Durbahn, Walter Edward

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Durbahn, Walter Edward

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Walter Durbahn was born in New Ulm, Minnesota in 1894. He graduated from Stout (Wisconsin) Institute (now the University of Wisconsin-Stout) in 1916. He received both his Bachelors and Masters of Education degrees from Northwestern University in the 1920s. After teaching at high schools in Minnesota and Wisconsin, Durbahn joined the Vocational Department at Deerfield-Shields High School. By 1925 Durban led the Vocational Department at Deerfield-Shields High School (now Highland Park High School). Participating students built furniture, homes and educational buildings in Highland Park. He also taught Industrial Arts at Lake Forest Country Day School. Dubbing the homes the students built, "Boy-Built-Homes," Durbahn, his programs, and student-built homes received many awards from the Illinois Industrial Education Association and other organizations. Receiving national recognition for his programs, Durbahn participated in the President's Conference on Home Building and Home Ownership 1931 and many other technical education programs. From 1949-1957 Durbahn hosted the live do-it-yourself Walt’s Workshop WNBQ-TV. NBC broadcast the show in many other locations too. The show received yearly education awards such as “best educational and how-to-do-it” (twice) and from organizations including The Chicago Federation of Advertisers. Durbahn authored several books and many articles on carpentry and woodworking for publications as diverse as Popular Mechanics and Better Homes and Gardens. His Fundamentals of Carpentry and Walt’s Workshop : 42 Projects … for the Home continue to be in print or available online. He wrote a regular column in the serial publication Popular Homecraft in the 1850s. The Highland Park Historical Society hosted the Walter E. Durbahn Tool Museum, showcasing tools from the trade, from 1973 into the 1990s. The museum created this collection with donations from Durbahn and added elements in the same era Durbahn was married for seven decades to his wife Ruth. They had three daughters. He died in 1991.


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