In 1878, Germantown was known as one of the most "pretentious" hamlets in Worth Township. To quote, "Worth has no large towns or villages, but has two or three little places of public resort that might, without violence to the same, be termed hamlets. Of these, Germantown is the most pretentious. It consists of a tavern, a lager beer saloon, a grocery store, a blacksmith shop and a sawmill, and is on the state road, about six miles from Metamora. The Germantown House (tavern) was built in 1850 by William Hosher. Hosher also built the Union House, which is a tavern one mile east of Germantown." The old state road (Rt. 116), which ran from Peoria through Germantown (now Germantown Hills), was a part of the law circuit that Abraham Lincoln rode as a lawyer. Mr. Lincoln rode past the old Germantown Inn and the Union House Inn.
"The first school of which we can get any record was taught by a Mr. Ellmore at a very early day, in Squire Williams' barn. He stayed a great deal at Mr. Williams, making it a kind of home, and while there, taught this school, which is supposed to be the first in the township, and among the first taught in the county. The first schoolhouse in the town was built in the neighborhood or Mr. Hall's, years ago, so long that the site is forgotten. Hosher built a log schoolhouse at Germantown in 1851 which, after being used many years, was replaced by the present frame building, the best schoolhouse in the township, in 1876, and cost $1,000." (quoted exerpts from the 1878 Woodford County History.)
In 1878, there were 324 students attending school in all of Worth Township. There were four male and two female teachers. They were paid a grand total of $1,600 for the school year.
The original 1876 structure went through several modifications over the years. A basement was added and a hot lunch program instituted. A four-room frame addition was put on in 1940.
In 1950, the school enrollment was 60, and four teachers were employed. Enrollment for the 2000-01 school year was approximately 775 students, with 95 faculty or staff employed. On December 8, 1953, at 3:40 p.m., the 1876 school was destroyed by fire, and consequently the complete frame structure had to be razed. A new three-room building had been completed in 1950, so half-day sessions were used until additional facilities could be completed.
Additional rooms were added in 1952, 1954, 1960, and 1970. *Photos below are from a 1954 "School Memories" booklet found in storage. The booklet also had an area to collect autographs from friends & teachers!
View from Rt. 116 (front of school is out of view on left *(Pre 1960 when foyer/gym addition was built)Maynard Durst provided the first bus service to students*School Cafeteria - basement corner room(this room was later a kindergarten)*To help alumni get your bearings, this diagram shows the main entrance to the foyer. The circle drive entrance would be bottom right and exit left side of photo"The Playground" along the side of the building pre-gymnasium. Rt 116 is just out of sight on the right. The white home was where the soccer fields are now. The farm land behind the school & house, owned at the time by Maynard Durst, was eventually purchased by the district to make room for another new addition and to expand the playground out behind the school rather than alongside the highway.Mr. Raymond V. Combs, Principal/SuperintendentLittle known fact: The Middle School's "real" name has always been "R.V. Combs Middle School" in dedication of his 30+ years of service to the district. The name was never used; however a bronze plaque in the middle school lobby serves as a reminder.
Unprecedented home construction in the Germantown Hills school district posed long term problems for the Board of Education in terms of pupil growth and area for future school needs. In 1977, the Germantown Hills school district residents voted on, and passed, by a large majority, a $475,000 bond issue to build a new junior high school and the school board purchased twenty-eight acres of land to construct a $1,500,000 junior high school, which has now expanded to the entire K-8 campus. On Sunday, August 24, 1980, the new junior high school building was officially dedicated and named the R.V. Combs School, in honor of former Superintendent Raymond V. Combs. Mr. Combs served the district for thirty years (1950-1980) as superintendent.
The summer of 1982 marked the completion and dedication of a major project jointly undertaken by the school district and the Germantown Hills Athletic Association. Five new baseball/softball fields, complete with chain link fencing, were used for the first time. The estimated cost of this project was $40,000. The three fields at the elementary school were named in honor of Charles Nordbusch, former school board member and long time booster in the Athletic Association.
Following a recession in the early 1980's, home construction rebounded in the Germantown Hills area beginning about 1986. With the new home construction also came additional students. Because of the increase in student population, from 500 in 1986 to 610 at the end of the 1988-89 school year, it was necessary to have additional classroom space to accommodate the student growth. In November 1989, voters approved a referendum for the addition of five classrooms on to what was then the junior high school building. At the same time the library was expanded, additional restrooms were installed, and a storage area on the north end of the building was added. The construction began April 1, 1990, and was completed August 1, 1990.
At the same time the additional classrooms were added, the fifth grades were moved from the old elementary building to the junior high school building, and the building was changed from a junior high school to a middle school for grades 5 - 8. On August 21, 1990, school opened with a record enrollment of 680 students in grades K-8. During the early 1990's new home construction in the Germantown Hills School District continued at a rapid pace. With the new home construction came additional students into the district. The additional students meant increased in classroom enrollment sizes. In April of 1993, voters approved a bond referendum to add six (6) classrooms, a kitchen addition, and a multi-purpose room onto the middle school to help alleviate large class sizes. The classroom project began in September of 1993, and was completed during the summer of 1994. Students first started using the classrooms on August 23, 1994.
Student enrollment of the 2001-02 school year stood at 799. New subdivisions in the school district continued to add students to the district's enrollment. Kindergarten pre-enrollment for the 2002-03 school year was over 100 students for the first time in the school district's history. Due to continued community growth, on August 24, 2004, a fifteen room (25,920 sq. ft.) addition was opened at the middle school building. Grade levels were re-configured so that grades 3 & 4 were moved from the old elementary building to the middle school building. Grades Pre-K through 2nd remained at the elementary building. As houses continued to be built, the district's enrollment continued to go up, causing yet another addition to be planned and built at the middle school. An additional ten classrooms, restrooms, an office area, band room, and 1,000 capacity gymnasium are the most recent additions to the district, having been opened in August 2007 as our district student enrollment approached 1,000. In March of 2008, the new gymnasium was officially dedicated and name the Joseph D. Stieglitz Gymnasium in honor of the retiring superintendent and his 31 years of service.
Most recently, due to the age of the old elementary building, it was decided to add yet another addition on the site of what was originally the junior high. This addition would create a wing for Pre-K through 2nd grade, enabling all students to be on the same campus. The building houses a state-of-the-art media center/library, dedicated to Mr. Stephen G. Nauman, who served as school board president for over 20 years. Classrooms are arranged in wings to accomodate a variety of schedules, student movement throughout the building, and student safety. Although the district has grown from a tiny four-room school house into a K-8 Campus with approximately 800 students, our purpose remains the same: to help our children learn in their own way, at their own pace, in a loving & nurturing environment.
**Originally written by JD Stieglitz; edit J Dansart; edit/photos JL Wilmarth