The History of North Dixon High School
Dixon, Illinois (population 16,000) is located along the Rock River in Lee County in Northwestern Illinois. Illinois Routes 2, 38, 26 as well as U.S. Route 52 and Interstate 88 all lead you to the “Petunia Capital of the World”. The “Overland Route” of the Union Pacific railroad runs through the south part of town and the Illinois Central once did.
Educational studies were not too far to find for Dixon residents. In addition to primary education, Dixon was also home to the Rock River Military Academy, Rock River University, Steinman Institute, Dixon Business College, and Northern Illinois State Normal School.
The city is located on both sides of the Rock River, settled on the North side and the South side. The first high school was organized in the Methodist Church on the south side of town in 1858. Ten years later, in 1868, that school district split into two. The North Side School, which included a high school for north side residents, was erected in 1869 on the corner of Ottawa Avenue and Morgan Street at a cost of $20,000 according to the book Dixon, A Pictorial History. The high school of the South Side school would see its lineage continue to this very day as the present Dixon High School. This district retained the records of the original district, meaning the North school was a newly-created district.
The 1869 North building was expanded in 1900, and the new building housed the high school while the old building housed the grade school. In 1881, Dixon North High School enrollment was around 25 students. For a short time, this building was the only high school in Dixon. When the south Dixon High School building burned to the ground in 1907, their students attended the North Dixon school until 1909.
In 1918, the school districts on both sides of the river merged to become together for the first time in fifty years. The two high schools remained separate for another ten years. In 1929, a large campus was built to house the high school students from both sides of town. North Dixon High School was subsequently deactivated with the opening of the new high school. The new building still houses Dixon High School on the north side of town along the Rock River.
The North Dixon High School building was converted into more grade school space until torn down in the 1960s to make way for the Heritage Square retirement community.
FAMOUS ALUM – Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States, lived here during the 1920s. He went to school first at the South Central Dixon School from 1920 to 1923 and then moved from his famous “boyhood home” (now a historic site) to a house just north of the present-day Dixon High School and graduated from North Dixon High School in 1928. Reagan, who also went on to star in Hollywood and become the Governor of California, visited his hometown in 1984 and 1990 returning to his former high schools to pay a visit. Reagan was just one of many current-era presidents who were proud to come from their school system!
Learn more about President Ronald Reagan by reading his biography at the White House website:
North Dixon High School “Quick Facts”:
Year opened: 1900
Year closed: 1929
School Mascot: Unknown
School Song: Unknown
School Colors: Black and Gold
The following link to read quotes from President Ronald Reagan was provided to us by Sam Jacobs: