Parents of students at United Township High School would have approved of Friday’s spring break trip.
The more than 60 students from the East Moline school, led by history teacher Heather Monson, spent the day traveling through the Quad-Cities to check out the
historical sites the area has to offer.
The group visited several places, such as Butterworth Center and Deere-Wiman House and Lagomarcino’s in Moline, Ross’s Restaurant in Bettendorf and Campbell’s Island in East Moline.
Monson said the aim of the trip was to help students develop an interest in local history.
“I want the kids to know that they live in a very vital part of country,” she said.
By the afternoon, they took a walking tour of downtown Rock Island, where Monson pointed out the old stomping grounds of infamous local gangster John Looney.
Monson took them past the VanDerGinst Building, then known as the Best Building, where Arthur Meader, the former manager of the Illinois Life Insurance Co., plunged to his death on Jan. 9, 1922.
Meader reportedly owed a gambling debt to Looney, who left the building only moments before Meader’s death. It is believed he was killed by two of Looney’s henchmen.
The story caught the attention of sophomore Caela Williams, 16, who did not know about Looney before Friday’s tour.
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“John Looney just seemed really clever by leaving before the man was thrown out of the window,” she said.
Caela said she had no idea that the Quad-Cities had such a rich, yet sometimes scandalous, history.
“I can’t believe I live in a place that was run by the mafia,” she said.
Matt Osborne, 18, a senior, liked Butterworth Center and the Deere-Wiman House.
“The architecture was really detailed and really old,” he said. “It’s amazing that it’s lasted this long.”
The trip is part of the Lights ON for Learning program, funded through the U.S. Department of Education, which encourages schools and organizations in the community to form partnerships to provide extracurricular opportunities for students.