This undated view of Bloomington High School’s Athletic Field is looking southeast. Opened in 1927, this facility was first known as Davis Field, named for U.S. Supreme Court Justice and Bloomington resident David Davis. In 1943 it was renamed Fred Carlton Field for a former BHS graduate and school custodian.
The small community of Anchor, located in the northeastern corner of McLean County, was once home to this attractive 1896 school building. In 1949, the neighboring rural communities of Anchor, Cooksville, and Colfax consolidated to form Octavia High School, which was located in Colfax.
For many years the biggest sporting event on the local calendar was the McLean County Basketball Tournament, which began way back in 1911. During the years before school consolidation, 20 or more McLean County high schools outside of Bloomington-Normal would battle it out for bragging rights as the county’s small school champion.There were 11 schools vying for the 1966 tourney title. On January 21, Octavia beat Lexington in the championship game before a packed Horton Field House crowd on the Illinois State University campus.
Bellflower Township High School in the southeastern corner of McLean County once boasted a fine collection of local history and natural history objects. This “museum” consisted of a set of display cases and wall exhibits featuring hundreds of items, including Native American relics, an American bison skull, pioneer-era homespun cloth, and even firearms.
For much of the 20th century, the McLean County Basketball Tournament was the highlight of the area’s sports calendar. he tournament featured the smaller high schools outside of Bloomington-Normal vying for bragging rights as the county’s best. Seen here is a typical tournament scene back in 1950, as standing-room-only crowds packed Illinois State Normal University’s McCormick Gymnasium to root their hometown boys on to victory.
Pictured here is the 1915 University High School football team. The “U Men" (the school nickname “Pioneers" was still a long way off) went 4-3-2 that season, with wins coming against Paxton, Urbana and Normal (twice); loses to Joliet, Decatur and Peoria Manual; and ties with Champaign and Springfield.