Schoolhouse History

The History of the Churchville One-Room Schoolhouse

The Churchville Schoolhouse, built circa 1846 and listed in the National Register of Historic Places, is one of the oldest structures in DuPage County as well as one of the few remaining one-room schoolhouses in the state of Illinois standing on its original site--making it both historically significant and a community treasure of Chicago’s western suburbs.

Built by local farmers and craftsmen, the Churchville Schoolhouse is a well-preserved example of typical 19th century rural schoolhouse architecture. Located on Church Road just north of Grand Avenue in what is now Bensenville (formerly unincorporated DuPage County), the schoolhouse sits on what was once part of the Fischer family farm, some of the earliest settlers in the area. Children from towns now known as Elmhurst, Bensenville and Addison attended the school until 1930.

In the mid-1800’s, one-room schoolhouses were a vital focal point of every growing community, bringing children of all ages together under one roof to learn their daily lessons. Throughout the late 1800’s and into the early 1900’s, as the area of what is now north Elmhurst and south Bensenville became more populated, the need for quality education grew. The Churchville Schoolhouse accommodated the needs of a growing, thriving community.

Between the 1930’s and 1960’s, the Churchville Schoolhouse outgrew its use as a classroom and was occasionally used as a meeting place for church groups and civic organizations as well as an overflow classroom for the Bensenville School District during an overcrowding year in the 1950’s. During the 1960’s, interest in the building resurfaced when a group of former students organized the Churchville Historical Society and began plans for renovation and repair.

The old Schoolhouse took on new life in 1988 when the property was transferred to Elmhurst School District 205 from members of the Fischer family. From 1988 to 2001, Churchville Schoolhouse was maintained by the school district and it was used for living history demonstrations for elementary school students from 1986 to 1997. School district officials deeded the property to the City of Elmhurst in 2001, and the City developed a restoration plan for the Schoolhouse to make it available once again for public use. This multi-phase construction project—which included the addition of accessible rest room facilities, excavation and installation of a foundation, and electrical and HVAC enhancements —was completed in August 2010.

A New Era for the Churchville Schoolhouse

Through the renovated Schoolhouse, visitors now have a close-up view of what life was like in an authentic one-room schoolhouse in the early 1900s. The Elmhurst History Museum staff manages an engaging living history program led by a trained staff member who takes on the role of the schoolmarm and gives students firsthand experience of a 1910 school day. Many other exciting community programs and events are also being planned, including:

  • History-related tours and presentations
  • Special events such as the annual Fall Open House
  • Cooperative seasonal programs with the Bensenville Park District and the Fischer Farm Homestead

The restoration of the Churchville Schoolhouse is a project that area residents can look to with a sense of pride and commitment to preserving history through this important national landmark. The City of Elmhurst is grateful to the elected officials who supported this project, and to the Elmhurst Heritage Foundation for their ongoing financial commitment.