Frank H. Hall (1841-1911) was a soldier, educator, businessman, inventor and author. He was born on February 9, 1841 in Mechanic Falls, Maine. Following his formal education in Maine, he served as hospital steward at Edward’s Ferry during the Civil War. After his discharge from the service, he became principal of Towle Academy in Maine.
In 1866, he left Maine and came to Illinois to become principal of the public school systems in Earlville, Sugar Grove, Petersburgh and Waukegan. He served as the second (1868-1875) and sixth (1887-1890) superintendent of the West Aurora Schools. He was instrumental in guiding the schools in a new direction and was respected throughout the country.
During his first term, Hall visited every home in the district to encourage parents to keep their children in school. Many older students left school because they had taken all of the subjects offered. So, the Superintendent developed an advanced course of study for these students. As a result, students began to return to the school. Five would comprise the first class to graduate from the West Aurora Schools in 1870.
During his tenure, the high school was accredited by Chicago University, forerunner to the University of Chicago. It was the first three-year high school to receive that honor.
Hall left Aurora to lead the Sugar Grove Normal and Industrial School which offered the traditional courses of study, as well as hands-on classes in dairying, raising stock, homemaking and the use and repair of equipment.
While in Sugar Grove, he lived above the general store. In addition to administering the school, he operated the store and the town’s boarding house, served as Sugar Grove’s postmaster and township treasurer, owned a lumberyard and creamery, and often preached sermons on Sundays. Hall remained at the school until his return to Aurora in 1887.
He was welcomed back by the citizens of West Aurora with great enthusiasm. Under his guidance, a new school was built on the northwest corner of Pennsylvania and Illinois Avenue. The school was named the Pennsylvania Avenue School. Hall left the district in 1890 to become Superintendent of the Illinois State School for the Blind in Jacksonville. In 1892, he invented the Braille typewriter. Interestingly, Hall never patented the typewriter because he felt “profit should not sully the cause of serving the blind.” Hall recalled meeting Helen Keller at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. She was overcome with gratitude to Hall for enriching her life with his inventions. Hall’s retelling of their meeting always brought tears to his eyes. Hall and his wife Sybil returned to Aurora in 1902. They were the parents of three children.
In the spring of 1910, he was diagnosed with diabetes and tuberculosis. He died in January 1911 and is buried in the West Aurora Cemetery in Aurora.
frank haven hall
Superintendent (1868-1875, 1887-1890)
Hall Elementary School
2001 Heather Dr. Aurora, IL 60506