History of Dubois
by Margie Adkins
updated March 2017
Dubois sits on land that was once the State Fair Grounds, where the first Illinois State Fair was held in 1853. In 1861 the land became a Civil War army camp named Camp Yates in honor of Richard Yates, governor of Illinois at the time. It was here that Ulysses S. Grant re-enlisted into the army, beginning his Civil War career which later led to his Presidency. A marker commemorating this fact was placed in front of the school in 1952.
In May of 1867, the lot on the southeast corner of Lincoln and Washington Streets was purchased from Jesse K. Dubois, a former state auditor and friend of Lincoln who owned all the land where Dubois, Sacred Heart Convent, and Sacred Heart Griffin are currently located. That summer the original Dubois School was built. It was a brick building with two rooms on the main floor and a winding wooden stairway which led to a large hall on the upper floor. That school burned around 1891 and was replaced with another building in 1892. That building was given the name West Springfield School by A. H. Bates, who had donated money to its construction and the purchase of three more lots on the south side of the building to provide a playground. When the city of Springfield annexed the town of West Springfield in 1896, the Springfield Board of Education took over operations of the building, officially annexing the school in 1897. On June 7, 1898, the school was officially renamed Dubois School.
About 1906 a second floor was added to the Old Dubois to increase its size from four rooms to eight. In 1912 two additional lots were purchased on the south for more playground space.
The New Dubois building was begun in 1916. They had to put off finishing the building for a year for lack of funds. The cornerstone was laid in the new school on June 23, 1916, by Elizabeth Dubois, granddaughter of Jesse K. Dubois. An address was given by former Governor Richard Yates, Jr., the son of the Civil War Governor Richard Yates for whom Camp Yates had been been named.
Illinois State Journal, March 24, 1929.
Illinois State Register, June 21, 1916.