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Article updated: 12/12/2012 5:09 PM

District 2 brick sale offers piece of Bensenville history

By Elisabeth Mistretta

In response to requests from alumni and the community, Bensenville Elementary District 2 will sell bricks from the former Chippewa School this weekend during a fundraiser.

The building was torn down as part of District 2's merger of its four elementary schools into two. The historic building also served as Bensenville's first high school when it opened in 1927.

The sale runs from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at the rear of Tioga School, 212 W. Memorial Road. Each brick sells for $25 and comes with a plate engraved with the years the building served as a Bensenville Community High School, Blackhawk Junior High and Chippewa School.

District spokeswoman Terry Ryan said officials held focus groups on various aspects of the merger before it began, and at that point community members already expressed interest in owning a piece of the building.

She said the district also collected a mailing list of people wanting bricks during an all-school reunion last April.

"I think that building means a lot to many people in Bensenville, and many who grew up here, who want to keep that memory alive," Ryan said.

The building started as the home of Bensenville Community High School and operated until 1955 when Fenton High School opened. It was then used as Blackhawk Junior High for the next decade. From 1965 until this year, it was Chippewa School, serving students in third through fifth grades.

Today, those students are housed at the newly expanded Tioga School on the same block. Mohawk and Johnson schools also merged into an expanded Johnson building as part of the district's consolidation plan.

To extract the Chippewa bricks, District 2 hired a mason for proper preservation. The bricks will not only be used for this weekend's fundraiser, but Ryan said they also will be incorporated into future construction when they're placed in a wall of the cafeteria slated as part of another addition to Tioga.

Proceeds from this weekend's fundraiser will be used for a public art project dedicated to the Tioga and Chippewa legacies, Ryan said. While the project's focus is still undecided and she is searching for an artist to lead the way, the district will form a committee of parents this winter to help develop concepts, she said.

In addition, orders are being accepted for Tioga Legacy Plaza bricks. Community members can etch their family's name in stone as part of Tioga School Legacy Plaza in front of the school.

For more details, call Terry Ryan at (630) 766-5940, ext. 1105, or visit bsd2.org/bricks.

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