|Waterman Hall for Girls
|Courtesy of Phyllis Kelley
The History of Sycamore Waterman Hall for Girls
Sycamore (population 14,866) is located in DeKalb County, about 55 miles west of Chicago and 35 miles south of Rockford. It serves as the county seat and can
be reached by taking Illinois Routes 23 and 64,
located along the south bank of the East Branch of the Kishwaukee River. The community was incorporated as a village in 1858, and then received the same
recognition as a city in 1869. The Sycamore and Cortland Railroad once ran thru the
town and helped it in its early growth. After a couple of battles,
the county courthouse came to Sycamore in 1903.
Waterman Hall for Girls was opened in 1888 by Mrs. J.S. (Abbie) Waterman, who endowed part
of her homestead for the school thru her will. The original Waterman home (see below) was converted into a rectory for
the Episcopal rector in charge of the school, and three other buildings were also built nearby, including the main building
above, Tower Hall.
The school attracted girls primarily from affluent families, some of which came from Chicago as well as
the remainder of Illinois, and others travelled from other states like South Dakota and Montana to attend. Waterman Hall was
a preparatory school for some Eastern colleges, including the prestigious Wellesley College, in addition to some
Sadly, Waterman Hall closed its doors in the spring of 1918 due to financial difficulties and
the resignation of its rector, Rev. B.F. Fleetwood, D.D., who had served the school in that capacity for 29 years.
The school was reopened a year later in the fall of 1919 when St. Alban's Academy for Boys moved from Knoxville to Sycamore, but later ceased as a center of education when that school closed in
1938. It was also a National Youth Administration center for young men to learn a trade during World War II, and served
as a Episcopal retreat center called the Bishop McLaren Center into the 1960's before the buildings were torn down in
1967 to make way for apartments.
|Original Waterman Homestead
|Courtesy of Phyllis Kelley
It is possible that students enjoyed social activities such as parties, clubs, and some intramural sports
while attending the school. Unfortunately, we are in need of help in finding out more about what the girls of Waterman Hall did
in their free time. Those that may have information are invited to contact us at the addresses below.
According to information that was received from Phyllis Kelley at the Joiner History Room in Sycamore, it
was a tradition of each graduating class to have the speech of its valedictorian put into a small box that would be sealed
into the walls of one of the school buildings, beneath a window sill. When the school was torn down, it may have given
cause to the wrecking crew to be perplexed when these small cornerstone-type boxes were showing up in the rubble of the demolished
building, given what was in them!
to Phyliis Kelly at the Joiner History Room in Sycamore for the information and photos she provided to us in helping present this page to you.
IF YOU HAVE MORE...
information about Waterman Hall for Girls in Sycamore, please contact us. Our addresses are firstname.lastname@example.org or send your information to us at;
Illinois High School Glory Days
6439 North Neva
Chicago, IL 60631