The History of Kirkwood High School
Kirkwood (population 794) is located in upper-western Illinois in the east-central portion of Warren County. Towns of note near Kirkwood include Monmouth (seven miles to the northeast) and Galesburg (twenty miles to the northeast). The town is located on U.S. Route 34 at County Roads 160th Avenue and 20th Street. The C, B & Q (Chicago, Burlington (IA) and Quincy Railroad) ran through Kirkwood for many years, it was then known as the Burlington Northern, and now the Burlington Northern-Sante Fe railroad. A branch of the South Henderson Creek flows through Kirkwood’s east side.
According to the website page http://www.chairwright.com/history.html, Kirkwood was platted in 1854 and originally called Young America. The town was incorporated in 1855. As the railroad tracks were laid through town, it began to grow and prosper. In 1874, it was decided to change the town’s name to Kirkwood in honor of a Civil War veteran and governor of Iowa by that same name.
The history of Kirkwood High School has been difficult to research. Fred Jenks (Class of 1959) tells us:
“The Kirkwood High School building was built during the winter of 1912-1913 at a cost of $15,000. It was completed March 1913. In 1927 the gymnasium was added to the west side of the building. The first school in the Kirkwood Community was opened in 1840 and was located at the Mineral Springs Ground north of town.”
A history of the Kirkwood school system was written by Ralph Eckley and printed in the Monmouth Review Atlas in the 1980s. That article is reprinted here in its entirety:
: “Kirkwood had its own high school”
“The Yorkwood school buildings, both located between Little York and Kirkwood, serve elementary, junior high and senior high school pupils of the two communitites, but not too many years ago there were high schools in two towns.
Today’s picture (at the top of this page) loaned by Kenneth Jenks, shows the now razed Kirkwood High School building, which had served until Yorkwood High School went into service some years ago.
The building pictured, known as Kirkwood High School, was erected during the winter of 1912-13. A contract for the new building had been awarded Sept. 13, 1912, to H.F. Parkins of Galesburg, on his low bid of $13,800.
The only change made was to select Aledo pressed brick instead of the Abingdon pressed brick previously chosen.
It was completed in March, 1913. A gymnasium was built in 1925 and has become the property of the park district, but the high school building is long gone.
The Kirkwood High School was operated after 1937 by a township high school district, No. 150, which was separate from the elementary district, No. 67, that looked after the elementary school in the north part of Kirkwood.
The first school in the Kirkwood community was located on what was later the Mineral Springs Grounds, and it opened in 1840.
Then the C.B.&Q. railroad was built in 1855, and it served Lyndon, as Kirkwood was then known. The name of Lyndon soon became Young America, and in 1874 it became Kirkwood.
The first public school was held in Tau’s Hall, and a school was built in the south part of Kirkwood in 1861. It ended up as the “ag” shop.
A north school was built in 1865, and it burned in 1898, and was replaced in 1899 by another.”
The first graduate of Kirkwood High School was Sara Green Whitman from the class of 1890.
It was in the late 1950’s that consolidation talks arose between the neighboring towns of Kirkwood and Little York. The effort become a reality after the 1959-60 school year. The new school district was named the Yorkwood School District.
The Kirkwood high school building was converted to a junior high for grades 7 – 9 after the consolidation. The Kirkwood HS building was closed when the new Yorkwood school building was opened in fall of 1969. The Kirkwood HS building was torn down in the mid 1970’s.
Trevor Winebright (Class of 1953) tells us the high school building and the gymnasium were separated until 1949 when an addition connected them to each other.
Kirkwood High School Quick Facts
Year opened: 1890
Year closed: 1960
Consolidated to: (Monmouth)Yorkwood School District
Kirkwood HS team nickname: the “Rams”
Team colors: Purple & Gold
School Fight Song: Kirkwood High School Loyalty Song
Words Provided By FRED JENKS