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History of Bowen High School
Educational facilities in the Calumet region of Chicago multiplied rapidly from
1853-1884. In 1876 The Bowen Elementary School was built at 93rd Street and
Houston Avenue. It contained 4 rooms, one of which was used for advanced high school
work. From this modest beginning rose the South Chicago High School and its successor
the james Harvey Bowen High School.
The curriculum consisted of Latin, French, German, Greek, all branches of Mathe-
matics, and all of our present sciences and social subjects. Very little technical work
was offered, Business courses and science laboratory work were unheard of at this
time. Gradually stenography and bookkeeping were introduced and a sewing class of
12 girls was organized in the basement in 1909. Commencement exercises took place
once a year, so that failure of a subject meant the redoing of a year's work. Com-
mencement exercises were held in the Calumet Theatre or at Becks Hall in the vicinity
of 91st and 92nd and Commercial Avenue.
In 1889 the need was felt for an addition to the school to take care of the increas-
ing number of students. Charles I. Parker, Superintendent of Schools in South Chicago,
became principal and was largely responsible for the present building which was con-
structed in january, 1911. Pupils came to this new school from South Chicago,
Pullman, Windsor Park, and even as far as Indiana.
Carpenters continued to work in the school for weeks after it opened. XVhile
the work continued, Mr. Parker had his office temporarily in 3ozA, Feeding on the
grass on the front were chickens, geese, ducks, and goats. Roll was called in the
auditorium because division rooms were not available during the first days. Both
teachers and students carried their own lunches. A four piece orchestra was organized
that played after school on Fridays. The money earned bought footlights and burlap
curgtns for ther.-stage. The students were awarded J S500 library for obtaining so
many subscrinfions for the Herald and Examiner.
,On school was named in honor of james Harvey Bowen. Mr.
of all new and improved schools. To him, to Charles
and to the pioneers cf the fifties is Bowen's record due
e school of the Calumet District," a'”