first free school in Marion, IL was organized in 1956 immediately following
the legislative enactment of 1853 which provided for the maintenance of
schools by public taxation. Prior to this, from 1836, subscription schools
of varying degrees of excellence were maintained at irregular and short
intervals. For a long time after 1856, a four room frame building on the
site now occupied by the Williamson County Courthouse (formerly the site
of the Washington School) was more than adequate for the city's needs.
This facility was called the "Washington Combined School" building and
housed students from grade one (1) to grade twelve (12).
1881, a two room addition was erected and then in 1885, the building was
destroyed by fire. After the fire, an eight room, two-story brick building
which, with an addition of four rooms later, was the essence of the Washington
School when it was torn down in 1969 for the construction of the new Williamson
County Courthouse. This building served as the Marion Junior High School
(grades 7th & 8th) from 1910 until 1951 when the first of two new Junior
High School buildings were constructed and occupied. After 1951, it was
used as an elementary school until it was demolished in 1969.
(Washington Combined School
in about 1911)
chief interest in the history of the Marion schools clusters about the
old Washington building. The school of the period of from 1885 to 1900
probably had most to do with shaping the lives of the men and women who
were in the position of leadership in the early 1900's. It was in the Washington
School building that Morton G. Kimme, added greatly to the reputation of
Marion schools. A list of unusually strong school men, who were principals
and superintendents during this period, includes among others, the names
of B. F. Kiser, who was the head of the English department in Central High
School, Kansas City, MO; S. C. Newsome, who was the District Superintendent
in the Philippine Islands; W. R. Kimsey, who was the former County Superintendent
of Schools in Perry, County; E. Longbons, one of Marion's leading citizens
and representative of Ginn & Company; I. O. Karraker, who was a banker
in Jonesboro, IL, and J. W. Asbury, who moved to Coconut Grove, FL. Mr.
Asbury was the efficient superintendent of Marion City Schools for twelve
years, from 1898 to 1910. It was during his administration that the greatest
development in the schools occurred.
rapid increase in Marion's population from 1900 (2,510) to 1920 (9,582)
made providing adequate school facilities a serious problem. In 1901, it
was necessary to build again and, on the site of the old Cunningham homestead
where the girlhood of Mrs. John A. Logan was spent, a twelve room, two-story
high school building was erected. This was at 414 East Main Street, just
East of where the present Washington Elementary School is located. This
building, called Logan High School, and later, the Logan Elementary School,
was demolished in 1978.
(Logan High School in 1907)
later, in 1904, the original eight room, two-story, brick Lincoln School
was constructed on a 3-acre site at 915 W. Chestnut ST. This building served
as an elementary school until it was torn down when a new Lincoln School
was constructed at 400 Morningside DR (Northeast of town) and occupied
in 1993. The site of the original Lincoln School is now the location of
a large, privately- owned apartment complex (2006).
The next building constructed was Jefferson School at 702 E Boulevard ST
which was a modern two-story eleven room brick building. That building
burned to the ground on the night of January 13, 1949. Jefferson school
students were transferred to the Logan Elementary school (by doubling class
sizes to 45 students) and remained there until Jefferson was rebuilt and
occupied the first time in the fall of 1950.
was re-built, it was changed into a modern one-floor building. The school
has since been expanded. In the 1970's, the School for the Hearing Impaired
was built on the same site, using federal and state funds. The late State
Senator Johns was instrumental in the Marion, IL location of the hearing
school building to be constructed was the Marion Township High School in
1912. In accord with an enactment of the Forty-eight General Assembly,
Marion voted to create a township high school district by the combining
of the west half of East Marion Township and the east half of West Marion
township. A township board was elected and the newly created district bonded
for $60,000 to erect a modern 30-classroom building to be devoted to high
school purposes exclusively.
(Marion Township High School
site at the corner of West Main Street and South Russell Streets
was selected. The building, the cost of which exceeded $70,000, was
occupied for the first time in the fall of 1914. This building was eventually
expanded to the south with another wing, a study hall, and an basketball
gymnasium sunk half-way into the ground, under the study hall. This was
where the State of Illinois Basketball Champions of 1924 played.
3,500 seat gymnasium was constructed west of the high school in 1948 which
included a new study hall, library, movie room, along with additional classrooms
and shops for auto mechanics and wood working. The old study hall in the
original building was converted into an auditorium, complete with a stage
for plays and for Principal(s) Edwards & Bundy to make speeches!
when the Marion schools were consolidated into Unit District #2, the name
of the high school was changed to Marion High School.
This high school building could not accommodate an enrollment of over 1,000
students. In 1962, a referendum was conducted and the voters authorized
the construction of a $1,500,000 high school to be constructed on 32 acres
of land donated to the Marion unit School district #2 by Dr. William W.
Richey, located near the end of South Carbon Street. The school was completed
and the first classes were held in the school in the fall of 1965. Basketball
and football games were still played at the old "Edwards Field" at the
old building on West Main ST until "Wilson Gym" and a new football field
were built in the late 1970's.
1949, construction was started on the new Marion Junior High School located
on East Main Street just east of the Logan School (formerly the location
of the old Marion high School). The first classes were held in the new
school in the fall of 1951. The old Washington School located at 210 W
Jefferson Street, served as the Junior High School prior to the construction
of this building. This building served as the Junior High School until
a new Junior High School was constructed adjacent (and connected) to the
old Marion High School on West Main Street.
(Marion Junior High School
the fall of 1965, the Marion High School on West Main Street was converted
to a Junior High school. The old building served as the Junior High School
until 1975, when a new building constructed west of the existing High School
gymnasium was completed. The old Marion high school building, constructed
in 1912, expanded in 1920, was torn down in 1975-1976.
The original Junior High School building on East Main Street was converted
into an elementary school and was renamed Washington School. The Logan
School building adjacent to the Washington School was demolished about
this time and classrooms were added to Washington on the site..
In 1982, a tornado destroyed the McKinley school building at 904 N Court
ST. Students were housed in the Washington School on East Main ST and the
McKinley building was eventually replaced by combining the students with
students from the Lincoln School in the new Lincoln School on Morningside
DR Northest of town. The old Lincoln school was demolished about 1994 as
classes began in the new school building in 1993.
The enrollment of the Marion High School is expected to increase to over
1500 students in the next 10-15 years. What happens if the current high
school building cannot accomodate the increased enrollment? There is discussion
among certain citizen groups that any new high school should be constructed
at a more accessible location, probably west of Marion either at the corner
of Old RT. 13 and Bainbridge Trail RD, some where along Pentecost RD, or
East of Marion on New Rt. 13.
is a possibility a new school could be constructed on a 61.5 acre site
owned by the school district on Westminister DR next to Interstate 57.
A new access road would be required by extending Halfway RD from Old RT
13 South to Westminister DR and an interchange constructed on Interstate
57, possibly allowing commercial development in the area.
the drawbacks to relocating the high school to a new location is the cost
of replacing the athletic facilities, i.e. the gynasium, football field,
baseball fields, and running track. Sooner or later, It must be relocated.
High School building on South Carbon ST could then be converted to a Junior
High School and the Junior High School building on West Main ST could be
converted into an elementary school building.
of hurdles must be overcome before this becomes a reality. Capital development
funds must be obtained from the State of Illinois and a referendum must
be approved by the voters in the Unit #2 district.