The History of River Forest
The village of River Forest
is located in Cook County and is one of the suburbs that has Chicago as a border. River Forest is accessible from Illinois
Route 43 (Harlem Avenue) and Illinois Route 64 (North Avenue), as well as Interstate 290 (the Eisenhower Expressway). The
town has an historical feel to it and is an Illinois Main Street Community.
Education in River Forest dates back to 1850
in a school located on Lathrop and Lake Streets. A new school was built in 1859, which was where the high school was taught
in beginning in 1890. This school, called the Harlem School, took in students from River Forest, Maywood, Forest Park, and
the western part of Oak Park, which was called Harlem.
Much of the high school portion of the school's
history in mainstream medium has not been documented, and when it was, it was mentioned as an afterthought. Bell's 1938 history
of River Forest goes into greater detail than books of it's time regarding former high schools.
According to the book, a man by the name of
Henry Clarke became the head of the River Forest school district, and started a high school the next year in the Harlem building.
This school was a four-year course until 1894, and thus there were only two graduates of the high school. They were Henry
Todd Richards and Marion Barton. Afterward, the school only had a two-year curriculum. The reason for the move to two years
came with a new superintendent, John E. Adams.
After the first two years were completed, students
had a choice to attend either Oak Park High School or Austin High School (Note: at that time Austin was it's own city
and was annexed into Chicago in the 1900s). This new version of the school continued until 1899, when a merger of the
Oak Park and River Forest schools (“OPRF”) was realized.
The new merger, however, came with controversy.
River Forest and Oak Park are located in two different townships in the county. The decision to merge the schools required
a decision by the courts. Most River Forest students went to Austin until 1900, when all River Forest students went to Oak
Chicago's suburbs began to grow during the early
Nearly 50 years after River Forest lost its high school, residents wanted their own high school district. In 1946, a new district
was created for River Forest, and high school students attended OPRF on tuition payed in part by the district until a high
school building could be built. However, by 1949, a site could not be found and the effort was abandoned altogether.
The Harlem school still stands proudly, and
is still used as a school today.
River Forest High School "Quick
Year closed: 1899
unknown if existent
School Colors: unknown if existent
still used as a school
Seeking More Information
What we have here are the historical basics of the school.
However, there is much more to history than facts and dates. Memories are often tie in to the history of the school, especially
for one with a short timespan like River Forest. We are always looking for historical pictures, any athletic and extra-curricular
information, and even students of the school if possible.
You can always add more about the history of
the River Forest High School by dropping us a line via E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org - or regular mail at the following address:
Illinois High School Glory Days
6439 N. Neva St.
Chicago, IL 60631