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Open Elgin to Feature U-46 School, Observatory

April 24, 2019 

School District U-46 will participate in the 3rd annual Open Elgin event Saturday afternoon by showcasing two of its buildings. The District sites will be among nearly 30 unique spaces and places available for free tours during Open Elgin, a city-wide event celebrating the architecture and history of “The City in the Suburbs.”

Channing Memorial Elementary School will be open for tours from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. It celebrated its 50th birthday in November 2018, but is marking the 2018-19 school year as its 50th year of serving students. Located at 63 S. Channing St. in Elgin, the school was built on the northwest corner of a former cemetery.

Channing is known for how it blends both functionally and aesthetically with its wooded hillside location. Because of the sloping site, each of its three levels has its own ground entrance for easy access. Students will lead the tours of the school on Saturday and there will be a presentation in the multi-purpose room, plus a craft activity for children.

Also open for tours from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. will be the U-46 Planetarium and Observatory; the Observatory was built and opened by the Elgin National Watch Company in 1910 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

A number of U-46 students will be serving as volunteers on Saturday, including about 30 members of the Larkin High School baseball team.

“Open Elgin is a unique event, and U-46 is pleased to be able to showcase some of our rich history by participating again this year,” said CEO Tony Sanders.

The Elgin Area Chamber and the Enhancing Elgin Committee of the Elgin Development Group have organized Open Elgin for the past three years. Among the other churches, museums, and historic buildings that will be open for self-guided tours on Saturday are the Congregation Kneseth Israel, the third site of the Elgin synagogue; the Professional Building, Elgin’s oldest skyscraper; the 1846 Nancy Kimball Cobblestone House; and the Elgin Fire Barn Museum, built in 1903. The complete list of nearly 30 spaces and places on the tour, along with individual building tour times, is available at

The Enhancing Elgin Committee developed the inaugural Open Elgin event. The committee consists of representatives the City of Elgin, School District U-46, Judson University, Elgin Area Convention & Visitors Bureau,  Downtown Neighborhood Association, Elgin History Museum, and Gail Borden Public Library District.