Historic Austin






The land just north of Cicero, Illinois, but still within the Township of Cicero, was purchased in 1865 by Henry W. Austin, a prominent businessman, realestate broker and land developer. He soon began to plan, survey and develop the area calling it the Austinville subdivision of the Township of Cicero. Slow but steady development occurred during the 1870s and 1880s. By the early 1890s, the area was growing fast and becoming more heavily populated. The Township of Cicero even chose to locate their township hall in Austinville. In the mid 1890s, the Austinville subdivision agreed to allow the Lake Street Elevated Railroad to extend their rail lines through its boundaries and into the Village of Oak Park, thus facilitating additional growth.






The residents of Cicero Township voted to allow the City of Chicago to annex the entire Austinville area in 1899 and therby Austinville became part of Chicago and became its westernmost neighborhood. Readily available transportation systems to complement the elevated railroad were essential to the early growth of the newly designated neighborhood of Austin. New stations in the Austin neighborhood were built along the rail line. The early horse drawn surface commuter tram cars used to move people were gradually replaced by electric streetcars. Miles and miles of inset steel tracks were laid, criss crossing Austin along its major streets and avenues, further adding to its overalll development.

During the early 20th century, Park (later changed to Parkside) and Central Avenues from Lake Street north to Race Street and Central Avenue from Lake Street south to Fulton Street facilitated by the elevated line's Austin (at Central Avenue) Station became the focal point and commercial center of the neighborhood of Austin. By the 1920s, Austin had grown to approximately 130,000 residents.









The Austin Town Hall, facing Lake Street between Central and Parkside Avenues and modeled after Philadelphia's Independence Hall along with the Austin Branch of the Chicago Public Library located directly north and facing Race Street were both completed utilizing the same exterior building materials and were both dedicated in 1929. Together they became architectural landmarks and focal points for the community.








Austin's population peaked during the 1940s at just shy of 140,000 residents. From the 1930s through the 1950s, Austin was the largest neighborhood by population of the 77 officially designated areas of Chicago. During the period between the 1920s and 1970s, the Austin neighborhood was officially designated to include that area from the Belt Line Railroad tracks at Kenton Avenue on the east to Austin Boulevard on the west and from Roosevelt Road on the south to North Avenue on the north, encompassing a total of 51/4 square miles. The population of Austin began to decline during the 1960s and the 1970s and it presently has approximately 95,000 residents.





High school level classes were first offered to residents of Austinville in the 1870s in one room of a brick school house called the Ohio Street School located at the northeast corner of Park (later changed to Parkside) Avenue and Ohio (later changed to Race) Street. The first high school graduation class in 1876 consisted of 2 students. Enrollment was sparse and remained low until the first and original Austin High School building was constructed and opened in 1890. It was located between Fulton Street and West End Avenue, just west of Long Avenue.


Starting with 72 students in 1890, enrollment steadily increased through the early 1900s forcing the original building to be expanded by adding several different additions in 1898, 1906 and 1915. When mobile classrooms became too numerous and impractial to handle the growing enrollment, construction of a second building began in 1927. This substantially larger new building was dedicated and opened in 1930 just west of the original building and given the address of 231 North Pine Avenue.









Austin High School operated as a two-building facility for the next 28 years consisting of the older East Building and the newer West Building in a campus like setting with a tunnel connecting both buildings. This two-building campus covered the entire city block between Long and Pine Avenues and Fulton Street and West End Avenue. During the years it operated as a two-building facility, the boundaries were also increased to encompass not only the official Austin neighborhood but also the area between Roosevelt Road and North Avenue from the Belt Line Railroad tracks east to Crawford (later renamed Pulaski Road) Avenue, thus including portions of the West Garfield Park and West Humboldt Park neighborhoods. These extended boundary lines increased the attendance area to 71/2 square miles.


The school enrollment with the two buildings remained steady during the 1930s and 1940s at between 7,000 and 8,000 students. A freshman branch located at John Hay School and a specialized curriculum branch located at Rezin Orr School became necessary in 1927 and lasted until 1941 to help accommodate this large student body. The 1937 Maroon and White yearbook was dedicated to, "the Largest Coeducational High School in the City of Chicago." Isolating the Austin neighborhood as its own entity, it was larger than any other city, village or township in the state at the time, so its namesake high school was more than likely also the largest in the state of Illinois and probably one of the largest in the United States. Published at the onset of World War II, the 1942 Maroon and White yearbook was dedicated to, "all recent graduates and those current students who are presently serving in our armed forces and defending our nation while at war". 

The older East Building was torn down in 1959 with the land turned into athletic fields and a parking area. Austin High School once again became a single building facility. The boundary lines were also reduced at this time, eliminating the West Garfield Park area from the Belt Line Railroad tracks east to Pulaski Road and from Roosevelt Road north to Chicago Avenue. Enrollment steadily declined during the 1950s and early 1960s to approximately 3,000 students by 1965. A changing neighborhood, loss of population and increasing violence caused the Chicago Public School system to begin the phasing out of Austin High School. No incoming freshmen were admitted in 2004 and with the 2007 graduation of approximately 200 students, this phasing out was completed and Austin High School ceased to exist. The building was closed, repaired, refurbished and then reopened in 2010 to include four separate educational and career learning branches. It was again rechartered in 2016 and became the Austin College and Career Academy High School, composed of three educational and career learning branches attended by approximately 250 students.





This long and established history of the Austin neighborhood and its namesake high school was
similarly reflected with the thousands of families
putting down generational and historical roots in the community. Many of our parents, aunts, uncles and
even grandparents grew up and resided in the Austin neighborhood, attended the same grammar schools
and later attended and graduated from Austin High School. The listing below reflects a sampling of this ancestry:




John Ahlen - Class of 1965
Steven Ahlen - Class of 1966
Father: John W. Ahlen - Class of 1937
     Aunt: Ruth (Ahlen) Swanson - Class of 1934


Ellen (Baudler) Krevchena - Class of 1966
     Father: Ernest Baudler - Class of 1933
     Aunt: Dolly Baudler - Class of 1936
Adrienne (Beckerman) Romirowsky - Class of 1965
     Aunt: Marcia (Wishnick) Karel - Class of 1954
Janet (Blomberg) Bullock - Class of 1964
     Mother: Alva (Alburg) Blomburg - Class of 1929


Eileen (Chapman) Kossak Detore - Class of 1965
Charles Chapman - Class of 1967

     Mother: Rose (Rappaport) Chapman - Class of 1940
Georgette (Chiampas) Tolen - Class of 1967
Constance 'Dena' (Chiampas) Burger - Class of 1969

     Uncle: John Chiampas - Class of 1956
     Aunt: Mary (Chiampas) Angelos - Class of 1959
Carol (Clemenson) Sommers - Class of 1965
Grandfather: Frederick Clemenson - Class of 1896
     Father: Edward Clemenson - Class of 1926
     Aunt: Mary (Clemenson) Adams - Class of 1915
     Aunt: Anna (Clemenson) Andren - Class of 1916
     Aunt: Ruth Clemenson - Class of 1919
     Uncle: Arthur Clemenson - Class of 1921
     Uncle: Kenneth Clemenson - Class of 1929
     Aunt: Jeannette (Clemenson) Nissen - Class of 1931
Robert Collins - Class of 1964
Mother: Marilyn (Reed) Collins - Class of 1944
     Uncle: James Collins - Class of 1950
     Uncle: Martin Collins - Class of 1952
Paula (Colman) Ezop - Class of 1964
     Father: Romain Colman - Class of 1938
John Corsiglia - Class of 1966
Robert Corsiglia - Class of 1953
Richard Corsiglia - Class of 1954

     Mother: Marie (Sbertoli) Corsiglia - Class of 1929
     Uncle: John Sbertoli - Class of 1926    
     Uncle: Joseph Sbertoli - Class of 1932
     Uncle: Edward Sbertoli - Class of 1936


Charles 'Kyle' Dressler - Class of 1964
     Mother: Delia (Marshall) Dressler - Class of 1941
     Uncle: Edward E. Buck - Class of 1940


Patricia (Formento) Wilken - Class of 1964
John Formento - Class of 1965
Alice (Formento) Church - Class of 1968

     Mother: Shirley (Petersen) Formento - Class of 1941
     Uncle: Walter Petersen - Class of 1937
     Uncle: Leighton Petersen - Class of 1939
     Uncle: Frederick Petersen - Class of 1942
     Uncle: Richard Petersen - Class of 1944
     Aunt: Alice Petersen - Class of 1945


Susan (Gaspar) Hickey - Class of 1966
Daniel Gaspar - Class of 1969
Laura Gaspar - Class of 1971
Cheryl Gaspar - Class of 1972
     Aunt: Julia Gaspar - Class of 1933
     Uncle: Paul Gaspar - Class of 1935
     Uncle: John Gaspar - Class of 1939
     Uncle: Martin Gaspar - Class of 1942
Patricia (Gavin) Quinn - Class of 1965
Colleen (Gavin) Kirkaldy - Class of 1965
Father: Charles Gavin - Class of 1934
     Aunt: Margaret Gavin - Class of 1931
 Donald Greenfield - Class of 1964
Mother: Lea (Brody) Greenfield - Class of 1932
     Father: Aaron Greenfield - Class of 1934


Darlene (Kotrba) Christians - Class of 1965
Mother: Eleanore (Ewald) Kotrba - Class of 1941
     Aunt: Martha (Ewald) Ellefsen - Class of 1947
     Uncle: Elmer Ellefsen - Class of 1948
JoAnn (Kowalski) Martin - Class of 1964
Marilyn (Kowalski) Passarelli - Class of 1965
Marie (Kowalski) Trow - Class of 1965 
Aunt: Delores (Tanrath) Policheri - Class of 1948
Rose Kundanis - Class of 1965
Father: Ulysses Kundanis - Class of 1938
     Mother: Bessie (Kouzios) Kundanis - Class of 1941
     Aunt: Bertha Kundanis - Class of 1937
     Uncle: Nicholas Kouzios - Class of 1938
     Uncle: Peter Kouzios - Class of 1940


Charles Lazzaro - Class of 1967
     Father: Michael Lazzaro - Class of 1940
Barbara (Leo) LoCascio - Class of 1965
Judy Leo - Class of 1969
Father: Robert P. Leo - Class of 1939

Wayne Lerner - Class of 1967
     Mother: Jacklyn (Pochter) Lerner - Class of 1945    
Mary Lou (Lynch) Vacca - Class of 1967
Betsy (Lynch) Allen - Class of 1969
Joanne (Lynch) Cameron - Class of 1971

     Mother: Geraldine (Verhoeven) Lynch - Class of 1942


Chuck Manson - Class of 1965
Tom Manson - Class of 1967
     Father: Arthur Manson - Class of 1937 
Kathleen (McLaughlin) Asaro - Class of 1965
     Mother: Catherine (Panicola) McLaughlin - Class of 1937
Jacquelyn (Meron) Adler - Class of 1964
Howard Meron - Class of 1969

     Mother: Barbara (Goldberg) Meron - Class of 1938
     Uncle: Marshall Goldberg - Class of 1942
Michael Munkvold - Class of 1965
Richard Munkvold - Class of 1968

     Father: Elmer Munkvold - Class of 1938


Robert Parrish - Class of 1964
     Father: Roberrt Parrish - Class of 1936
     Mother: Kathleen (Patsios) Parrish - Class of 1938
     Uncle: George Patsios - Class of 1933
Peggy (Past) Dicillo - Class of 1964
Uncle: Matthew Ellsworth - Class of 1951
Dan Piovosi - Class of 1965
Arlene (Piovosi) Stokke - Class of 1959

     Father: Harry Piovosi - Class of 1928


Sena (Repta) Ekberg - Class of 1966
Mother: Mary Margaret (Corso) Repta - Class of 1937


Joy (Sbertoli) McKeown - Class of 1965
Terry Sbertoli - Class of 1961

James Sbertoli - Class of 1960
     Father: Edward Sbertoli - Class of 1936
     Uncle: John Sbertoli - Class of 1926
     Aunt: Marie (Sbertoli) Corsiglia - Class of 1929
     Uncle: Joseph Sbertoli - Class of 1932
Marcia (Silver) Silverman - Class of 1965
Mother: Mollie (Miller) Silver - Class of 1936
Lynn Sivertsen - Class of 1965
Barbara Sivertsen - Class of 1966

     Mother: Jean (Humiston) Sivertsen - Class of 1932
     Aunt: Margaret (Humiston) Maury - Class of 1920
     Uncle: Dr. Homer Humiston - Class of 1922
     Aunt: Ruth (Humiston) Rockwood - Class of 1924
     Uncle: Charles Humiston - Class of 1926
     Aunt: Helen (Humiston) McCalley - Class of 1928
Robert 'Bob' Spencer - Class of 1965
     Aunt: Carol Carlson - Class of 1940


John Tallitsch - Class of 1965
Robert Tallitsch - Class of 1967

     Father: John Tallitsch - Class of 1932
     Mother: Eleanor (Boyde) Tallitsch - Class of 1933
William Trow - Class of 1965
Barbara (Trow) Rio - Class of 1968
Betty (Trow) Sachtschale - Class of 1971

     Mother: Betty (Nixon) Trow - Class of 1937
     Uncle: William 'Bill' Nixon - Class of 1941
     Aunt: Bernice (Wedel) Nixon - Class of 1942


Douglas Utigard - Class of 1964
Donald Utigard - Class of 1967
Rodney Utigard - Class of 1968
Randi (Utigard) Lazzaro - Class of 1968

     Mother: Marge (Pedersen) Utigard - Class of 1942 


Thomas Warman - Class of 1967
     Mother: Olive (Simpson) Warman - Class of 1927
Robert 'Bob' Weitzman - Class of 1965
Mother: Frieda ((Baim) Weitzman - Class of 1940
     Uncle: Jay Baim - Class of 1938