From 1928 to 1959 a branch of St. John’s Lutheran School ran on the south side of Forest Park at 1037 Marengo Ave., which has recently reopened as a school run by Rita Cassiano and Gingi Lahera
The school held classes for students from Kindergarten and first grade in the basement. In its final years, Mr. Robert Schuler taught second through fourth grade on the main floor in a “one room schoolhouse,” taking turns giving lessons to each grade. Local Paul Schlicting was in the last fourth grade class at the southside school. Fifth graders at the time went to the main school, located where the St. John’s parking lot at 305 Circle Ave. is today.
The 1958 fire at Our Lady of Angels school in Chicago, located at Avers Avenue and Iowa Street, took the lives of 95 people, making it the deadliest school fire in American history. This event forever changed the fire code allowances and “grandfather” clauses that many schools had.
Locally, St. John parish took action to change their schools and made plans to close the south side school and merge with the main school on the north side of town. The north building, a wood schoolhouse, was retrofitted with fire escapes, and students practiced escape routes for the next five years as the parish worked to construct a new and safer school to the north of the church. St. John’s School, built with brick, was dedicated in 1964.