4198 7th Avenue, Rock Island
After several years of debate—and inclusion on Landmarks Illinois’ 2007 Most Endangered Historic Places list—the Rock Island-Milan School District has agreed to retain and renovate this 1934 Tudor-style elementary school. When the district announced in 2004 it would be closing several neighborhood schools, there was huge public protest. In addition to not recognizing the architectural importance of Longfellow to its surrounding neighborhood, the school district had not considered the impact of closing a school in a central location to which students can walk everyday.
The Keystone Neighborhood Association organized a Friends of Longfellow School committee that sponsored a letter writing campaign, resident surveys, and workshops for residents and public officials to discuss the importance of retaining neighborhood schools. Due to their grassroots efforts, the Keystone Neighborhood Association and the Friends of Longfellow School and hundreds of residents were able to persuade the school board to retain the building and construct a new addition for 150 extra students. The board also has agreed to consider “neighborhood-based locations” as part of future school planning.
Every year, Illinois loses several architecturally significant schools statewide, which are replaced due to consolidation, deferred maintenance, and misguided planning. With several other organizations, Landmarks Illinois is participating in a “Sustainable Schools in Illinois” study, led by the Illinois Lieutenant Governor’s office and funded by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Environmental Protection Agency.
For more information on this effort, please go to: www.standingupforillinois.org/school
(credit: Landmarks Illinois)