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. Estimates for the renovation have
ranged from $3 million for stabilization and code upgrades to $10-15 million
for a top-of-the-line community center with multiple uses.
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. BCCI is struggling to raise the funds necessary to meet the
upcoming lease payment of $300,000 it owes to the village, which the village
in turn owes to the school district by July 2011. If the payment is not
made, 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
President, John Snow, Brainerd
Community Center, Inc.: (847) 549-8234; 416 W. Park Ave., Libertyville,
IL, 60048; email@example.com.
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.