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Statewide Endangered

2012 Ten Most Endangered Historic Places 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fox River Country Day School

1600 Dundee Ave., Elgin
(Kane County)
 

In a picturesque setting near the Fox River, this beautiful wooded campus is an important natural landscape that contains several significant buildings by noted Prairie School architect John S. Van Bergen. The low-slung buildings, with their stucco, stone and tile details, fit organically into Van Bergen’s landscape design. The school was founded in Michigan in 1913 and relocated to the present site in 1923 as the Chicago Junior School. Forced to close its doors in 2011 due to declining enrollment, the property is currently for sale and bank-owned. Although its 53 acres present a prime development opportunity, the beauty and integrity of the school buildings and surrounding property are a rare extant example of the country school campus. The school deserves protection and careful planning for the future.

The campus has been designated as an Illinois Natural Heritage Landmark in recognition of its importance as a conserved environmental area. The varied landscape includes forest, hillside, open grassland, natural springs and a wetland and is interspersed with hiking trails and bucolic vistas. The Chicago Junior School, originally a boys boarding school, purchased the property in 1923. The school retained a few agrarian buildings, including the centrally located grain silo. The first school building by Rapp & Rapp is no longer extant. The second building, built in 1928 and designed by Prairie School architect John S. Van Bergen, set the architectural tone for the campus. Drawing on his work at Braeside School in Highland Park, Van Bergen designed a multi-functional school building that is expertly integrated into the landscape. The central two-story section is flanked on either side by long, low wings that embrace the sloping hillside. His generous use of native limestone enhances the horizontality of the structure. Van Bergen also employed his signature square terra-cotta tiles, textured stucco siding and low, hipped rooflines. Twenty years later he designed a dining hall in a similar style. In the intervening years his work on the campus included a log field house and a remodeling of the original dining hall. Van Bergen’s aesthetic was ideally suited to the pastoral nature of the campus.

Declining enrollment and the economic downturn caused the school to enter into bankruptcy. The property is currently in foreclosure, for sale and vulnerable to demolition and division for new development. It is important to raise the profile of this idyllic campus in order to retain its natural features and its beautiful architecture.

 

What You Can Do

 

For more information on the property, contact

 

Sarosh Saher
City of Elgin
Planning Department
(847) 931-5943

Or the sales listing: www.hilcorealestate.com/property/properties.asp?client_id=274

 

Additional Links

 

Elgin Courier News

April 24, 2012

Prairie School architect John Van Bergen and
Chicago Junior School

John Van Bergen historian Marty Hackl will talk about the architecture and history of the Chicago Junior School in Elgin, its ties to Jane Addams, the city of Chicago, and the Christian Science Church with their progressive approach to education starting in the early 20th Century.
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
For more information, please go to: www.elginhistory.org/events.html

PrairieMod
March 13, 2012

Van Bergen buildings on site:

Main Building 1929

Bates Field House 1937

Dining Hall 1948

Allison Hall 1951

 

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

Landmarks Illinois
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Chicago, IL 60604 
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