Springfield Journal Register, date of paper which originally published the following is unknown.
(Photograph courtesy of State Historical Library)
RECALLING THE RIDGELY SCHOOL AS IT APPEARED IN 1903 --
Remember that old line from Shakespeare about "the schoolboy, with his satchel and shining morning face,
creeping like snail unwillingly to school"? Only a few days more of vacation and then back to the classrooms
for thousands of Springfield kids! Out in the far North End, just this side of the State Fair Grounds, hundreds will be wending their way to
the Ridgely School on North 8th between Cleveland and Percy Avenues. That building is the remodeled and enlarged version of the original
Ridgely School, shown above as it looked in 1903. This original building was erected in 1900, damaged by fire in 1916 and immediately
rebuilt and remodeled. The first principal in that period was J. Orville Taylor, Sr.; the second, G. Warren Taylor, in whose incumbency the town of
Ridgely (built up around the old rolling mills and named for N. H. Ridgely, pioneer banker here)
was annexed to Springfield (1907) and the Ridgely School was taken into the city school system. Subsequent principals were J. M. Humer, I. M. Brock,
F. E. Kennedy, J. C. Gannon, Bruce Wheeler, J. W. Cavitt, J. Harry Winstrom and the present incumbent - F. R. Siefferman. Among the
early teachers well remembered were: Minnie M. Knox, Ida Comstock, Gertrude Selby, Edith Rockwell, Mae Carver, Clara Kunz (McLaughlin),
Nellie M. Ingram. We are told that the School had eight rooms, a principal's office and an auditorium - added a little later. The boys'
playground was on the north side, the girls had the south side to themselves, and the "neutral" territory in front was kept well grassed. The town of Ridgely had
maintained a school for many years prior to this building, we are told. One story is that it was located on this same site; another
that it was just inside the Fair Grounds at 11th and Sangamon Avenue, in the building occupied by the Fair Grounds
custodian in later years.
I attended Ridgley for all 8 grades from 1939-1946. The front of the school looked much as it did in the picture. When you walked inside there was a beautiful wooden floor that ran all the way through the building and out the back door. There were two stories of classrooms off this floor. They were on either side of wooden floor and there was a lovely staircase at either end of the building so that you could get to all the upstairs classrooms. If it was raining or snowing the center wooden floor was a Gym. The main thing I remember was the fire escape.
It was a long tube of metal which you slid down from the second floor in a circular fashion. Lots of fun before Theme Parks. Of course by the time I went there, Ridgley was part of Springfield. It was just outside of the State Fairgrounds by a couple of blocks. I walked to school from the North side of the fairgrounds sometimes but most of the time my mother had to take me there. No school buses then. I have very pleasant memories of that school and since I have always liked old buildings, I though the old building was great.
Submitted by: Carolyn Campbell Sloan
Article Submitted by: Jeanie Lowe.