Wheaton Academy began in 1853 when a group of abolitionists founded Illinois Institute to educate their children. Two years later, they were given permission to form a college. Jonathan Blanchard was called upon to head the school and when he arrived in 1860, Illinois Institute was reorganized into Wheaton College and its preparatory school, Wheaton College Academy.
For fifty years the college and academy students were closely mingled; it was not until 1915 under Dean William Rice that Wheaton College Academy began to achieve its own identity by acquiring a separate faculty and building, known as Schell Hall on the Wheaton College campus today.
By 1945, Wheaton Academy outgrew that building and moved to its own 33-acre campus on Prince Crossing Road in West Chicago. The new campus provided dormitories for boarding students, while the Aurora & Elgin train line that ran just north of the school was convenient for commuters. By 1951 the facilities of the campus were complete, with the construction of LeTourneau Gymnasium and the chapel, which was transported from an army camp.
Though separate in faculty, the college was still financially responsible for Wheaton Academy until 1963. After that, support was gradually decreased until 1970, when the college decided that Wheaton Academy should be closed permanently. Parents and board members, however, were not willing to see the 117-year-old institution die and chose to continue the school themselves. It was renamed Wheaton Christian High School at that time. The first few years of independence were a tough transition, during which time the dormitories were closed and the enrollment suffered.
The school survived, and by the late seventies, it was once again thriving. An enrollment of over 300 students and the aged school building called for a new facility, which was realized in the Phase I and II building projects of 1979 and 1983. This is the main school building today. A section of the old building survives, known as Academy Hall, and is used for supplementary classrooms and storage space. After a land purchase in 1988, the campus is now 53 acres. In 1995, the school returned to the name Wheaton Academy. The name captures both the school’s heritage and the school’s vision.
Jonathan Blanchard wanted this school to be “For Christ and His Kingdom.” Today that same desire is worded “Soli Deo Gloria”: to God alone be the glory. For over a century and a half Wheaton Academy has been dedicated to education where God is central; today’s challenge is nurturing growth in our students through relationships, excellence, and service to the glory of God.