Ideal Elementary’s history is connected to Joseph Vial, La Grange’s first settler. The Erie Canal had been finished in 1825, opening up the waterways west through the Great Lakes. Vial, traveled from New York with his wife and four children. He saw promise in the prairie that lay west of the growing settlement of Chicago and built a log cabin in 1833 at what is now Plainfield and Wolf Roads.
In 1844, Margaret McNaughten taught in a little log school house located at Wolf Rd and Route 66 in what is now Indian Head Park. Margaret McNaughten became the wife of Samuel Vial (Joseph’s son) and later taught her own children and those of her neighbors in her own home on Joliet road near the present southeast corner of East Ave and Route 66, near where the current Hodgkins Police Department is located.
Sometime between 1854 and 1858 a little white school house was built at this location that was used until 1886. During that year, Samuel Vial gave an acre for a new school site at the northeast corner of East Avenue and Route 66, and a “permanent school house” was built on this site which is now the ODM Tool & Manufacturing area.
Another ten years passed and a one-room addition to the school was built to meet the needs of a growing population. Still later, this two-room school was torn down; a one story brick building was constructed and the two frame classrooms formed the second floor of the bigger school house. Fire then destroyed this building in March of 1918.
In November 1918, classes were resumed in a new school located about 40-50 feet back from where the old building had stood. It was known only as “the new school” until the spring of 1919 when County Superintendent of Schools Edward Tobin made his annual visit. Tobin called the school “Ideal” for the rural community and the name stuck.
By 1950, the school population of District 105 had increased from the recorded 279 in 1945 to a total enrollment of 728 children. Existing facilities at Ideal, Hodgkins and Seventh Avenue Schools had become overwhelmed. It was evident, further, that the entire community was experiencing a period of dynamic residential development at that time. Because of this, additional property was acquired and construction started on a new Ideal School on 58th Street, one block east of La Grange Road. The school building was completed and opened in 1952.
Since then, Ideal Elementary has gone through many modernizations of the facilities. Today, the school serves approximately 290 students and employs 60+ staff members. The school continues to be designated as “Commendable” by the Illinois Report Card.