The History of Little York High School
The village of Little York (population 269) is located on Il. Route 135 approximately 10 miles north of U.S. Route 34. The nearest town of note is Monmouth which is about 8 miles to the southeast of Little York. The Cedar Creek runs to the north of town and Davids Creek to the south. Little York is located in northwestern Warren County.
The history and origin of the town needs further research by a local citizen. A great history of the Little York School District was provided to us by Mike Edwards:
“I have a copy of the Little York Sesquicentennial bulletin that was put together for 150 years. Little York started in 1836 and the Sesquicentennial was held in 1984 (August 18-24). It has quite a bit about the Schools.
The picture of the brick building reflects information about the school in present day. The original building is just North of the existing high school building which has been refurbished into apartments. The stonework still shows the school name. Here is the text of the information.
It must have been shortly after that, possibly in 1903 or 1904, that the first brick school building was built in Little York. It is presumed that it housed both the elementary and the high school from its beginning for various sources agree that Little York High School opened in 1904 as a two-year high school and became a three-year school in 1905.
Dave Armstrong tells us the following about the first brick school building pictured above:
“This photo shows the original part of the Little York Grade & High School. this picture is from around 1909. The building was doubled in size a few years later. The gym was added around 1932, the new part, which is the section in the picture Mike Edwards sent you was built around 1956. This school was last used in the 1978-79 school year. At that time it held 2-4 grade classes.”
In an article written by Carol Clark and printed in the Daily Review Atlas, May 30, 1979, it is said that it became a four-year school in 1906, and continued the four year program until 1921 when it reverted to a three-year high school.
According to David Pardee, as reported in an article by Ralph Eckley for the same newspaper, in 1915 Little York had eight grades of elementary school and four years of high school, all of which were located in one four-room building. The high school occupied one room, and J.K. Neumann was principal for the entire school, as well as the only teacher in the high school. The picture of the student body of 1915 shows twenty-six high school students and the principal.
Another article written by Ralph Eckley for the June 2, 1983, issue of the Review Atlas, Lavona Adams Steepleton is quote as saying that when she started to Little York High School in the fall of 1923 it was only a two-year high school but by the time she was a junior it had been expanded to a three-year school.
During the times when there was only a three-year high school it was not uncommon for some of the students to go to Monmouth High School for their last year, staying in Monmouth boarding houses during the week.
About 1927 the first addition was made to the school. If the original school was only four classrooms, the addition must have doubled the space or possibly tripled it. The second addition was a gymnasium which was built in the 1930s. One source says in 1932 while another states it was built about 1938. This gym was used by students in both schools.
In the fall of 1938 Little York Community High School became a four-year institution. From that time until the new high school was built, the high school was on the second floor with the exception of the science classes which were taught on one room on the first floor. When the high school added home economics and agriculture courses, these classes were held in the basement of the building.
In 1941 and 1942 the Little York Community High School was built at a cost of $75,000. General contractors for the new construction were Jorgenson and Son of Clinton, Iowa. The move to the new high school building was made in February of 1942. The second semester of the 1941-9142 school year, the high school had a six-day week. By that time the United States was in the Second World War and there was a man-shortage so the male students were needed to work in the fields. The last day of school that year was May 2.
The building formerly occupied by both the elementary and high school classes became the Little York Elementary School. The gymnasium attached to the elementary school continued to be used by both schools although they were in two different school districts governed by two school boards.
The next major change was the addition to the elementary school in 1956 when classrooms were added to the front of the old building.
These seperate elementary and high school districts continued to operate until 1960 when the Yorkwood School District was formed. This was the combination of the Little York and Kirkwood schools. During the first years of the new district which encompassed grades K-12, the kindergarten through sixth grade grade went to the respective elementary buildings. Grades seven, eight, and nine went to the Kirkwood High School, while grades ten through twelve attended classes in the Little York High School building.
The Little York baseball field is used by the Junior Sheriffs League presently. I don’t know if it was used by Little York High school but I am sure it was. The Pavilion that sits on the Northwest corner of the field is called “Tapole’s Pad”. It was named after my father whose real name is Richard S. Edwards but everyone in three counties knew him as “Tadpole”. He was a board member for Warren County for several years.”
The former high school in Little York still stands and is in use today as an apartment building. The building served as Yorkwood High School for grades 10 – 12 from 1960 through 1969. It then served the school district as a grade school from 1970 through 1979 when a new school building was built.
Recent consolidation talks have been kicked around. It was decided that Yorkwood High School would be closed at the conclusion of the 2006-07 school year. Students of Little York and Kirkwood will now attend high school as part of the Alexis United School District.
Little York High School Quick Facts
Year opened: probably late 1800s
Year closed: 1960
Consolidated to: Yorkwood High School
School nickname: the “Eagles”
School colors: Purple & Gold
School Fight Song: unavailable