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Local

Allen School: The state’s oldest operating school

The oldest operating school in the state of Illinois is about a 40-mile drive northwest of Ottawa.

In the Bureau County village of La Moille sits Allen Junior High School, 301 Main St., which houses fourth- through eighth-grade students of La Moille Community School District.

The building is on the National Register of Historic Places. The school was built in the late 1800s, officially opening for classes in the fall of 1888, according to the school website. The building is named for Joseph Allen, who was born in Massachusetts in 1813 and moved to Bureau County in 1836 to farm land.

Allen gave $35,000 to the village of La Moille in his will, requesting $25,000 be used to build a school and the rest used for maintenance.

Allen died April 17, 1887. On Aug. 30, 1888, the building was dedicated in his name.

The school district's website reports in its early years, the school hosted eight grades plus a three-year high school. In the 1916-17 school year, Allen School became La Moille Community High School with a standard four-year curriculum.

This year marked the beginning of what the district plans to be an annual tradition. On Aug. 10, the school conducted its inaugural bell ringing, chiming the bell that still resides in the building's tower. The bell ringing marks the kickoff to the new school year.

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