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Ridgefield School building celebrates its centennial

Published: Monday, March 31, 2014 1:41 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, March 31, 2014 11:28 p.m. CDT

CRYSTAL LAKE – The Ridgefield School building, originally a two-room school that served students from the surrounding farms throughout the 20th century, will celebrate its centennial April 27 with a free open house for the community.

The school, designated District 48, was built in 1914, at a time when there were more than 100 one- and two-room rural schools throughout McHenry County. It remained a public school until 1980 (consolidating into District 47 in 1973), when it closed due to falling enrollment.

Today, the 100-year-old building is home to McHenry County Jewish Congregation (MCJC), which bought it at public auction in 1981.

The April 27 centennial celebration will take place from 11am to 4pm at the Ridgefield School District 48 building, 8617 Ridgefield Rd., Crystal Lake.

Visitors can enjoy tours of the building and displays of historic photos and documents. Complimentary lunch will be available at noon. At 1pm, a panel of local historians will talkabout the era of rural schools in McHenry County and share stories about teaching in this building.

Speakers include Nancy Fike, former administrator of the McHenry County Historical Society, and Velma Dysart, former kindergarten teacher and principal of the Ridgefield School, as well as current members and high school students of MCJC.

“The old Ridgefield School building is a landmark from a time when McHenry County was nearly all farms, and every student was within a mile or so of the countryschool,” said Ellen Morton, executive director of MCJC. “But more than schools, these buildings also served as community centers, polling places and meeting houses. Today, the front part of the building remains much as it was 100 years ago, and it continues to serve as a school for MCJC’s students,” she said.

For moreinformation about the program, contact MCJC at 815-455-1810, email mcjcoffice@yahoo.com, or visit us online at www.mcjc-online.org and our Facebook page, “Friends of Ridgefield School District 48.”

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