1988 (10,848)
Edward Gilbert Administrative Complex dedicated

1989 (10,381)
Maryville Education Center/Nipper School (MEC)

1992 (10,597)
STEP becomes Forest View Alternative School

1996 (11,243)
MEC / Nipper School becomes Nipper Career Education Center

1997 (11,443)
Vanguard School opened

2002 (12,102)
Newcomer Center opened

2004 (12,500)
Nipper Career Education Center closed


*District enrollment figures may vary during the course of the school year.