Public School, ca. 1890.
The second Pullman school, 1917.
A 1900 History of the Pullman School
To the pioneers of the Calumet region it seems but a short span to the
time when Mr. Brennan and Mr. Martin were the only school teachers in
this locality, where now something like 150 teachers are required to
care for the army of children gathered in our schools.
It was early in the year 1881 when the first families began to appear
in the new houses of Pullman, and perhaps half a dozen children living
in the Watt avenue block between 111th and 112th streets traveled
across the prairie for the last three months of that school year to
attend the old Kensington school, located where the Curtis branch now
stands, and taught by Mr. Martin, now of the Pullman school.
About this time the school authorities of Township No. 37 formed the
new Pullman district, No. 11, by taking away from the Kensington and
Roseland districts the land lying east of Indiana avenue, north of
115th street and south of 95th street.
The first board of directors of this new school district were: Mr.
Mead, assistant manager Pullman shops; Mr. E. W. Henricks, chief
clerk, and Mr. Noah Van Winkle, first postmaster of Pullman.
Nov. 21, 1881, Mr. Martin organized the Pullman school, assisted by
Mrs. I. M. Biden, teacher, in the old Rock Island depot at Fulton and
111th streets. In January following, Miss Agnes Brennan, sister of
the principal of the Van Vlissingen school, was added to the teaching
The next year the population of Pullman had increased so rapidly that
it was necessary to employ a force of twelve teachers. Among these
teachers were Miss Lucy Selke, now a special teacher of drawing in the
Chicago schools, and Miss Ada Johnson, a teacher of sewing at the
The freight depot, now occupied by the Hastings Express Co., and the
old Market Hall were used for school purposes until February, 1883,
when the new school building at Pullman avenue and 113th street was
completed and occupied. The 105th street branch was opened during
In the fall of 1882 the school was placed under the direction of a
board of education, of which Dr. John McLean was president, and E. C.
Tourtelot was secretary. Both men held these offices until
annexation, in 1889.
In 1896 eight rooms were added to the school building. In 1902 the
Riverside school was made a branch of the Pullman school, and in 1905
the Poe school was built to accommodate the children of North Pullman.
The small children of this section had previously been poorly housed
in branches, while the older children attended the main school.
In the fall of 1907 the new twenty-six-room building was completed and
occupied. This building has no superior in Chicago for elementary
school purposes, and only awaits track elevation to be utilized to its
limit for the purpose for which it was erected.
The evening school has been a feature of the Pullman school since 1885
and has done a great work in this community, especially among the
The Pullman school has always had an efficient corps of teachers and
has merited the confidence of the community which it has served.
The present head assistant, Miss L. M. Vosburgh, Miss Dolton and Miss
Helen Ferguson began service in 1883; Miss Ann Vosburgh in 1884; Miss
MacDonald in 1886; Miss Mowbray in 1888, and Miss Fickell in 1889.
Most of the other teachers have served from four to twelve years.
Such permanency in the tenure of service of teachers counts much for
the efficiency of the work of a school.
Chicago Board of Education Proceedings, 1895-1896
Page 445: Proposition of George M. Pullman Accepted. A report of the committee that they had negotiated with George M.
Pullman for several months past with reference to the leasing of the
building and premises known as the Pullman School, and that they had,
through the Chairman of the Committee, finally secured the following
proposition, and recommending its acceptance by the Board, to-wit:
Lease of the entire premises known as the Pullman School Building,
located on Pullman and Morse avenues and One Hundred and Fourteenth
street: lease to be made in the name of George M. Pullman; to date
from September 1, 1895, and to expire August 31, 1898; rental, $7,500
per annum for the buildings and grounds; $1700 per annum for heating
building, the Board of Education to keep said building in good
- Mary Canon
- Sidney Brilin (?)
- Ellen Johnson
- William Ball
- Rose Thompson
- Samuel Nilson
- Ida N--phir
- Maggie McQueen
- Annie Rafferty
Pullman Free School of Manual Training
At the time of his death, Pullman's estate was worth around $7,600,000. His will provided $1,200,000 for the establishment and endowment of an industrial school for children of people living in or employed by the Pullman Company. This school was built in 1915 and was known as the Pullman Free School of Manual Training (111th St. and King Drive).
The cornerstone of the building was laid in 1914 and a year later the first class of 106 students started their training. This school was to be in operation until 1948. When the endowment was depleted, the school was purchased and operated by the Chicago Archdiocese until it became too much of a financial burden. It is now owned by the Chicago Public Schools and is called the Gwendolyn Brooks Academy.