University High School, designed in "Collegiate Gothic" style by the notable Chicago Firm of Holabird and Roche, was built in 1916-1918. It opened as a practice high school for the College of Education on September 21, 1921, with about one hundred pupils enrolled. Eighty youngsters were from Urbana-Champaign and the remainder were university students registered to take the same classwork and observe teaching methods. In its years as a secondary school, it has played a role in innovative and progressive pedagogical experimentation of national importance.
Terminating the bays high over the main entrance to the structure is the carved limestone allegorical group Science and the Arts by Charles A. Beil and Leon Hermant, Chicago sculptors. The woman to the left holding a sphere represents Science, while the other, with a lyre, represents the Arts. Both are modeled in classic French Beaux-Arts style, with ample forms, voluminous, heavy drapery, and an elegant, easy grace. Between them is the open Book of Knowledge illuminated by the Lamp of Learning. High up on the north and south ends of the building and also at the peak of its west entrance stand beasts holding shields before them. Their creators are unknown.
Hermant came to the States to work at the French pavilion at the 1904 St. Louis exposition. After fighting for his native France in World War I, he returned to settle permanently in Chicago. Taft said of him that he was "exceptionally prepared for important work." Hermant's commissioned pieces include the Louis Pasteur Memorial, now in a park in front of Cook County Hospital, for which he received the French Cross of the Legion of Honor, and the 72-foot-long Olympian Games Frieze for the Illinois Athletic Club, Chicago; the Logan Memorial, Murphysboro, lllinois; and the Calvert Street Bridge Reliefs in Washington, D.C. Beil and Herrnant created large reliefs for the Medinah Athletic Club (505 South Michigan Avenue) and panels symbolizing Labor for the Cook County Building (North Clark Street), both in Chicago. The two artists were awarded medals at the 1900 Paris and 1904 St. Louis expositions.