15th Street and Wabash Avenue
Historical profile by Elizabeth A. Patterson
One of Chicago’s earliest substantial works of school architecture stood at the corner of what is now 15thStreet and Wabash Avenue. It was named for early Chicago Board of Education President Luther Haven. Designed by Vermont-born Chicago architect Gurdon Randall, who was then known throughout the Midwest for his institutional buildings, the Haven School opened in September of 1862, with accommodations for 756 students. The structure’s red brick walls, punctuated by tall, limestone-hooded windows, rose three stories above a raised stone basement. Narrow, buttress-like appendages ran from top to bottom, masking ventilation stacks. A high attic was tucked beneath a gambrel-dormered slate mansard roof. Each of the three main floors held four classrooms, while the high-ceilinged-attic comprised two larger rooms, one an assembly hall, and one a girls’ gymnasium. Though Randall himself described his Haven School as being of “plain Americo-Italian style,” the Board of Education boasted in its 1862 Annual Report that:
“The Haven School building…is a beautiful specimen of school architecture, and,… it is safe to say that this house is not surpassed by any school building in the country.”
Despite these accolades for Randall’s Haven School, the Board of Education ordered its demolition only two decades later. A new, much larger and more flamboyant, building designed by official Board Architect John J. Flanders took its place in 1884. The new Haven School stood four stories over a raised basement. Executed in rusticated stone and pressed brick, the building featured a prominent oriel window over the arched main entrance. Ornate Flemish gables capped the portion of the structure nearest the street. The school, which held 24 classrooms, recitation rooms,a small library, and a fourth floor assembly hall, could accommodate 1,400 students. Flander’s Haven School building remained in use until 1974, when it was closed due to low enrollment. It was later demolished, and the former school lot is now the site of Coliseum Park.