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History of Hawthorn

Our local schools owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Samuel Insull, who in the early 1900s was one of the nation’s most well-known and powerful businessmen. As his wealth grew, Mr. Insull purchased land along Milwaukee Road, which eventually became home to the estate and mansion that was completed in 1914, and which is now known as Cuneo Mansion.

When Mr. Insull’s holdings encompassed the property of John Locke, Libertyville’s first Village President, he also took possession of a deteriorating Locke School. Mr. Insull took it upon himself to build the first Hawthorn School on land near the family’s home. Some say the school’s name came from Hawthorn trees he imported to remind him of home in England. Most of the first Hawthorn students were from families who worked the estate’s fields. Mr. Insull sent a horse and wagon to collect the children who lived farthest from the school. Classes were taught in English and German. That school was torn down in the 1990s.

In 1924, local voters from three separate one-room schools (Coon, Butterfield and Hawthorn) decided to consolidate their resources into Hawthorn District 73, forming one of the oldest districts in the state. Mr. Insull also donated the land for the new Hawthorn school building, a state-of-the-art four-room brick building constructed along what is now Route 60. At that time, the school served about 30 students in first through fourth grades.

That building was well used for nearly 80 years. After numerous modifications and additions, the building was torn down in 2004 to make way for Townline Elemetary and the Hawthorn School of Dual Language. As the wrecking ball was poised to demolish the building, members of the Hawthorn Preservation Committee recalled the existence of a WPA mural in one of the classrooms. The 1937 mural, entitled “Children’s Stories,” was saved, restored and reinstalled in Townline building.

Today’s Hawthorn is comprised of six different school buildings serving approximately 4000 students attending kindergarten through 8th grade.