The History of Kenilworth Rugby School for Boys
The History of Kenilworth Babcock School for Young Ladies and Children
Kenilworth (population 2,494) is located in far northeastern Illinois in the northeastern
portion of Cook County. Lake Michigan is the town's eastern border. The largest roadways to and from Kenilworth
include Sheridan Road, Green Bay Road, Ridge Road, and Lake Avenue. Kenilworth is a north suburb of Chicago sitting just 17
miles north of the downtown Chicago area.
Kenilworth has a very storied history of education for its children. High school and advanced education
dates back to even before the town was officially incorporated. A web page (http://www.kenilworth.k12.il.us/district/history.htm) on the history of Kenilworth schools states the following:
"When Mrs. Babcock's School for Young Ladies and Children moved to Kenilworth from Chicago in 1891, Kenilworth
became one of the few places where women were provided with educational facilities before men. But shortly thereafter, the
Rugby School for Boys, modeled on the Phillip Exeter plan, was also founded. Each provided the elements of a good education
and focused on the moral and physical needs of each student so that they might develop strong character. Each offered courses
in mathematics, history, literature, chemistry, physics, Latin, French and German. Mrs. Babcock's girls were instructed in
cooking and the Rugby boys in the manual arts of drawing and woodworking.
"Athletics were important as well with fencing and dancing taught to the girls and a variety of other sports
taught to the boys. Both schools closed in 1904. Mrs. Babcock's school closed due to her declining health. While the main
reason for closing the Rugby school is not recorded, some say the tragic fire in 1903 at the Iroquois Theater in Chicago,
which resulted in the death of many Rugby students, was responsible for the closing.
Babcock and Rugby schools.....provided a strong, well-rounded education for the children of Kenilworth."
Though relatively short-lived, the history of these two schools and what they meant to the early growth of
what was then a small village should not be forgotten.