GLENWOOD | Brookwood School District 167 is getting closer to building a new middle school, which could open in the fall of 2015.
The first time it was at this stage in the planning of a new school was 1895 and the building wasn't expected to need a parking lot. Henry Ford's Model T wouldn't roll off the assembly lines for a decade.
Brookwood Middle School represents a piece of Glenwood history. Additions were made in 1928, 1950 and 1958 and the original four-room brick structure built in 1898 is still standing today at the corner of Glenwood-Lansing and Glenwood-Dyer roads.
At the time, there were about 130 students and only three teachers. Today, 265 students are taught by 26 full-time staff and nine part-time.
Ken Bult, author of "Images of America: Glenwood," has fond memories of the building as both a historian and a Brookwood Middle School alumnus.
"I went to that school through fifth grade and then the new junior high opened," Bult said. "I also have a soft spot in my heart for old buildings and history in general so I hate to see it disappear."
"It is a shame they are tearing down a piece of history but progress marches on."
Progress is exactly what the district is hoping to get with its new school. The current building lacks air conditioning, has no bathrooms on its upper floors and, because it was built over a century ago, no firestops within its construction.
Terry Campbell is a Glenwood trustee and former D.167 School Board president. He's also a 31-year veteran of the village Fire Department.
Campell worked on the campaign to have a referendum passed in November 2012 for the building of the new school.
"At some point, it's just not worth saving," Campbell said. "I wouldn't use the words 'fire trap,' but it always worried me, to be honest."
But Campbell's memories of the building aren't all bad.
The most distinctive features of the school for decades were the fire escape chutes coming out of east and west side second-story windows. Campbell remembers riding his bike to the school after hours and climbing up the chutes to slide down.
"It probably wasn't safe and we could've gotten in trouble, but it was a lot of fun," he said.
Bob Harvey, who taught at the school for 21 years after attending it in his youth, also remembers climbing up the chutes as a kid.
"If there was a fire drill and you were lucky enough to be in one of those rooms, you got to slide down," Harvey said.
The tubes were removed sometime in the 1970s.
The building is not a historical landmark. The district applied for landmark status at its centennial in 1998, but the building didn't meet the requirements because a portion of its north-facing facade was redone in the 1930s, Campbell said.
Harvey's parents attended Brookwood Middle School. His brothers Ron and Rich did, too. His daughter Stacy taught at the school before moving to Hammond.
Harvey heard stories from his parents about the skating rink that was once across the street and he told stories about digging friends out of giant snow piles after being released from school early during the blizzard of 1967.
"Kids will deal with whatever building they happen to be in," Harvey said. "Those will be the stories they have for rest of their lives."
"It was just a great place to go to school."