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Douglas / PREP

444 West Reynolds Street
Springfield, IL 62702
School History

Stephen A. Douglas was an Illinois state legislator, a judge on the Illinois Supreme Court, a United States Representative and a United States Senator. (See article below for more information on Sen. Douglas.)

The original Second Ward School was built at the northeast corner of Second and Mason (now the site of Young’s, Inc.). The school opened for business on September 2, 1858. It was named for Stephen A. Douglas in 1882, but the name was changed in 1887 to Trapp School.

Albert Trapp was a physician and an Illinois State Representative. He served on the Springfield school board for twenty-eight years. Albert Trapp had attended the University of Heidelberg in Germany, where he was imprisoned for one year for opposing the emperor. Upon his release, he went to Switzerland and studied medicine at the University of Zurich, where he got into a duel with a student from another university. That student's second was von Bismarck, founder of the German Empire. We don't know what happened in that duel, but Trapp obviously survived, for he moved to the United States, settled in Belleville, and became a doctor. He was elected as a Democratic state representative in 1854. When one of his patients, William Bissell, became Governor in 1857, he convinced Trapp to move to Springfield. Trapp died here at the age of 88 in 1891.

In 1913 the Douglas name was re-instated. It moved to 547 W Mason in 1917, the site of the current location. The first occupation of the present building was on February 4, 1918. While the location of the school has not changed, the address was switched from the Mason Street address to the current Reynolds Street address.

From 1938 until 1948, the building housed the Sunshine School for children with illnesses. The school was closed in 1974. In 1980, the building housed Special Education programs and offices. In 1994, the building was re-opened as Douglas Alternative School.

The current building was constructed at a cost of $83,857.50 in 1917. A 1932 survey states there were 12 classrooms (including Art, Music, Home Economics, Industrial Arts, Kindergarten). The survey also states there were eight rooms other than classrooms and four “toilet rooms.”

Stephen A. Douglas

Stephen Arnold Douglas was born in Brandon, Vermont on April 23, 1813. He studied law and moved to Cleveland, Ohio in 1833. In 1829, he settled in Winchester, Illinois where he taught school and resumed his study of law. In 1834, he was admitted to the Illinois Bar and began his practice in Jacksonville.

He was elected to the Illinois legislature in 1836, a Judge of the Supreme Court of Illinois from 1841-1843, elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1843 and to the United States Senate in 1847 where he served until his death in 1861.

He was nicknamed “The Little Giant” for his short stature, large head and broad shoulders and is probably best remembered for his role in the Lincoln-Douglas Debates.

The debates between Stephen A. Douglas and Abraham Lincoln were held during the 1858 campaign for a US Senate seat from Illinois. The debates were held at 7 sites throughout Illinois, one in each of the 7 Congressional Districts.

Douglas, a Democrat, was the incumbent Senator, having been elected in 1847. He had chaired the Senate Committee on Territories. He helped enact the [Missouri] Compromise of 1850. Douglas then was a proponent of Popular Sovereignty, and was responsible for the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. The legislation led to the violence in Kansas, hence the name "Bleeding Kansas"

Lincoln was a relative unknown at the beginning of the debates. In contrast to Douglas' Popular Sovereignty stance, Lincoln stated that the US could not survive as half-slave and half-free states. The Lincoln-Douglas debates drew the attention of the entire nation.

Although Lincoln would lose the Senate race in 1858, he would beat Douglas out in the 1860 race for the US Presidency.

Douglas offered his services to President Lincoln after the outbreak of the Civil War. Douglas toured border states to arouse enthusiasm for the Union cause. He was stricken with typhoid in 1861 and died in Chicago on June 3, 1861, two months after Fort Sumter.

Former Students

March 23, 2012   1 photo
This is a picture of Florentine and Florence Gamby who attended Douglas when it was known as The Sunshine School. They attended because they were underweight. Both Tina and Flo have been substitute Special Ed Attendants at Douglas. Flo is currently filling a vacancy for us.

Old Photos

February 9, 2012   6 photos
1881 Springfield School Board Members

Dr. Albert H. Trapp, President; F. R. Feitshans, Secretary and Superintendent; A. A. Coats, Frank Hudson, R. P. Johnston, E. L. Merritt, Z. A. Enos, Henson Robinson, David S. Ives, Frank W. Tracy.