The Lewis Institute of Chicago

Ray Stannard Baker

The Outlook/September 26, 1896

The Lewis Institute, opened in Chicago on September 21, marks another advance in the university extension idea of carrying the college to the pupils instead of asking the pupils to move to the college.

When Allen C. Lewis died in 1877, he left $550,000 for the establishment of an educational institution for boys and girls. Owing to certain complications with regard to the settlement of the estate, the real work of founding the school was not begun until July 9, 1895. At that time the Board of Trustees, made up of three prominent businessmen, prepared its report, which showed that the original endowment had more than tripled in its hands, the actual amount being something over $1,600,000. A handsome building costing $225,000 was erected at the comer of West Madison and Robey Streets, in the heart of the great west side of the city, where it would reach the greatest possible number of pupils in their homes. It is six stories high above the basement and fitted with classrooms, laboratories, manual training rooms, libraries, studios, and a lecture-hall with a seating capacity of seven hundred and fifty. In equipment it will have every convenience that a bountiful endowment can supply. The Board of Managers include William R. Harper, of Chicago University; Albert G. Lane, Principal of the schools of Chicago; George N. Carman, Director of the Institute; John A. Roach, C. C. Kohlsaat, John McLaren, and Thomas Kane. A faculty of twenty-six professors and instructors has been provided, and it is expected that at least five hundred pupils, half of the total capacity of the Institute, will be in attendance on opening day.

The aim of the Institute is to provide a high-grade secondary education at small expense to pupils. There will be many short courses of all kinds, and evening classes, instruction being given in mechanics, stenography, household economy, and manual training, in addition to the usual language, literature, and science courses. In every study instruction will be first-class as far as it goes. It is expected that a large number of young people who have neither the time nor the money to attend college will take advantage of this opportunity for obtaining an education. Being located in a populous district, pupils may live at home and take the courses, thus avoiding the largest item of college expense—that of board and lodging. The tuition is fixed at $60 a year. A graduate from the academic course of the Institute will be capable of entering those colleges and universities whose requirements for admission are the most advanced.

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