Last Thursday a piece of Hoopeston History lost out to progress as Lee Farms’ hi-ho crashed into the southwest corner of Honeywell School, beginning the demolition of the building.
The first school built in Hoopeston in 1873, Honeywell was 3-stories high located on the southwest corner of N. 4th Street and Honeywell Avenue. Each classroom had 300 seats and 300 feet of blackboard space that was divided equally among all the classrooms. Since, at that time, there was no indoor plumbing, it included “out-houses of excellent construction, latticed and covered with a slate roof” including “sidewalks .... laid around the building... for convenience” and good wells for water, said the Chronicle-Herald.
This first school housed, all grades, first through twelfth grades.
The 4th Street building was used until the new Honeywell School opened its doors in the fall of 1928 with modern plumbing and indoor restrooms.
On June 16, 2016, the Hoopeston school board decided to close Honeywell and shift classrooms to the other schools due to the declining student enrollment in the district. Rather than let the school deteriorate and become an eyesore, the board decided to remove memorabilia from the building, salvage woodwork and other items for later use and set a timeline to its demolition.
That time arrived this month. The building, according to Lee Farms, should be down in two weeks.
Both Honeywell and the John Greer gym were built in 1927 and put into use in 1928.
Before the present gym was built, basketball games were played in the John Greer High school building third floor, the former Greer College building. According to Glenn Brasel, the coach hired in 1922, the basketball gym was known as “the cracker box” among athletes.
“Each evening when the boys reported for practice,’ said Brasel, “we chased out the pigeons, and as soon as practice was over, they came back in to roost for the night.”
The gym measured 42’ by 30 ‘, out of bounds was the walls and baskets were put on the chimney at one end and a post at the other. Brasel said that “a basketball game played in that gym was more like playing a game of pool. The ball would bounce off the walls all the time just like a banked pool shot.”
There was also no heat in “the cracker box.” Temperatures would usually be between 45-50 degrees, according to Brasel in an interview when he retired, “and the next year no teams would come to Hoopeston to play basketball.” Brasel’s teams played all basketball games out of town until the new John Greer gym was opened in 1928. The first game played in the new gym was December 1928 against East Lynn.
And, I finally know what year, now that Honeywell is losing its existence, the Honeywell Football Field was built as a football field. It was created in 1939 with the help of the WPA who was doing roadwork in Hoopeston that year. That was Honeywell’s final piece of history that I needed.
The Honeywell playground equipment was shifted to John Greer Grade School and will become a part of that school.