Buckingham High School “Beavers”

Buckingham School Building – 2012
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Now a Village Hall
Original Buckingham High School Building
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Submitted by Sherree Benoit – Courtesy of the Herscher Area Historical Society

The History of Buckingham High School

Buckingham (population 237) is located in the northeastern portion of Illinois in the southwest portion of Kankakee County.  The town is about 15 miles southwest of Kankakee (as the crow flies).  Illinois Route 115 is the main roadway which passes by the north side of town.  County Road S 1600W also passes through Buckingham.  According to www.mapquest.com Buckingham is about 5 blocks from north to south and 2 blocks from east to west.

An article published about the town of Buckingham, written by Jim Ridings in his books “County West,  A Sesquicentennial History of Kankakee County West” , and “County West Companion, A Further History of Western Kankakee County”, which was submitted by Sherree Benoit, the following is the history of Buckingham:

William Conrow (1839-1881) was one of the founders of the village of Buckingham.  He studied law and became an attorney in 1867.  He was named superintendent of schools for Ford County in 1871 and 1872.  Mr. Conrow and his wife, Annie, moved to the Buckingham area in 1877.  In 1878 he was able to convince the Illinois Central Railroad to build their tracks through Buckingham.  Annie Conrow was named the first postmaster for Buckingham in 1878 as well.  Mr. Conrow died of cold he contracted while working on the railroad plans in February of 1881.

The first grade school for Buckingham was built in 1884.  This building also served as Buckingham High School “for a few years”.  The original two-story wood-frame building was razed in 1930 to make way for a newer, more modern brick building. We know that this building served the town as a school through 1980.  It was that year when the town of Buckingham saw its educational history come to a close.  There were a total of 42 kids in the Buckingham Grade School for grades 1 – 4 in 1980, causing the decision to be made by the Herscher School District to close the building.

Buckingham HS Class of 1901
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Submitted by Sherree Benoit (left click on photo for larger view)

We do have a photo of the Buckingham High School Class of 1901. This would seem to tell us that Buckingham High School was in service in the late 1800s. Our guess is that Buckingham School offered a two or three-year course of high school study from the late 1800s through the 1940s.  The high school portion of the school was likely closed in the late 1940s.  Children were then likely to go to high school in nearby Hercher, or possibly Reddick.

The fate of the Buckingham School building built in 1930 is being sought.

Buckingham High School Quick Facts

Year opened:                               late 1800s?

Year closed:                                1940s?

Consolidated to:                           Herscher or Reddick

Buckingham HS team nickname: “Beavers”

Uniform Colors:                            Purple, White, Pink

Buckingham School Building 2012
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Athletics and Extra-Curricular Activities

We currently do not have evidence that Buckingham High School competed in athletics with other schools of the area.  If you have this information please contact us via the means below.

We do know that Buckingham School was a major part of the town’s early history for nearly 100 years.  There had to have been some great activities and extra-curricular activities planned for the kids who attended there.  School dances, plays, clubs, field trips, all were likely to have been an important part of the Buckingham School experience.


*From Karen  (Hartman) Thurston-Stephens:


I started 1st. grade in the fall of ’57.  There wasn’t any kindergarten so we jumped right in to 1st. grade.  The school was a three room school house with a room between all of the class rooms that served as a library.  Two classes were in each room and at the end of our 6th grade, students would then attend 7th. grade at Herscher Grade School.  When I attended, our 1st. and 2nd. grade teacher was Mrs. Cane.  Mrs. Cane then retired and the 1st. and 2nd. the following year was Mrs. Collins.  3rd. and 4th. grade teacher was my all time favorite and her name was Mrs. Hazel Nutt.  5th. and 6th. grade teacher was Mr. Cunningham and was also the principal.  There were no electric bells to call us in from recess, just a large hand bell that you could hear a mile away.  Once a week there was a speech therapist by the name of Ms. Brown that came to the school. She traveled between other schools within the Herscher School District.  We had a cafeteria and Lena Burrow was our cook.  She would go to the main school and would bring back our lunch but she always doctored it up for us.  And if there was something on the menu that she knew we didn’t care for, she would make us peanut and jelly sandwiches.  We all loved Lena.

We were called the Buckingham Beavers and our color was pink and purple.  My older brother even had a small flag and a beanie with the school name and the Beavers written on it.

We always had recess outside even in the winter, but if it was raining or if the temperature was too severe we had recess in the basement.  We didn’t have any kind of basketball hoops so we used the pipes next to the ceiling as our hoop.  I think we also may have started the first roller derby.  We would roller skate in the basement when we were inside.  Being a small school the boys had to let us girls play in order to field a team.  Us girls got to be really good at baseball.  When the temperature got hot Mrs. Nutt would let us take off our shoes, but we had to make sure they were right by the side of our desk just in case the Superintendent made a surprise visit.

I was the President of the PTO in 1980 when the decision was made to close the school.  We fought to keep the school open but it wasn’t to be.  My daughter Mistie, was the last 1st. grade class to attend Buckingham Grade School.  Her teacher was Mrs. Rieke and she retired at the end of the final year.

It was a wonderful experience attending Buckingham Grade School.  My classmates and I always say, it was a Norman Rockwell era.”

Do You Have ANY Information to Share? 

If you have any information you would like to share regarding Buckingham and its former school please write to us at ihsgdwebsite@comcast.net.  A photo of the brick school building is welcome. You can also mail items to us via the US Postal service at:

IHSGD Website

6439 N. Neva St.

Chicago, Il.   60631

Buckingham School West Side View
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Buckingham School Bell & Flagpole – 2012
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Buckingham School Southeast Side View
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