North Dixon High School

North Dixon High School
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Dixon, IL
North Dixon School
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Built in 1868 – housed H.S. until 1900

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

Ronald Reagan
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H.S. Photo on Left – Presidential Photo on Right

The following link to read quotes from President Ronald Reagan was provided to us by Sam Jacobs:

Dixon Union (co-op) H.S. Football Team – 1927
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Ronald Reagan is in the bottom row, second from right


North Dixon High School didn’t win any IHSA team hardware. However, they have an interesting athletic history. North Dixon fielded teams in football, basketball and track. Sometime before the school districts combined, the sports programs began to co-op.

Site visitor Michael Lawton had the following to contribute about the athletic programs of the Dixon schools:

“The first report of both schools playing football was in 1897. Up through 1912, most of the time the two schools fielded seperate athletic teams and played seperate schedules, even including a game against each other. However, in some years (1898, 1906, 1907, 1910) the schools combined forces and called themselves “Dixon Union High School”. Beginning in 1912, the two schools combined once and for all and the team was simply known from then on as Dixon High School.”

We’re seeking more information as far as win-loss records, trophies and coaches are concerned.


North Dixon’s football history can date back to 1897. By the late 1920s, when Reagan was in school, the football programs officially combined into one. They were supposed to have an interesting rivalry with Dixon while their programs were still seperate.

According to Lawton, the football team from 1901 had a record of 6-1 with their only loss to the much larger Rockford High School 28-0. On Thanksgiving Day in 1905 in front of a huge crowd, North Dixon played Dixon to a 0-0 tie. It would be the last time the two high schools from Dixon would play each other.

Early football games were played at Pleasure Park during the turn of the previous century.


In the early 1900s, North Dixon fielded their first Basketball team. They also had interesting battles with Dixon. They played each other as late as the 1918-19 season, a game that Dixon won. In the 1919 postseason, North Dixon lost to Morrison 18-14 in the District tournament.


North Dixon High School was fortunate to have one of their athletes stand out amongst Illinois’ best in Track and Field. F.E. Lord was the state champion in the 220-yard hurdles in 1905.

North Dixon High School Individual Placer

F.E. LORD          220-yard Hurdles          STATE CHAMPION!!

Seeking More Information

If you have ANY information about anything related to North Dixon High School, including an expansion of the history already mentioned, and our unknown “Quick Facts” information, please drop us an E-mail at – or – you can write to us at:

Illinois High School Glory Days
6439 N. Neva St.
Chicago, IL  60631

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