Buena Vista to celebrate 95th birthday Oct. 11
Former students invited to attend

       The 95th anniversary of Buena Vista Elementary will be celebrated Wednesday, Oct. 11 with a small ceremony after school, from 3 to 4 p.m.
       According to Principal Brenda Smith, District 11 Superintendent Terry Bishop, Deputy Superintendent Mary Thurman and former principal Alan Rasmussen will attend the school's “rededication.”
       Activities will include the reading of a local newspaper article, dated Dec. 7, 1911, about the public school after it opened, and the dedication of a bench in honor of Rasmussen, whose term (1988-2005) was the longest of the 20 principals Buena Vista has had over the years. Refreshments will be served.
       Any school alumni are welcome to come. Smith said she would appreciate it if such folks would contact her in advance so they can be recognized. The Buena Vista phone is 328-4100.
       With its “cottage-style” layout, Buena Vista was at the cutting edge of school design when it opened (replacing an earlier school by that name at the same site). At the time, it had a main building with four cottages - two on either side. A 1912 article from the Chicago-based Technical World Magazine - retained among school memorabalia - gushed that the concept had proven so successful after its first year that “a revolution in school building seems likely to result.”
       The initial idea was to have a separate grade level in each cottage, with a main building consisting of the principal's office and an auditorium. Other advantages touted in the magazine and newspaper articles included natural lighting, safety enhancements, a nearness to nature, avoidance of contagion, no stairs and even the transportability of the cottages themselves.
       For reasons unexplained in school files, the cottage style went out of favor over time. The main building was drastically renovated, adding a second floor and turning the auditorium space into classrooms. The two cottages to the west were combined and altered into a more traditional single building with several classrooms and a gym. The two cottages to the east look much the same as they did originally, but are now joined in the middle.
       “The only guess I have is that the school needed more room,” Smith said, when asked why the cottage approach was abandoned. A modern issue would be security, which would be more difficult with several outlying buildings. “Times have changed,” she said.

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