Founded in 1858, Newberry School was the 11th elementary school in the young city and was named for Walter L. Newberry, real estate investor, banker and commission merchant, who donated the land at the corner of Willow and Orchard Streets, the same site the school sits on today. Newberry also generously donated $1,000, creating the Newberry fund. The annual interest on this fund provided books and materials for Newberry students who could not afford supplies.
Newberry School has been providing quality education to young Chicagoans since before the Civil War! Newberry School was one of only a few to survive the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and was used as a shelter and hospital for those made homeless by the fire. Notable alumni of Newberry include Charles Wacker, namesake of Wacker Drive and Chairman of the Chicago Plan Commission, champion of Daniel Burnham’s Plan of Chicago of 1909.
The first Newberry building was built in 1858. It was four stories high and made of brick. The first building and the addition to its right were torn down and replaced by the current building in 1937.
In 1858, the school had places for 1,440 students.
About 600 people sheltered inside Newberry for several days right after the Great Fire of 1871. Newberry did not burn in the fire.
Classes at Newberry were cancelled for a month after the Great Fire of 1871 so that the building could be used as a hospital for victims of the fire and housing for people who lost their homes in the fire.
The Chicago Board of Education named the school after Walter Loomis Newberry. He was a very successful businessman who sold the Board the land the school is on. He also donated money to the school during his life. He left money and instructions in his will to create the Newberry Library after his death.
Did you know …
Walter Loomis Newberry was born in 1804 in East Windsor, Connecticut and came to Chicago in 1833.
Chicago was incorporated as a city in 1837 and Newberry voted in its first mayoral election. William B. Ogden was running against John H. Kinzie. 709 votes were cast. Ogden won the election, despite Newberry voting for Kinzie.
In 1853 James H. Rees and E.E. Hundley built a hotel along the lake shore. The owners were standing on the portico trying to decide upon the name when Walter Newberry suggested ‘Lake View’ given its splendid unobstructed views of the lake. Lake View neighborhood is born.
In 1858, Walter L. Newberry either donated or sold the land at the corner of Orchard and Willow Streets for the school.
The original Newberry School had 23 rooms, including an assembly hall and could accommodate 1440 students. Designed by G.P. Randall, it was four stories high though there was no basement as sewers had not been constructed in that part of the city by then. The building cost $24,137 to build. The building was heated by stoves until 1872 when steam heat was provided.
In 1858 a Principal’s salary was $1,250 per annum, teachers made between $300 and $400 a year.
In 1858, Chicago had 11 salt dealers, 31 saddle and harness makers, 3 gun powder dealers, 3 gunpowder manufacturers, 10 gun and pistol dealers, 9 gunsmiths, 18 soap and candle makers, and there were 4 pickle warehouses.
In 1858 a ride in a hack or cab (horse-drawn) cost 50 cents for up to one mile for one person, an additional 25 cents for a second person. A ride on the Chicago and Milwaukee Railroad to Milwaukee cost $2.50.
In 1858 Chicago had 8 daily newspapers and 17 weekly newspapers.
In 1858 Stephen A. Douglas represented Illinois (a year before the famed Lincoln-Douglas debates) and John Logan (think Logan Square!) also represented Illinois in DC.
Walter Newberry died of tuberculosis while on a ship to Europe in November 1868. Since there was no refrigeration in those days, his body was preserved in a barrel of rum on the ship for the duration of the journey. He was buried in Chicago’s Graceland Cemetery.
Other historical happenings in 1858:
A rail link was built to connect Chicago to New York
Police uniforms were introduced in Chicago
Chicago got its first paid fire department
A scarlet fever epidemic started, which would kill over 1,200 people by 1863
The Lincoln-Douglas debates were held
Graduating class of 1931
Staff photo 1977-1978
Ms. Julie Heger, who taught at Newberry from 1969-2008, came to read with the 1st graders for their Fall Fest 2016
Curtis C. Meserve 1859 – 1865
Albert R. Sabin 1865 – 1870
Corydon G. Stowell 1870 – 1905 (worked up to the day of his death)
Caroline Strangham 1905 – 1908
Clarence O. Scudder 1908 – 1909
Edith Huegenin 1909 – 1912
Hays Dudley Grant 1912 – 1913 (January)
Albert Evans 1913 – 1914
Mary E. L. Fellows 1914 – 1932 (April)
Nora F. Doran 1932 – 1933
Mary Taylor 1933 – 1934
Alma Fick 1934 – 1938
no information for 1939
Harry S. Carr 1940 – 1947
no information for 1948
Alma Jones 1949 – 1954
no information for 1955
Russell Griffin 1956 – 1960
Dr. Mary A. Ransford 1961 – 1989
Clifton Burgess 1989 – 1994
Renaud Beaudoin 1994 – 2010
Linda Foley 2010 – present
Dr. Mary A. Ransford
Corydon G. Stowell
Mary E. L. Fellows
Russell A. Griffin
Renaud J. Beaudoin
All staff and students celebrating the 150th anniversary of our school in 2008
Staff photo in 2008
The Construction on the School Over Time
A front view of the school in 1937, just before it was to be torn down and reconstructed
Tearing down the old 1858 building
Article about the tearing down and reduiling of the school
Newberry during construction. The school had not officially opened yet.
An early image of the school in its 2nd year
Article about the school becoming overcrowded. This was just before the addition was made along Burling Street in 1959
Planning for the addition along Burling Street (circa 1957-1958)
Front of the school (circa early 1960s)
In 1958, Newberry School celebrated its 100th anniversary. This is a note written by Principal Griffin that same year to commemorate the event and look to the future.
On November 15, 1962, the Northtown Economist (in it’s 36th year of printing) released the City’s 10-year urban renewal plan for the Lincoln Park community. The Department of Urban Renewal determined that many parts of Lincoln Park were “under-parked” and laid out their phases for improving the neighborhood. Plans included widening sidewalks on North Avenue and Larabee and strings of new town houses. The article mentions Newberry School as the plan proposed the “entire frontage of Willow from Orchard to Larabee will go, to be replaced by a park.”
Plaque given to Walter L. Newberry Math & Science Academy as a gift from the Francis W. Parker graduating class of 2008
Celebrating the 150th Anniversary of Newberry
We are so thankful to have had a few of our retired teachers come back to participate in the annual Fall Fest activities! From left to right: Mrs. Harris, Mrs. Sakai-Furuta & Ms. Heger at Fall Fest 2015
1906 map of Newberry School
The ‘old’ Newberry School back in 1888. This photo of the school shows that the original 1858 building received an addition to accommodate to increased student enrollment
In the summer of 2016, Mr. Elmer Bauers visited Newberry. Mr. Bauers was a student in First Grade at Newberry in 1937, the year the school opened. He is photographed with Principal Linda Foley and Assistant Principal Edward Collins, who provided him a tour of the building.
Principal Stowell with Newberry School Staff photo from 1892
This 1931 reference book was to be used by any CPS Principal to understand which city ordinances applied to local public schools
The Chicago Tribune North Neighborhood News on February 25, 1965 featured Newberry School in its editorial on prominent Chicagoan Walter Loomis Newberry. Principal Mary Ransford is shown at the bottom with a student teacher. The editorial also discusses plans for new schools, as Lincoln Park was experiencing much overcrowding during these years. The article predates the renaming of Lincoln Park High School, as it still refers to it here as Waller High School.
The 1948-1949 school year was the first in which Newberry had a Parent-Teacher Association (now called the Newberry Parent-Teacher Organization)
The Parent-Teacher Association’s 1951 annual report to the school