Arlington High School – Bureau County

Arlington School 2010
Photo By Dave Nanninga
Arlington School Rear View

The History of Arlington School in Bureau County

Arlington (population 211) is located in north-central Illinois in the northeast portion of Bureau County. Illinois Route 89 is the main roadway leading to and from Arlington. The county roadways of 3200 E. and 3150 N will also take you into Arlington. The Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railroad passes through Arlington as well and was instrumental in the early growth and establishment of the village. Arlington is located about 9 miles northwest of Peru.

The history of the village of Arlington can be viewed on the web addresses of,_Illinois and .

A summary of information from both articles is as follows:

Arlington was established in Westfield Township in Bureau County in the early 1840s. The town was platted along the Burlington Railroad line in 1853.  Arlington was incorporated as a village in 1874.  The town was known as Long Grove at one point. It is named Arlington after a city in New York of the same name. In the very early 1900s the population of the town was around 400 residents.  The town had great promise with several stores in operation.

Two disasters seemed to have led to the stifling of the Arlington’s growth.  The Cherry Mine Disaster in 1909 led to the closing of that mine and is said to have caused several residents to leave to find work elsewhere.  In the 1950s a tornado ripped through Arlington causing great destruction of many businesses and homes.  Many of those effected chose not to rebuild and simply left the village.

Arlington School Inscription
“District No. 88 – 1921”

The history of the Arlington school was printed in a newspaper article in the Bureau County Republican dated July 9, 2012. It is reprinted below:

Only memories remain …

By Barb Kromphardt –

Arlington Village President Dick Koch watches closely as the former Arlington school is demolished Monday morning. The floors had rotted in the old building, and the double-bricked exterior walls were not insulated, making the building expensive to heat. A playground and shelter will be constructed on the site. (BCR photo/Barb Kromphardt)

ARLINGTON — The former Arlington School building will become the latest Bureau County school building to sink back into the dust as it is demolished this week.

Workers from Boehm Brothers of Peru began the two-week project late last week, and most of the main building came down Monday.

“I feel relieved,” said Village President Dick Koch, who watched from the sidelines.

Koch said it has been a challenge to keep the windows boarded up and trespassers out since the village bought the school from the LaMoille School District for $1 in 2003.

Koch said there had been no heat in the building for years, and the inside was dangerous with its rotten and sagging floors.

Also paying close attention to the demolition is Lynne Bonnell, who along with her father, Laurence (Nuco) Fonderoli and her three children all attended the school.

Bonnell said she was saddened with the school being demolished, and her family had many fond memories of the school. She said her father started school there in 1934 at a time when there were nuns as teachers, and her children attended Arlington Grade School while it was consolidated with the LaMoille School District. Bonnell, herself, attended from 1954-1962 before graduating with her class of 13 students.

“Blanche Mahar was my first- and second-grade teacher; Arlene Stielow taught third and fourth grade; Lester Lindenmier taught fifth and sixth grade; and Nellie Hubbard taught seventh and eighth grade and was the school principal,” she said. “I especially enjoyed the first- and second-grade room as it had a small stage where we had school plays.”

Bonnell said the school’s time had come.

“Though I am saddened by it being demolished, it is only a shell of it being a school with happy, laughing children in attendance for 79 years,” she said. “I am glad it will be replaced by a shelter and a new playground.”

On Monday, Koch said a 40-foot-by-40-foot playground will be constructed on the site, thanks to $15,000 from KaBOOM!, a national non-profit organization, and $9,000 raised by the village in a number of fundraisers. Construction is set for Aug. 11, and Koch said 35 to 40 volunteers should be involved.

In addition to the playground and shelter, Koch said trees will be planted around the area for all of Arlington’s mayors. There will also be a memorial constructed out of salvaged bricks from the school for all the teachers who taught there.

Koch said all of the work on the site, from the asbestos abatement and demolition to the final landscaping and seeding will be paid for with a $75,000 infrastructure grant the village received from the state. Koch said the village has received one-fourth of the money and will get the rest when the work is completed.

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The history of Arlington School

On April 11, 1867, the Arlington School Board purchased the entire Block 16 in Gilson’s Addition in the southeast section of the town for $610. A new frame building was built on the property at a cost of $14,800. Attendance ranged from 125 to 150 pupils due to the population expansion of the village to approximately 600 people.

In 1903, the school board, in consultation with Fr. John W. Cummings, pastor of St. Patrick Church, obtained the services of the Sisters of St. Benedict, Nauvoo, Ill., as teachers. When school opened for the fall term, Sisters Aloysius, Lucille, Veronica and Raphaella arrived to staff the Arlington Public School’s four classrooms. From 1922 through 1925, a three-year high school program was offered in the school.

In August 1920, the frame school building was burned to the ground. It was replaced by a modern, 14,604-square-foot, two-story building of brick construction. While the new school was under construction, Spaulding and community halls were used as classrooms. In January 1922, the new building was ready for occupancy.

By the 1935-36 school year, regular instruction in religion had begun. The instruction was held every Tuesday and Thursday morning from 9 to 9:45 a.m. The Rev. Merle Robeson took charge of the Protestant children and Fr. W. J. Scollin took charge of the Catholic children. The classroom teachers were Sisters Imelda, Loyola, Louise and Scholastica. The Sisters of St. Benedict continued to serve the community until 1954.

In 1959, the school was remodeled. A gymnasium with locker rooms and a kitchen were added in 1963. In the spring of 1971, Arlington Grade School District No. 88 consolidated with the LaMoille and Van Orin school districts to form LaMoille Community Unit District No. 303. The Arlington school was used as a lower elementary grade school until April 6, 2001, when the building was closed. On May 19, 2003, the LaMoille Community Unit School District voted to sell the Arlington School building and adjoining property to the village of Arlington for $1.

Source: Lynne Bonnell”.

You can view more photos and informaion on the Bureau County Geneology Trails web address of .

The photo below was taken by Owen Pulver and shows that only the gymnasium and some new playground equipment remain on he former school grounds.

Arlington School Grounds in 2013 – Building Razed
Photo by Owen Pulver (left click on photo for larger view)

Arlington High School Quick Facts

Year Grade School opened:   1867

Year brick bldg constructed:   1921

Year 3-Year HS started:         1922

Year 3-year HS discontinued: 1925

Year annexed to La Moille:     1971

Year bldg ceased operation:    2001

Year bldg demolished:            2012

Arlington team colors:             unavailable

Arlington team nickname:        unavailable

School Fight Song:                 unavailable

Arlington School Gym Interior


Did Arlington school children compete against neighboring towns in basketball or baseball?  The gymnasium currently standing was likely constructed in 1963  If you have information relating to this contact us via the means listed below.


If You Have Further Information 

We are anxious to find out more about the Arlington school district. You can contact us via e-mail at or you can write to us via real mail at:

Illinois HS Glory Days

6439 N. Neva Ave.

Chicago, Il.  60631

Arlington School Front with Gymnasium

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