The History of Vergennes High School
Vergennes (population 491) is located in far southwestern Illinois about 12 miles northwest of Carbondale. The town was settled in 1846 and was originally known as Middleton or Middletown. The name was changed by one of the first influencial settlers in honor of his hometown in Vermont. This name change occurred in 1876. Vergennes is located in the northeastern portion of Jackson County. The main roadway leading to and from Vergennes is Illinois Route 13 which connects to Illinois Route 4 just 2 miles to the south of town. A branch of the Beaucoup Creek flows to the west of town. The Illinois Central Gulf Railroad still travels through Vergennes as it has for over 100 years. Much of the information supplied above was found on the Illinois Trails webpage http://www.iltrails.org/jackson/v3.htm .
The following history of Vergennes schools was provided to us by Wilma (Coffer) Westerfield as found in the 1950 Vergennes High School yearbook:
THE HISTORY OF VERGENNES COMMUNITY HIGH SCHOOL
In 1915, the Vergennes High School was only a one-year institution taught in the old two-room frame grade school building. It was so promising that a second year was added.
The grades and a two-year high school were moved into a new brick building, the present grade building, in the fall of 1918. The next year a three-year high school program was a reality, the Vergennes Non-High School.
The people of the community saw how important the new school was, and in 1921, by popular vote, created the Vergennes Community High School. The first year of the new school was held in the grade building, but by the fall of 1922 a new building was completed and the high school students enrolled in the present building.
However, an addition was started in 1940 and completed in 1941, which included a gymnasium-auditorium, two classroom, stage and dressing rooms. This brought the physical plant up to its present state.
The enrollment for the first year of the Community High School is not known, but the graduates numbered five. Through the years, the student body increased and in 1936 the commercial department was added. The enrollment reached its peak in 1942 with eighty nine students. The largest graduating class was in 1944 with twenty two.
The campus was plain in its early years. By senior class gifts and school purchases, the campus has been beautified and landscaped. One of the largest projects carried on in one year was done by the senior class of 1937, and included the planting of evergreens and shrubs. Our visitors always comment favorably on the beauty of our campus. Some have said, “as beautiful as any in the state.”
(**The above information was printed in the 1950 year book.)
Vergennes High School served the residents of the town for at least four decades. We believe it was in the late 1950s and early 1960s that consolidation talks began between Vergennes and nearby Elkville. We believe the effort was finalized in 1962 with the creation of the Elverado School District.
The high school for the new district was located in Elkville. Vergennes residents maintained a grade school in their town which serves the Elverado District today for grades K – 5. We are not certain if the grade school is held in the old Vergennes HS building or even if the VHS building still exists. Please e-mail us if you have this information.
Vergennes High School Quick Facts
Year opened: 1921
Year closed: 1962
Consolidated to: Elverado School District (Elkville)
Vergennes HS team nickname: the “Tigers”
School team colors: Maroon & White
School Fight Song: unavailable