Piece of Arlington High School History Exposed this Week on Euclid Ave at Christian Liberty Academy

If you’re a native of Arlington Heights, and you drove by Christian Liberty Academy late this week, you might have noticed a little historical artifact exposed at the Circle Drive of the former Arlington High School. A sign for Christian Liberty Academy, that was overlaid on the brick and mortar sign when Christian Liberty Academy took over the property, is temporarily removed from the Arlington High School display. The school is working on repairing the sign.

Looking west along Euclid Avenue toward Northwest Highway at sunset.

Christian Liberty Academy has cherished the building history and has a hall dedicated to Arlington’s history, just to the east of the main gym — Grace Gymnasium. There is discussion of moving the original brick and mortar display so that it can become part of the history display. Christian Liberty Academy is also open to any group or benefactor that might have ideas for the display or who may want to give the sign a prominent historical display.

Arlington High School closed in June 1984 because of declining enrollment after a contentious battle to keep the school open. Christian Liberty Academy purchased the property and building for $1.51 million. Years later with enrollment picking up about the year 2001, there was an insider rumor that District 214 had interest in buying back the school. The school district was faced with upgrading and expanding existing District 214 schools for about $110 million, or re-opening Arlington High School and upgrading the building at a cost of about $40 million. Christian Liberty Academy was apparently not interested in selling, or the rumor wasn’t true.

In 1922 the Board of Education adopted it first plans for Arlington High School after a tumultuous start of High School District 214 in 1914. The architect was J.N. Coleman of Chicago, who died two months after signing the contract with the Board. Construction was completed in 1923 at a cost just above $100,000. The new Township High School Building was placed 200 feet back from Euclid Avenue, with its main entrance facing Euclid. The building was designed for a capacity enrollment of 250 students. A gymnasium, study hall, stage, laboratories and 21 classrooms were all included. District student enrollment was 101.

In 1928 the first addition was erected, which is now the east central area of the present building. Cost $125,000. District student enrollment was 251.

In 1939 addition PWA Project 2000T. Public Works Administration
(a P.W.A. project during the Great Depression). The wing is hard to recognize in the current building. One wing on Ridge Avenue and one on Walnut Avenue are each now located in the middle of the building (Grace Gym and shops to the north; and the library, Bristol Theater, and Circle Drive wings to the south). The library and Circle Drive expansion to the south of the wings change the look of the doorway entrance. District student enrollment was 517.

In 1946 the shop wing in the northeast area of the building was added at a cost of $260,000. Also, lights were added to the football field in 1946. District student enrollment was 669.

In 1949 construction was approved for a boy’s gymnasium, homemaking rooms, choral and band rooms, and a cafeteria (the current Grace Gym area). The addition was completed and the new gym was dedicated on May 18, 1952. District student enrollment was 1,169.

In 1955 voters approved bond issue of $1,250,00 for a major addition and renovation. A large portion of the original structure was torn down because of bad mortar. Much of what was left standing was surrounded by the new addition, which included a new band room, the sunken gym, the library, what became the girl’s gym, and the two wings which project toward the Circle Drive. Open House and dedication for the new addition was on November 10-11, 1956. The official name changed from Arlington Heights Township High School to Arlington High School in 1956. District student enrollment was 2,235.

Arlington High School — District 214 on display on October 10, 2013.

In 1967 the main gym was renamed “Grace Gymnasium” dedicated in honor of Athletic Director “Pappy” Grace. District student enrollment was over 10,000 students with the opening of Prospect (1957), Forest View (1962), Wheeling (1964) and Elk Grove (1966).

In the late 1970s District 214 student enrollment was over 19,000 following the opening of Hersey (1968), Rolling Meadows (1971) and Buffalo Grove (1973).

In 1975 District 214’s student enrollment peaked at 19,823 students for the 1975-76 school year.

In 1980 Arlington High School underwent an entire renovation, including new light fixtures, safety accommodations, re-painting, and new carpeting in hallways and offices.

In 1981 the District 214 board announced that two high schools would close by the 1985-86 school year. Red ribbons were tied around trees to symbolize support for Arlington High School.

In 1982 District 214 voted (5-2) to close Arlington High School (May 17, 1982). A group of Arlington High School parents formed the Assembly of Citizens and Taxpayers (ACT) to study the possibility of seceding from District 214 and forming their own district (August, 1982).

A lawsuit was filed by five Arlington Heights residents and the Assembly of Citizens and Taxpayers against District 214, charging the board ignored facts from its own studies (November 18, 1982).

In 1983 District 214 planner Howard Feddema testified that board member Donald Hoeck called him to ask that a computer study’s data be manipulated to have Arlington High School move to the top as the candidate for closing. Hoeck replied that he was only trying to demonstrate that numbers could be manipulated many ways (March 10 and 11, 1983).

Circuit Court Judge James C. Murray overturned the District 214 decision to close Arlington High School. Judge Murray’s opinion stated that the board created standards to follow in the closing of schools and then failed to follow them (May 26, 1983). District 214 appealed (June 1, 1983), but Arlington High School freshmen were enrolled at Arlington in the Fall of 1983.

On the second day of the new school year, Illinois Appellate Court (Justices James J. Mejda, Kenneth E. Wilson and Francis S. Lorenz) overturned Cook County Judge James Murray’s ruling blocking the closing of Arlington High School. The Appellate Court stated that they “cannot question the wisdom of the final action. Right or wrong it is the decision the board adopted as a quasi-legislative function within its powers …” and that the court is “unable to say that the ultimate decision itself, the decision to close Arlington and reassign the freshmen students was so palpably arbitrary, capricious or unreasonable as to render it null and void (August 31, 1983).

In 1984 Arlington High School was appraised at no higher than $1 million with little value attached to the actual building (April, 1984). District student enrollment was 13,742.

District 214 put Arlington High School up for sale and then for auction (May, 1984).

In 1985 Christian Liberty Academy from Prospect Heights outbid Roosevelt University by $10,000. Arlington High School was sold to Christian Liberty Academy for $1.51 million (April, 1985).

Total student enrollment for 2012-2013 was 12,255 in grades 9 through 12. District 214 is currently the second largest high school district in Illinois. Six high schools serve more than 280,000 residents in the communities of Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Elk Grove, Mt. Prospect, Prospect Heights, Rolling Meadows, Wheeling, and Des Plaines in a 68.45-square mile area.

See also …
Arlingtoncards.com Building Built and Closed in Controversy and Turmoil — ARLINGTON HIGH SCHOOL

District 214 Facts and Statistics

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