Community gets last chance to tour old May Whitney school before demolition

  • The old May Whitney Elementary School building was once Ela Township High School. The building will be demolished in early 2022. Lake Zurich School District 95 is offering tours of the old building to the public so people can have one last look.

    The old May Whitney Elementary School building was once Ela Township High School. The building will be demolished in early 2022. Lake Zurich School District 95 is offering tours of the old building to the public so people can have one last look. Daily Herald file photo

 
 
Updated 11/9/2021 6:21 AM

Lake Zurich community members will be offered a final chance to walk through the empty halls of the old May Whitney Elementary School building, parts of which have stood for nearly a century, before the building is demolished early next year.

Free tours of the old building will be led by district officials from 3 to 7 p.m. on Thursday and Monday. Vicky Cullinan, the district's assistant superintendent of business and operations, said the district has seen former students and staff members of all ages sign up so far.

 

Of the 600 slots available for the two days of tours, about 200 have already been taken.

"We look forward to giving the community this last opportunity to see the inside of the building and hearing their stories as they walk through the space," Cillinan said.

The building has been empty since its $43.4 million successor next door was completed. While the new May Whitney Elementary features thoughtful designs to enhance learning, the old building wasn't originally designed to facilitate education for younger students.

Built as a high school in 1929, the large two-story, brick masonry building with a basement was converted into a middle school after Lake Zurich High School opened in 1974, and then an elementary school after Middle School North opened in 2004. The building had additions over the years to facilitate a growing and changing student body.

Cullinan said all that's left for workers to do is asbestos abatement before the building can come down. That work will be done by the end of the year.

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In early January, the fire and police departments will be given an opportunity to use the building for training exercises, Cullinan said.

Cullinan said workers will preserve some of the building's bricks as well as the black stone facade at the main entrance, the building's dedication plaques and the limestone architectural elements at the original entrance to the 1929 building.

Also, the district will donate some maps and materials from the building to the Ela Historical Society.

The building will be demolished in late January or February. After the building comes down, the district will expand the existing parking lot and add a new play field for students.

To register for a tour, visit lz95.org.

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