Elgin Academy's Old Main building
The exterior of Elgin Academy's Old Main, completed in 1856 in the Great Revival style, was restored in 1979-80.
By 1838, The citizens of Elgin were turning their eyes toward higher education. The Elgin Academy had been chartered by the State of Illinois, but there was no money left over to begin instruction. Another college was planned by the Free Will Baptists in 1848, but those plans were shelved. That site was purchased in 1855 under the guidance of Dr. Joseph Tefft. On December 1, 1856 the school opened their doors to students, under the direction of Robert Blenkiron, a Christ College (Cambridge, Mass) graduate.
The Elgin Academy was unique among private schools at the time for its welcoming of students from all denominations. Since there was no electricity, scholars studied by candlelight at night.
Today, the original building of Elgin Academy, 'Old Main,' houses the Elgin Area Historical Society. More information is available about the society at The Elgin Area Historic Society and Museum Web Page. The Society operates a museum open to the public.
According to Dr. John Cooper, (Head of School, Elgin Academy), Elgin Academy, in continuous operation since 1839, occupies the surrounding campus and currently serves over 400 students from preschool through 12th grade.