The History of Vermont High School
Vermont (population 792) is located in western Illinois in southwestern Fulton County. Vermont is situated about 18 miles southeast of Macomb (as the crow flies). According to the website http://www.outfitters.com/illinois/fulton/vermont/vistige.html, Vermont was settled and established as early as 1835.One of its early settlers named it after his home state of Vermont. The town gained great early support as a meat processing location. It was bolstered by the addition of two railroad lines which laid tracks through town in the early 1870’s. The town is known for its excellent architecture and well-built houses.
The steam engine photo to the right was submitted by John Bybee:
“The photo was taken at Vermont’s 8th street crossing, northbound train towards Galesburg. Johnson Elevator in background. Doubleheaded, with a Roger’s built 4-6-0 trailing.”
The cargo on the train includes horse-drawn wagons.
Progress did not ultimately shine well upon Vermont. As major roadways were laid in the western part of Illinois, it seemed Vermont was just far enough off of the beaten path to not warrant one of the three U.S. Routes (67, 136, and 24) that pass within a few miles of its west, north, and south sides respectively. The two county roads that pass through Vermont are County Roads 36 and 13. The AT & SF Railroad now owns both sets of tracks in town. The Otter Creek and Sugar Creek both flow through the area.
The history of the educational progress in Vermont was located and sent to us by John Bybee:
“As I understand it–prior to 1905 Vermont was divided into two school districts–North and South. In the 1880s the North District had a larger enrollment. Ten years later the South District outgrew the North.
South School: Had three rooms containing three grades each plus the High School with a four-year course.
North School: Primary and Intermediate room each with three grades and a High School offering a two-year course, plus the 7th and 8th grades.
1905: Voted to consolidate North and South, couldn’t afford a new central building. Primary rooms were left in South and North Schools. High School plus 3rd and 4th grades were placed in South School Bldg. North School has 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th. Accredited by Uof I in 1910.
1924: A new central HS was built.”
Captions under two photos of the “new” Vermont HS building sent to us by John Marshall are combined below and state the following:
“In 1923, a decision was made to build a new school building for the Vermont community. Thirty tousand dollars had been saved by the school board for such a purpose, and it is estimated that when completed the building and equipment cost about $85,000. Harvey Brinton supervised the masonary work on the building and Fred Rankin the carpentry work. A distinctive feature of the interior design of the building was the gymnasium on the gournd floor level, enclosed on three sides by the balance of the building with passageways affording access to the rooms in the school and also providing the space for spectators and creating a balcony at the second floor level. The building accepted its first classes for the fall term in 1925, and continued through the spring of 1948 as the Vermont Community School. Thereafter it served through the spring of 1977 as the Vermont Grade School building, and for a time accepted some students from Table Grove before the V.I.T. Jr./Sr. High School building opened in 1958. The consolidated Vermont, Ipava, Table Grove Unit District #2, formed in 1948, sold the building when it was no longer used for a school, and it is presently owned by Roberta Queen, and houses her antique shop, Queen’s Schoolhouse, as well as another enterprise, the Outback, owned by John and Sandra (Douglas) Bybee of rural Vermont.”
As the short article states, the late 1940’s brought the pressure of consolidation to the towns of Vermont, Ipava, and Table Grove. In 1948, the three towns agreed to consolidate their efforts and created the Vermont-Ipava-Table Grove (V.I.T.) School District. The schools for the District are now located in a country setting near Table Grove.
A caption underneath the photo posted to the right from the RootsWeb website from which it was found reads:
“Vermont High School – Built 1870s? – Remodeled in 1911
This year’s school was marked by some great improvements upon the schoolhouse. As a new building could not be obtained, it was thought best to remodel the old one. Consequently, changes were made both inside and out. The stairs were rebuilt, and now lie so that they may be more quickly descended in case of fire, and also afford more room in the halls. New desks were installed in the primary room. But the greatest change is seen upon the exterior of the building. The walls were treated to a coat of brick-red paint, and were covered with cement work to a height of six feet from the ground. Concrete walks were also laid in place of the wooden ones. The building now has the appearance of being new.”
The photos below were submitted to us by John Bybee and John Marshall and include some more history information regarding the very early Vermont School system.
The Vermont High School building pictured at the top of this page served many purposes after its closure as a school. It was once a fall-out shelter in the case of a nuclear attack in the 1970s. It also served as a skating rink with concession stand in the 1980s and as an antique store as late as the 1990s. After the occupants left however, the school slowly began to deteriorate. In 2011 the school was destroyed by fire and is not longer standing.
DID YOU KNOW: One famous “resident” of the town’s cemetery is the Ringling Brothers Circus’ own Leo the Lion, who died while the circus was performing there in the late 1800’s. Leo is buried there with his grave marked by its own tombstone.
Vermont High School Quick Facts
Year opened: late 1800’s
Year closed: 1947
Consolidated to: Vermont-Ipava-Table Grove School District (V.I.T.)
School nickname: “Yellow Jackets”
(Football Team was known as the “Crusaders”)
School colors: Gold & Blue
Yearbook name: “The Comet”
School Fight Song: “Vermont High School Loyalty”
Submitted by Ramona Cook
We’re loyal to you Vermont High
We’ll stand firm and true Vermont High
We’ll work til we’re old for that Blue and Gold
To bring honor to you Vermont High
We’ll back you to win Vermont High
In track or in gym Vermont High
So work for that honor
Now boys on with the game
For it’s a victory for Vermont High
CHA-HE CHA-HA CHA-HA-HA CHA-HE CHA-HA CHA-HA-HA
Vermont High, Vermont High, Vermont High
So keep that good old high school spirit aflame
That good old spirit that has always brought fame
With our bright banner o’er us, flying before us
Up swells the chorus
OSKEY WOW WOW
Like those who came before us, Fighting so bold
We’ll always love and reverence blue and gold
And though we leave we never shall forget you
We’re loyal to you Vermont High!!