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'A Great Day' as Park School Dedicated as Landmark

A longstanding school in Orland Park has achieved landmark status, and was honored during an unveiling ceremony Thursday, May 29.

Orland Park Mayor Dan McLaughlin and District 135 Board President Joe LaMargo unveil the landmark sign.
Orland Park Mayor Dan McLaughlin and District 135 Board President Joe LaMargo unveil the landmark sign.
Marilyn Sinclair can still smell the limestone when she steps into the Orland Park School gymnasium.

It brings her back to evenings spent rollerskating until 10 p.m., then traipsing home without a care in the world. Things were different back then, says the 69-year-old instructional services secretary at Orland Park School District 153. 

"Things were simpler," said Sinclair, who attended the school from 1950–1958. "Life is so challenging for kids now."

Memories swelled over Sinclair, as she waited for a purple cloak to be lifted from a sign designating the beloved school—her school—a local historical landmark.

"It was heartwarming," Sinclair said. "I got a little weepy."

Orland Park Mayor Dan McLaughlin, District 135 School Board President Joe LaMargo and other officials gathered Thursday surrounded by blue on the students and in the trees to unveil the sign designating the school a local landmark. Current students sang of their love for the school, as well as offered up hand-painted rocks denoting each decade of the school's past, for the rock garden at the base of the sign.

The school is added to a list of other designated landmarks, including the home of Orland Park’s first mayor, John Humphrey; the Twin Tower Sanctuary of the former United Methodist Church; the first home built in Orland Park and the home of the village’s third mayor, Harry Cox; the Stellwagen Farm; Orland State Bank at 14316 Beacon; and at the Folk Victorian building at 14330 Beacon Ave now home to Anna B's Antiques.

Orland Park School, which was once a one room school house at 9771 West 143rd Street, was built in 1922 in the Prairie Style with Georgian Revival features. The building was constructed by Alfred F. Pashley. 

Located in the heart of Old Orland, the building was the center of community life at one time. In the 20s and the 30s, the school boasted the “best infield in the state,” according to the late Village Trustee Harley Uthe. The property later hosted high school sports, the firemen’s carnival and water ball competitions among area fire departments. Longtime Orland Park residents remember attending high school at the 143rd Street building.

The adjacent Joliet limestone gymnasium, built by James Pomeroy, was constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1940 and is a rare building for this region. The horizontal emphasis typifies Prairie Style while symmetry, accented entrances, pediments, fanlights and sidelights illustrate Georgian Revival. 

"Students, I want you to always remember today, and that you were here when we celebrated your school," LaMargo said during the ceremony, "when you go past this building later in life, when you're in high school, or as an adult, you can probably say, 'I was there when they made my Orland Park School a landmark. I was part of history.'"

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