- Editor’s Note: This article is part of a weekly series on Kane County’s amazing history. Today’s article was written by Tim Kirsininkas, marketing manager for the St. Charles History Museum. Images are courtesy of the St. Charles History Museum.
Since 1926, Thompson Middle School has stood tall as a proud monument of education at the corner of Main Street and Seventh Street in St. Charles. This year, students at the school will enter a brand-new and sleekly renovated building, complete with state-of-the-art classrooms and facilities.
But if you ask any older St. Charles resident who grew up in this community about their high school days, they’ll probably tell you tales of going to “the original” St. Charles High School at this location.
The school was approved for construction to replace the overcrowded Charles Haines School, which stood on the other side of the river across the street from the St. Charles Public Library. The new Thompson building was named for George E. Thompson, who served as the district superintendent for 40 years.
Over the decades, Thompson saw many change as generations of St. Charles students moved through its halls. Several additions to the building added a library, auditorium, music and science wings, a gymnasium, a football field and large grandstand.
Sports quickly became a major point of pride for the school, as the “Saints” made the state football rankings several times in the ’20s and ’30s, including a remarkable run at their new home in 1926, where the football team went 7-0, shutting out their opponent in every regular season game that year.
The Thompson building served as the community’s main high school until 1977, when the new facility on Dunham Road was constructed.
The move was originally criticized by students at the time, as the building lacked the unique “charm” of the original school, and administrators made the decision to switch from an open to a closed campus, preventing students from leaving during the course of the day.
After the switch, the Thompson building followed the same path as its predecessor and was converted into a middle school.
While Thompson this year will look very different, as a renovation project has allowed the school to take its next step into the future with glass walls, brightly lit rooms, projector screes, and new lockers, it is safe to say that the new sleek halls hold cherished memories for generations of students who grew up in St. Charles.
View The Pop-Up Exhibit
The St. Charles History Museum presents a unique look at the past stories of St. Charles schools in a temporary pop-up exhibit at Thompson Middle School outside of the main gymnasium!
The display featuring relics from the school’s past and from other area schools, including an 1800s teacher’s dress, original letterman jacket, and a drill team uniform, we available for viewing at the open-house event on Aug. 20.
Read The Kane County History Series!
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