Orland Park School, at 9960 West 143rd Street, has long been considered a local landmark in the village’s history. On Thursday, May 29, the building will officially join other local landmarks designated with historical signs explaining the building’s significance in the community’s history.
“We are very excited to add Orland Park School to the village’s landmark program” said Orland Park Mayor Dan McLaughlin. “This building has been an anchor of the Old Orland area for decades and is a very important part of the community’s history,” the mayor said.
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.
“Orland School District 135 is excited to be a part of the landmark designation for Park School,” said School Board President Joe La Margo. “We’ve had generations of families attend school in this building and it’s exciting to be able to share its important history with the landmark sign in front of the school,” he said.
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.
“I was part of the last graduating high school class in 1954, before Carl Sandburg High School opened,” said Gerry Klotz, Sr. “We had classes in different buildings in Old Orland and that was our Orland Park High School,” he said.
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.
Orland Park School joins other designated landmarks in the village’s program 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.
Village and school district officials will gather for a landmark dedication ceremony on Thursday, May 29 at 9:45 a.m. Attendees will include adults who attended the school as children as well as students currently attending the school.