Chicago North Division/Waller H.S. “Wolves”

Chicago North Division High School
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Submitted by Ellen DePriest
Chicago North Division/Waller High School
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              The History of Chicago North Division/Waller High School

Chicago (population 2.8 million) is located in northeastern Illinois in eastern Cook County. Lake Michigan, the Chicago and Des Plaines Rivers are the main waterways to and from town. Interstates 90, 94, 55, and 57 will all lead you to the “Windy City,” as will numerous rail services and highways with federal and state designations. From what started as a small village in the early 1800’s, Chicago has grown to the nation’s third largest city and one of the most famous places in the world.

North Division High School was opened in 1875 to relieve overcrowding at Chicago High School along with West Division (later renamed McKinley) and South Division. It only accepted freshmen and sophomores at first, but once it was apparent that there were more high schools needed, juniors and seniors were also admitted in 1882 as the original Chicago High School closed its doors.

The school was called North Division since it was on the North Side of the city, but changed its name to Waller in honor of Robert A. Waller in 1899 as it moved into a newer location. Waller was educated at Chicago High School, graduated from Washington & Lee University, then came back to Chicago where he was successful in real estate and civic affairs, serving on the board that hosted the Columbian Exposition in 1893. Waller was comptroller of the city at the time of his death in 1899.

The school name changed again in 1979 when it was decided to change the name to Lincoln Park in honor of the neighborhood it was located. More about the history of North Division and Waller can be found clicking on this link:


Year opened as North Division:     1875

Year expanded to 4-yr school:      1882

Year renamed Waller:                  1899

Year of change to Lincoln Park:    1979

School colors:                             Blue & Yellow

School nickname:                        the “Wolves”

School song:                               unknown


Both North Division and Waller had plenty to offer to its student body. As a charter member of the Cook County League in 1890, the boys had football, ran track, played basketball, baseball, tennis, and swimming, while also holding their own in rowing. From information complied from, the girls completed in basketball and track.

Historian Robert Pruter tells us the reason why Waller stayed as North Division to 1910 is because the student body resisted the change of the name to Waller, and newspapers acceded to the wishes of the North Division teams that they be called “North Division” rather than Waller. So all results should show North Division to 1910.


North Division won three outright Cook County League titles and shared a fourth with Englewood during the early 1900’s. They also played in one of the first-known interdivision games in 1903 against Brooklyn Boys’ High School, winning 75-0. Thru 1939, records do not show that the school (which was by then known as Waller) did not win another title.

1900       Cook County League Champions                     coach unknown

1903       Co-Cook Co. League Champs (w/Englewood)  coach unknown

Defeated Brooklyn Boys’ High 75-0 in interdivision game

1904       Cook County League Champions                     coach unknown

1906       Cook County League Champions                     coach unknown


North Division and Waller were well-represented at the state track meet as early as 1898 when it came back with a medalist at the event. From that point forward, the school enjoyed success on the oval track, regardless if it was indoors or outdoors as evidenced by three league titles.

1898  Individual Medalist

           L.M. Booth                          Pole Vault—3rd place
1903  Individual Medalists

           C. Hagerup                         880-yd run—3rd place
Walter Steffen                    220-yd hurdles—3rd place

1904  5TH IN STATE!!!

          Cook County League Indoor & Outdoor Champions 


1   Pontiac                                     20

2   Anna                                         15

Jacksonville HS                         15

4   Oak Park-River Forest                13

  5   Chicago North Division/Waller 11  

Individual Medalist

           Roy Rennacher                  Pole Vault—STATE CHAMP!!! (height 10′ 0″)

                                                     Discus—2nd place
Shotput—2nd place

1906   Tied for 8th in State

State Final Standings

1   Chicago Phillips                              12

Aurora West                                   12

  8   Chicago North Division/Waller        7 4/7

           Individual Medalists
Arthur Scheying               High Jump—Co-STATE CHAMPION!!! (height 5’6″)
(tied w/Edwin Hubble of Wheaton HS, creator of Hubble Space Telescope)
Gregory Vigeant              880-yd run—2nd place
Boynton Rogers               Pole Vault—2nd place

              F. Nelson                         220-yd hurdles—3rd place

1907  7th in State

          Cook County League Outdoor Champions


1   Oak Park-River Forest                 18

7   Chicago North Division/Waller   5 1/5

8   Greenfield                                    5

Normal Community                       5

Joliet Township                            5

Chicago McKinley                        5

Moline HS                                   5

Chicago Phillips                           5

Individual Medalists

              Boynton Rogers                      High Jump—3rd place
Pole Vault—2nd place
Gregory Vigeant                     880-yd run—2nd place
1910   Nelson Norgren                          Shotput—2nd place

1926   Tied for 9th in State


1  Chicago Senn                           17.5

9  Macomb                                    6

Chicago Waller                        6

Individual Medalists

             William Labant                       Long Jump—2nd place

             J. Labant                                Long Jump—4th place              

1927   Individual Medalist

             William Labant                        Long Jump—3rd place



North Division/Waller had success as a cage team, competiting in three championship games of the Cook County League tournament, and taking two titles during the early 1900’s. The school actually was one of the first in the city that began playing other teams, starting as far back as 1896 against YMCA and other club teams, then was involved in the inaugural season of the CCL’s boys’  basketball action in 1900-01 before losing in the title game

1901      Lost to Hyde Park in overtime,  23-22

1903      Beat Medill, 41-14

1904      Downed Austin, 26-19


As early as the spring of 1894, North Division had a team that played against other schools, including those that were members of the Cook County High School Lawn Tennis Association. The organization held a tournament in 1894.


Here’s a first for the trivia buffs: in 1902, North Division/Waller along with Armour Academy and Lewis Institute competed in the first-known interscholastic swimming competition among Illinois high schoolsNo other records have been found on the IHSA website to show if the school had any swimmers that placed at the state meet.


Another first for Illinois prep sports history happened with North Division’s help. On May 14, 1884, Hyde Park and North Division hooked up on the baseball diamond in what was the first-ever game with two Illinois public high schools, which was won by Hyde Park, 15-7. North Division won the Cook County League in 1886.


North Division was one of the first schools in Chicago to play this sport during the winter months, which amounted to a version of today’s softball, using thinner bats and a ball that was 14 to 17 inches thick. The school joined the Cook County League in 1896, and won the league titles in 1903 as well as 1905.


Given its close location to Lake Michigan, Waller competed in this sport, beginning in 1939. It won the Senior Eight division in 1941 and competed in the Central States Schoolboy Rowing Association Regatta, which led into the Central States Regatta after the city championship was held.


There was girls’ hoops played around the turn of the 20th century as North Division did have a team. The IHSA website states that North Division was involved in a game with one of the lowest amount of points scored by two teams. On March 15, 1901. Austin (3) and North Division (1) combined for just four points in an overtime contest, just two points shy of the state record. The school continued to play up thru 1910 when Chicago Schools Superintendent Edwin Cooley banned all girls’ interscholastic sports.


One athlete went to the state finals and came back a medal to honor the long history of track at Waller as girls’ sports were just getting started at the state level in the 1970’s.

1976    Individual Medalist

            Dorthea Patterson            Long Jump—-4th place


–H. Jamison Handy (class of 1902)— Although Handy never swam on the North Division swimming team, his subsequent career led him to be elected to the International Swimming Hall of Fame. In the 1904 Olympic Games at St. Louis, he took third in the 100-yard breast, and helped the USA take third in the 440-yard free relay. He was an alternate member on the United States Olympic water polo team in 1924, and became manufacturer of swimming-related products and innovator in underwater camera technology.

–Walter Steffen (class of 1904)— after serving as captain and quarterback for North Division’s intersectional champs over Brooklyn Boys in 1903, he starred on the University of Chicago team, where he made Walter Camp’s all-American third team in 1907 and first team in 1908. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

Nelson Norgren (class of 1910) – became an all-American basketball player at the University of Chicago.


so please send us your information about North Division or Waller High School…we would like to hear from YOU!!! We definitely would like to find out more about the school’s history, its’ students and faculty, and other items that are currently unknown (such as words and music to the school song).

You can email us at or send it via USPS to:

Illinois High School Glory Days

6439 North Neva

Chicago, IL  60631

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