Neo-Classical-style school was built in 1917 and was the first high school
in Central Lake County. Actor Marlon Brando attended, as did Major League
Baseball player Brett Butler. A Gothic Revival-style gymnasium wing was
added in 1929 and was host to regional boxing tournaments as well as to a
WWII war bond rally featuring Helen Keller. In 1954, a new high school was
built and the original building became a freshman center, dubbed the
“Brainerd Building” due to its location on Brainerd Avenue. The property
was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.
Current Condition and/or
Status: District academic use of the Brainerd Building ended in 1999
after the completion of a new district high school in Vernon Hills.
Classrooms were used until 2003 by the Libertyville Parks and Recreation
Department. After 2003, classroom use ended but the gymnasium continued to
be used for athletic activities by the school district until 2004. In 2006,
a local non-profit, the Brainerd Community Center, Inc. (BCCI), was founded
to sub-lease the building from the Village and to spearhead a plan to
renovate it into a multi-purpose community center. BCCI has petitioned the
Village to place a bond referendum for rehabilitation funding on the March
18, 2014 ballot. The $11.5 million borrowing would fully fund the renovation
of the original 1917 classroom building. The rehabilitated Auditorium space
would accommodate the performing arts and banquet/receptions, venues not
currently available in Libertyville. The 1917 exterior will be maintained
intact. The 1929 gym would be demolished to provide for additional parking.
Village real estate taxes would rise for 10 years to retire the debt. A
slideshow of the planned Brainerd Community Center can be viewed at
Potential Threat: School District
128, which owns the building and leases it to the Village of Libertyville,
wants to demolish the building and use the site for expanded athletic fields
and parking. If the March referendum is not successful, the school district will most likely take back the building for
What You Can Do: Contact
Libertyville Mayor Terry Weppler to urge village and school district
officials to find a solution that will preserve the building. Visit
www.savebrainerd.org for additional information
on the history of the building and how you can support BCCI’s efforts.
Mayor Terry Weppler: (847)
362-2430, Village of Liberyville, 118 W. Cook Avenue, Libertyville, IL
John Snow, Brainerd
Community Center, Inc.: (847) 549-8234; 416 W. Park Ave., Libertyville,
IL, 60048; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos: 1, school, historic view; 2 school,
2009; 3 school entrance, historic view and 2009; 4 gymnasium interior,
historic view; 5 gymnasium interior, 2009; gymnasium exterior, 2009. Photos
courtesy of Brainerd Community Center, Inc.