Leaves gently tumbled to the ground in the pleasant fall breeze as about 70 people gathered to witness the Geneva school district honoring its past Saturday, as it renamed its headquarters for beloved former superintendent Harry M. Coultrap.
The offices at 227 N. Fourth St. are now the Coultrap Educational Services Center. The offices have been in the former Fourth Street Elementary School for years. The renaming makes up somewhat for the district's tearing down of Coultrap Elementary School this summer. School board Vice President Kelly Nowak talked about Coultrap's history and dedication to the school district, and Superintendent Kent Mutchler stated, "His memory will truly live on in this school district."
Harry M. Coultrap was superintendent for 38 years, from 1912 to 1950. During his tenure, four schools were opened including Geneva High School in 1923, which was later changed to Coultrap Junior High in 1958 and then renamed again as Coultrap Elementary School in 1996.
Two of Coultrap's grandchildren, siblings Paul Coultrap of Downers Grove and Martha Coultrap of New York City, were a part of the ceremony. They said a few words and shared a few stories and also helped open the school's time capsule, dating from 1922. Their cousin, Ellen Frech of Palatine, was also present.
Inside the time capsule was a letter of resolution from what was then called Geneva Community High School District No. 149, a 1922 Geneva High School yearbook, a copy of a local newspaper dated Aug. 11, 1922, and three silver coins.
Coultrap's grandchildren then unveiled the new sign for the building, which was created from bricks of the razed elementary school. A brick pathway leading to the adjacent flagpole was also made with the building's remains.
"This day is very special to me and the rest of the Coultrap family," said Martha Coultrap. "We're so honored that Geneva decided that it was important to continue my grandfather's legacy, and I think he would be particularly proud or interested that this is the educational services center because lifelong learning was so important to him, and he instilled that in all of us -- we're really quite touched."
Paul Coultrap said of his grandfather, "He had a vision for the schools and the city which he loved so much."
Martha Coultrap added she was surprised that the interest in their grandfather continues to this day. "It's really touching."
Martha Coultrap was present when her grandfather spoke at the 1958 dedication and again when the building was rededicated as Coultrap Middle School in 1969. Paul Coultrap was present when the building was rededicated the final time as an elementary school in 1996.