The History of Waynesville High School
The town of Waynesville (population 452) is located in the northwest corner of De Witt County on county roads 1300 North and North 100 East Road (also County Rd. 17). The Illinois Terminal Railroad runs through the center of town. A branch of the Kickapoo Creek crosses the northeast side. This places Waynesville approximately 15 miles northeast of Lincoln.
The history of Waynesville is in need of further research. The Waynesville school system was set in place in the 1891 when it opened as Waynesville Academy. Classes were first held in the Waynesville Opera House, then moved into the building you see at the top of this page until 1911 when it closed. During that time, Professor W.H. Smith was the head of the school and saw 74 people graduate.
The school building was leased to the township and reopened as Waynesville Township High School in the fall of 1911. A gymnasium and additional classroom space were added in 1940. Three people graduated in the first class (1912), and four people made up the final graduating class in 1955.
The townspeople were very proud of and supported their schools for at least five decades. A consolidation effort with McLean took place in 1955. This information was provided to us by our own Kev Varney:
“In 1955, residents in Waynesville closed their schools and sent their children to McLean, forming McLean-Waynesville, and that school would remain in session in the McLean HS building until the spring of 1972. At that time, McLean and Waynesville along with six other communities (Armington, Atlanta, Danvers, Hopedale, Minier, and Stanford) officially banded together to open the present-day Olympia HS in rural Stanford, as the result of a November 1966 vote.”
The children of current-day Waynesville still attend school as part of the Olympia School District, whose High School is located in nearby Stanford. The grade school children attend school in McLean.
The Waynesville High School building sits on the northwest edge of town. Andy Garrett gives us the following insight on the former Waynesville HS building today:
“The School currently still stands and is being used as a place of storage. It is owed by a former resident of the town, who purchased the School building and property after it closed in 1986. A recent storm did damage to the roof of the Gym and stage area.
“I attended the school for grades K-4. It was then closed in the summer of 1986 and we were moved to the McLean Grade School for my 5-6 grade years. The fall of 1986 is when the Olympia School district added the Middle School to the High School location just outside Stanford, IL. Grades 7th and 8th that had previously been at the individual grades schools were now being bused to the High School.”
Waynesville High School Quick Facts
Year opened as Waynesville Academy: 1891
Reopened as Waynesville Twp. HS: 1911
Year closed: 1955
Year consolidated into Stanford Olympia: 1972
School nickname: “Braves”
School colors: Maroon & Gold
School Fight Song: unavailable
Name of yearbook: “Waynola”