Check out these unique destinations that reflect the genuine character of our region.
21596 River Road, Marengo, (815) 923-2267
After more than a century, Pringle School remains a cornerstone in Marengo. It was built in 1867 and was one of four one-room schoolhouses built along a trail that became River Road.
The interior of the school had benches that varied in heights to accommodate the students. The benches had no backing, helping to reinforce good posture. The tallest bench was for the older children, who sat in the back of the room. It was an advantage for them, since they could lean against the wall.
Books were hard to come by in those days, and even dictionaries often were not available.
Children of mostly Scottish settlers attended the school, which was then part of District 139. Student enrollment often fluctuated between 10 and 25 students ranging from their early years well into their teenage years, since there were no high schools at the time.
Pringle School operated until 1951. Three years later, the building was purchased by Melba Brewington, a Chicago connoisseur of antiques, art and glassware who lived in the old schoolhouse until her death in 1967. It was then purchased by the DiBona family of Marengo.
The McHenry County Historical Society acquired Pringle School from Laurie DiBona in 2002 and volunteers have taken on its restoration, with the purpose of restoring the structure back into a classroom. Work has included installing new flooring, repairing the plaster and redoing the roof.
Future projects include restoring the foyer and the classroom storage cubicles, as well as tuckpointing the limestone exterior.
Art in Public Places
Various locations in St. Charles, (630) 443-3794, StCharlesArtsCouncil.org
This effort by the St. Charles Arts Council (SCAC) not only catalogs and celebrates public art in St. Charles, but it invites everyone to see, learn about and enjoy the collection.
“It’s an inventory of public art,” says Elizabeth Bellaver, past-president of the St. Charles Arts Council. “We want to tell a story, as much as possible, for as much of the artwork as possible.”
Arts Council members believe St. Charles is a treasure trove of public art, with schools, businesses, parks and entities displaying public works in many media forms.
The project started with the Public Art Committee of the Downtown St. Charles Partnership. When that committee disbanded, members asked SCAC to continue their work. Since March 2016, more than 175 pieces of art have been inventoried.
The collection includes woodcut prints located in the St. Charles Public Library as well as sculptures that have immersive historic and cultural stories, such as “Ekwabet” at the east bank of the Fox River, “History of Transportation” at Midwest Groundcovers, or the “Wayfinders” ceramic totems at St. Charles East High School – a collaboration between students and professional artists.
“Some of the artwork was donated and some of the artwork in the schools is made by kids. The reasons for the artwork varies,” Bellaver says.
Map and explore the entire collection at ArtinPublicPlacesSTC.com.
Sycamore History Museum
1730 N. Main St., Sycamore, (815) 895-5762, sycamorehistory.org
This history museum serves as a proverbial time machine for Sycamore.
The museum features exhibits, research archives and a collection solely dedicated to the stories of Sycamore’s past. The museum shares Sycamore’s history with visitors while looking to the future by offering educational programs that help people realize their impact on the community.
“We have information about genealogy, materials about the house they live in and the information you need for a school project,” says Michelle Donahoe, executive director of the Sycamore History Museum. “We also have exhibit space and we change the exhibits every year.”
The museum hosts many events and programs for including the Historic Tour of Homes during Pumpkin Fest. There are also plenty of exhibits on display, since Sycamore’s history is a rich treasure of stories from the past 150 years. The exhibits are created to share those stories with visitors. They’re research-based, and complemented with programs to expand the exhibit themes.
The museum’s new exhibit, “Adventures To and From Sycamore,” connects Japan, Sweden, Mexico and other countries to Sycamore. It has four main themes: immigration, education, military and expeditions. The display also includes interactive maps, where you can discover brief stores about local residents who have “Adventures To and From Sycamore.”
“We work with audiences of all ages,” Donahoe says. “We deal with the little ones all the way to a 20-year retiree. ”