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In Mahrenholz II, it was held that "school purpose" is indeed an ambiguous term, and in the context of a deed, undefined by case law. (125 Ill. App. 3d at 626-27, 466 N.E.2d at 327.) It does not, however, require the actual holding of classes. (125 Ill. App. 3d at 628, 466 N.E.2d at 328.
This appeal arises from an action to quiet title to a 1 1/2-acre tract of land located in Lawrence County, Illinois. The controversy stems from the original conveyance of the land by W.E. and Jennie Hutton in 1941 to the Trustees of Schools of District Number One of the town of Allison (defendants' predecessor in interest) by warranty deed "to be used for school purpose only; otherwise to revert to Grantor." The school district subsequently built a school on the site, commonly known as Hutton School. The Huttons then conveyed the adjoining farmland and their reversionary interest in the school site to the Jacqmains, who in turn conveyed their interest to plaintiffs in 1959. The 1 1/2-acre school site sits in the middle of plaintiffs' farmland. After the other property was no longer used for a school, the school board used it to store school equipment. The property owners brought an action against the school board to quiet title to the other property. The trial court ruled that the property owners failed to prove that they were in possession of the premises and that the site was no longer being used for school purposes.
Did storage of school property constitute a legitimate "school purpose"?
The court affirmed, holding that the property was not abandoned for school purposes so as to invoke the reverter clause. Notwithstanding the conflicting evidence at trial, the court cannot say that the trial court's determination that defendants' use of Hutton School in this instance constitutes a legitimate "school purpose" is against the manifest weight of the evidence. The court, sitting as a court of review, will not substitute its judgment for that of the trial court when faced with conflicts in the evidence and issues of the credibility of witnesses.