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History

History of VanderCook
Chronology of VanderCook College's Locations
VanderCook College's Current Location: Architecture and History


VanderCook Cornet School (later VanderCook College of Music) was founded in 1909 by Hale A. VanderCook to train professional musicians, directors and teachers.

The year 1909 is given as the founding date of VanderCook College because, in that year, Mr. VanderCook purchased the home, school and studios of his teacher, Alfred F. Weldon. The school was located at 1652 Warren Boulevard. Weldon (1862-1914) was one of the most famous brass instrument teachers in the Midwest. The College’s current philosophy of music education can trace its roots back to A.F. Weldon.

Hale A. VanderCook continued Weldon’s teaching philosophy, with an expanded program of teaching. Mr. VanderCook was nationally known as a conductor, soloist, composer and teacher, and students came to him from all over the country for advanced training, coaching and preparations for professional careers.

"There was no indication that Mr. Van's house was a school except for the noise, and the neighbors didn't like the school because of the noise. So one summer, ... the neighbors put a laughing record and record player in a window next door, and this thing laughed all day. One day a friend came to see me, and when I came down from class to talk with him he said, 'What kind of crazy place is this?' Mrs. VanderCook had a parrot that was talking, somebody was playing a saxophone upstairs, the directing class was going, 'One, pum, pum, zing,' and this laughing record was going at the same time. My friend thought it completely crazy."
-- interview with John Beckerman, past President of VanderCook College of Music

Shortly after World War I, interest in school bands and orchestras and the need for trained teachers and directors for such organizations, created the demand for a special course of study to prepare for this work. For several years this work was given by individual lessons, but in 1926 classes in various subjects were organized.

By 1927, more space was needed and VanderCook purchased a large brownstone residence at 1655 Washington Blvd. (and Paulina), later adding adjacent buildings at 1653 and 1657 Washington Blvd. Students took required academic and education courses at nearby Lewis Institute. The root of the relationship between VanderCook College of Music and the Lewis Institute (later Illinois Institute of Technology) was the close friendship between Hale A. VanderCook and George L. Tenney, better known as "Doc" Tenney. "Doc" taught vocal music at the Lewis Institute and directed choirs in some of the largest churches in the Chicago area.

Then in 1928 the school was incorporated as a non-profit teacher training institution under the Illinois State Laws and its curriculum approved by the Board of Examiners of the Illinois State Department of Public Instruction. Graduates therefore obtained certificates to teach bands and orchestras in the public schools without examination. By now the school was known as VanderCook School of Music.

The first class to complete the approved four-year course of study for the degree Bachelor of Music Education was graduated at the summer session of 1931. Members of that class, all prominent teachers, were John H. Beckerman, Clarence F. Gates, Clifford P. Lillya, Hubert E. Nutt, William D. Revelli and Otto Uttke.

After Lewis Institute merged with Armour Institute to form the Illinois Institute of Technology at 33rd and Federal Street, VanderCook School of Music was urged to move closer to the I.I.T. campus to continue the relationship it had fostered with the Lewis Institute. In 1953, a building site on Michigan Avenue, across the street from the I.I.T. dormitory area was purchased. In 1954, a large residence at 3219 S. Michigan Avenue was purchased and VanderCook moved to the new location. During this time the school changed its name to VanderCook College of Music.

In August, 1960, after several years of planning and fundraising, construction on a new building began. This building, located at 3209 S. Michigan Avenue, housed an auditorium, practice rooms, lounges, heating plant, storage, classrooms, offices and library. H.E. Nutt, co-founder of VanderCook College of Music, lived in the building until close to his death in 1981.

VanderCook College moved onto the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1996, into a building designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. This move allowed VanderCook College to retain its autonomy while fostering a reciprocal arrangement with a larger university whose amenities include student housing and other student facilities, classroom and performing spaces in various campus buildings, and a large research library.

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Chronology of VanderCook College's Locations

1652 Warren Boulevard (1909-1927)

Alfred F. Weldon (1862-1914) was one of the most famous brass instrument teachers in the Midwest. His most famous student was H.A. VanderCook who studied at the Weldon cornet school located at 1652 Warren Blvd. VanderCook Cornet School was established in 1907 when Weldon died. The year 1909 is given as the founding date of VanderCook College because, in that year, Mr. VanderCook purchased the home, school and studios of his late teacher. VanderCook took over where Weldon left off, offering sound, practical, musical education for professional musicians and band directors. The College's current philosophy of music education can trace its roots back to A.F. Weldon.

1655 W. Washington Blvd. (1927-1954)

VanderCook_1655_W_WashingtonBy 1927, more space was needed and VanderCook School of Music (name adopted in 1928 when it began awarding B.M.Ed degrees) purchased a large brownstone residence at 1655 Washington Blvd. (and Paulina), later adding adjacent buildings at 1653 and 1657 Washington Blvd. Students took required academic and education courses at nearby Lewis Institute. The root of the relationship between VanderCook College of Music and the Lewis Institute (later Illinois Institute of Technology) was the close friendship between Hale A. VanderCook and George L. Tenney, better known as "Doc" Tenney. "Doc" taught vocal music at the Lewis Institute and directed choirs in some of the largest churches in the Chicago area. 

3219 S. Michigan Ave. (1954-1969)

VanderCook_3219_S_Michigan

After Lewis Institute merged with Armour Institute to form the Illinois Institute of Technology at 33rd and Federal Street, VanderCook School of Music was urged to move closer to the I.I.T. campus to continue the relationship it had fostered with the Lewis Institute. In 1953, a building site on Michigan Avenue, across the street from the I.I.T. dormitory area was purchased. In 1954, a large residence at 3219 S. Michigan Avenue was purchased and VanderCook moved to the new location. During this time the school changed its name to VanderCook College of Music. 

3209 S. Michigan Ave. (1960-1996)

VanderCook_3209_S_Michigan

 

In August, 1960, after several years of planning and fundraising, construction on a new building began. This building housed an auditorium, practice rooms, lounges, heating plant, storage, classrooms, offices and library. H.E. Nutt, co-founder of VanderCook College of Music, lived in the building until close to his death in 1981.

3140 S. Federal Street (1996-)

VanderCook College moved onto the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1996, VanderCook 3140 S Federalinto a building designed by Mies van der Rohe. This move allowed VanderCook College to retain its autonomy while fostering a reciprocal arrangement with a larger university whose amenities include student housing and other student facilities, classroom and performing spaces in various campus buildings, and a large research library. 

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VanderCook College's Current Location: Architecture and History

VanderCook College of Music currently resides at 3140 S. Federal Street on the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology. Plans on the building began in 1948 and it was built in 1950 by architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. The building, known as the AAR Technical Center, was one of three buildings that formed the Association of American Railroads (AAR) Complex. The location of the Association of American Railroads on the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology was symbolic of the close relationship between the railroads and technological educational institutions in matters of research. The building is based on the model of a steel system with glass and brick curtain walls. The corner detail of the VanderCook College building is notable for brick that rises higher at the base of the wall before the steel begins above. VanderCook College of Music moved into the building in early 1996.

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