Opened in 1917, Libertyville, Illinois’ first high school opened. In time it became known as the “Brainerd Building”. It served in an educational capacity for the community for over 80 years before finally being discontinued in that capacity in 1999. In 2006, a group of prominent individuals from the Libertyville area came together and set a vision for restoring the old building and using it as a new community center – The Brainerd Community Center. They envisioned a place for families to experience performing arts, sports, learning, drop in centers for toddlers and teens, social and civic gatherings and more.
In 2007, efforts were underway both in terms of restoration and in action. Volunteers and contributions were sought from the community and it became clear that public awareness of both the vision and the need was crucial to both short and long term success. “This is a very significant effort that is being undertaken here and we are doing it without taxpayer money. As a result the support of the community both in terms of private funding and in terms of volunteerism is crucial and we envision using the internet as a means to communicate both our needs and our achievements as we move forward,” said Walter Oakley, a member of the Brainerd Community Center Board of Directors.
“We saw the work that Integrated Web Solutions did for the Gorton Community Center in nearby Lake Forest. The parallels between the two centers was remarkable in terms of vision. Of course, Gorton is much further down the path than we are at this point but their insight has been invaluable as has that of IWS,” said John Snow, Vice President of the Brainerd Community Center Board of Directors.
An initial web site was developed quickly allowing for Brainerd volunteers to update their own news stories, to provide a virtual tour and to provide a starting point for communicating volunteer opportunities and how to contribute.
Work continues diligently on transforming the beloved property and In July of 2008, the Brained Community Center was honored by the U.S. Parks Service with a listing in the National Register of Historic Places based on the significance of the Brainerd Building in its original role as the first dedicated four-year high school in Central Lake County and the eight decades that it served public education.