School History

The first school in Lewistown was taught in a log court house erected in 1823. A small brick church, first used to house the Presbyterian congregation in 1836 - and later sold to the Methodists, was later to be known as the East Primary School, for the first and second grades. In March of 1864, the people of the school district, voted to build a new school at a cost of $10,000. Work began on June 23, 1865 and was completed on October 22, 1866. Fulton Seminary - a Methodist Episcopal School, was incorporated in 1855, with a four story building, completed in 1857. It was located in the east part of town, now known as Kohncke's addition. It's purpose - was to "establish under healthful and Christian auspices a seminary of learning of the highest degree, which should afford the sons and daughters of the more wealthy - an education as thorough and accomplished as the most exclusive in the country!" By a vote of 128 to 6 - the voters approved a one story building. The West Primary School in 1884 - at a cost of $1,500. It was abandoned in 1895, upon completion of the Baldwin School on South Main Street. The Baldwin School was approved in a special election held in 1895 - and named in honor of Mrs. Emma Baldwin, an outstanding primary teacher. The building cost approximately $10,000. The graduating class of 1875 consisted of three students - all girls. Most of the early graduates were girls. The classes of 1880 and 1883 had one graduate each, both female. Two girls graduated in 1891. In 1892 the number of graduates began to increase each year, with the Class of 1928 having the largest number of graduates to that date - 26 boys, and 26 girls. In March of 1929 - the first Annual Honor Day was held. It consisted of 'A', Scholarship letter awards, Honor Roll list five times during the school year; 'B', Harold Osborne Cup Award, Athletic letter winner with the highest scholastic average for the school year; and 'C', The National Athletic Scholarship Society Awards. In 1933, school bus transportation was provided, and students from Bryant, Dunfermline and St. David enrolled. Two graduates became world famous, American Author and Poet, Edgar Lee Masters, of the class of 1886, and Lila Acheson Wallace, Co-Editor of the Readers Digest, class of 1907. Although not a graduate - a world famous athlete, Harold M. Osborne - of Butler, Illinois began his teaching career in Lewistown High School in 1921. He won both the decatholon, and running high jump championships at the Paris Olympic Games, in Paris France in 1924. He set new world records in the running high jump. He married Margaret Bordner,- a former Lewistown girl and LHS graduate. In 1927 Osborne presented his trophy cup to Lewistown High School - to the athletic winner with the highest scholastic average for the school year. The students name was to be engraved on the cup. This was to be an annual event. The first recipient was Arthur Taylor of the LHS class of 1928. This presentation has been a tradition every year since 1928. 1940 - was the year that we sent a basketball team to the state basketball tournament in Champaign. The team members were; James Jackson, Alan Jackson, Harry Wilcoxen, Mike Naden, Tony Butkovich, Robert Gallinger, Donald Ford, Robert Watson, Joe Radosevic and Bill Fithian. Managers of the team were; Al Wilson, Dean Ford and Raymond Williams. The cheer-leaders were; Rosalie Higgins, Shirley Higgins and Norma Jean Mayberry. The team coach was George Dertinger. In the first game Lewistown defeated Hebron, 31 to 30, but the glory was short lived, because, in the second game Lewistown was defeated by Moline, 47 to 32. In those days, before radio and television coverage, the towns-people who did not go to the game, were able to gather in the school gymnasium, and listened to the game relayed to there by telephone and amplified over a loud speaker. The depression years followed by World War 2, caused a lot of students to drop out of school, to either work, or to help support the families, or to enter the service, There have been many students from LHS and LCHS - who gave their lives in service to their country. Many students received their education in later years - graduating through the General Education Test - GED. In 1943, a Community High School District was formed to take in surrounding communities. At that time, Lewistown had a very talented musical director, Robert Jorgenson, who taught music in both High and Grade school. It became apparent for the need of a school song. The old song "Cardinal Red and Blue" - was changed to a new song set to music from "Washington and Lee Swing" - Mr. Jorgenson composed the words to the song. Also, at that time - District 141 Lewistown Elementary School, hired as superintendent, Mr. Howard Munroe Leinbaugh. And District 341 - Lewistown Community High School - hired Mr. H.B. Carlock as Superintendent. During the 1947 - 1948 school year - LCHS inaugurated a Drivers Education Program, sponsored by the Chicago Motor Club. LCHS was the first school in Fulton County to have the relatively new course and among the first (50) in the State of Illinois. The first car was a new Ford - six cylinder, on loan from the Doyle Miller Ford Agency in Lewistown. Stanley Mason was the first instructor. The LCHS Class of 1951 - was the first class to graduate from the Lewistown Community High School, that ever attended the new J. J. McNally School, this school was completed in 1939, to take over the elementary grades. The year 1951 - also holds more memories as that was the year that Mr. Keith Parry came to Lewistown school system, replacing H.B. Carlock as Superintendent of LCHS. In 1953 the high school on McArthur was expanded with the addition of a Vo-Ag shop, class rooms, lobby and a new music room. The construction of the additional class-rooms was discussed earlier and the price for the addition came to $75,000. It was postponed until the following year, and the price for the new addition came to $95,000. This addition soon became inadequate with the abolishment of the non-high-school territories which consisted of Liverpool, Bryant, St. David and Dunfermline. The law passed for the abolishment of non-high school territories, stated, that in order for a student to enter a high school district, the territories must must have an adjacent border. In some cases the other territories do not have an adjacent border with Lewistown High School District, but a special enactment - permitted the students to attend LCHS as many of them already attended LCHS for many years, due to the fore-thought of some people and the earlier busing of these students of Lewistown High School. In December 1958, a school bond referendum was passed for construction of a NEW high
school. The site of the new school was chosen at the north end of town on land owned by Earl Pittman, of Lewistown and Leroy Davis of St. David. A total of 25 and a third acres was purchased. 25 from Mr. Pittman at a cost of $1500 an acre and $1,800 per acre, purchased from Mr. Davis.
  The bond issued was for $l,049,000.00, and to this figure was added the money from the sale of the old high school to the Grade School District, for a total of $151,000.00 to which was added a total of $70,000.00 from interest bearing bonds, with the total cost approximately $1,300,000.00 for the building and contents. Construction was started by the laying of the corner stone by Mr. Orville Janes President of the board of education, at that time. In 1960, an organization was formed at LCHS. It was the Spoon River Chapter of The National Honor Society. It was innaugerated May 10th, 1960, at the old High School, in an impressive candle light ceremony conducted by the officers and directors of the Canton Chapter. On the third Friday of March of 1961. the move was made to the new building, without interruption to classes. The Class of 1961, was the first class to attend the new high school, and graduated three months later, in May of 1961. Being the first class to attend as Seniors, a large boulder or rock was placed at the entrance to the new school. It was to be an annual tradition. The Class of 1965 was the first class to attend all four years at the new building, and graduate from there as well. The old high school was demolished in June of 1980, making way for the new Spoon River Towers that stands in the location now. Prior to the building of the Towers, the old school was used for Central Grade School, until the new grade school was built near Avenue 'L''. For a short time the old High school served as the Tribal Center - a recreational facility for the townspeople. It was very short lived. It was then, that 'Poke' Kenzel of Canton was contracted to tear the old building down.
  In 1996, a special series of public meetings and hearings were held prior to placing a consolidation question on the ballot to consolidate School Districts 341 and 141, and as well Prichard Clark and St. David. The referendum passed in the Spring of 1996, and the consolidation took place in the fall of 1997. Lewistown Community Unit School District #97 was the result of the consolidation. Lewistown Central was remodeled to accommodate the new students.The McNally Elementary School proved to be getting too old for the students in the late 1990's. A new elementary addition was added on to Central School on Avenue "L". The new addition was open for the 2000-2001 school year and the old elementary was turned into New Horizons, an alternative school for students with special needs. From fall of 2001 - fall of 2004, the high school was slowly remodeled. New windows were installed in the classrooms and hallways. The old office area was completely torn out and a new office was built where the old offices stood. The school was fitted with central air-conditioning after having no air-conditioning for all of its years. The football and track field saw the addition of a new ticket booth entrance building. An overhang was put over the concession stand area. New bleachers were installed at the football field and a new concession stand/announcer tower was built at the baseball field. The inside halls of the school  were also newly painted. As of the 2004 - 2005 school year, Lewistown High School is a school with strong curriculum, organizations, and sports. Lewistown High School looks towards the future and many years to come and go along the sands of time.

1st Lewistown High School