The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

July 8, 2013

To revive or raze: Sandstone grapples with empty icon

(Continued)

Griffith thinks the loss of a functioning school in town also took a toll. No longer do kids fill the streets on their way to class or parents stop into the Ben Franklin store while waiting for basketball practice to end. "The school has been the center of the community," he said. "Now the school is in the cornfield. All of the sudden, because it's not in town anymore, people aren't communicating."

"How do you adjust as a small town to changes when you don't have a center around which the community can revolve?" asked Griffith, who graduated from the old school and helped get it listed on the National Register of Historic Places. "This is something that represents the community and it's gone. What can you point to that symbolizes the town? You start to run out of things really quick."

In other words, there is a lot at stake in refurbishing it. "As long as that building is there," he said, "there is hope it can be reused and bring back some of that community togetherness everybody senses is missing."

The old school is burdened with mold on the floors, lead paint peeling from the walls, asbestos, dangling ceiling tiles, broken windows, free ranging pigeons and graffiti. The maple floor in the vintage auditorium has buckled from the heat and cold, its surface now as wavy as a rumpled sheet. Mysteriously, the main staircase has disappeared.

But the building has upsides, like the solid exterior walls made of native stone, enormous windows that look out on the town, high tin ceilings and pristine wooden doors and trim.

"We're having a hell of a time just giving the building away," said Griffith. But something has to happen, and soon. Letting it sit and further degrade brings liability concerns. Yet tearing it down would be costly for a town where residents already think taxes are too high. A few years ago, the city received a demolition estimate of over $700,000.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State, national news
  • Ellison urges Minn. to aid Central American minors ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A Minnesota congressman is leading efforts to bring more unaccompanied children fleeing Central America to the state. But, immigration advocates and nonprofit groups that serve refugees are concerned Minnesota might not be abl

    July 22, 2014

  • Detroit retirees back pension cuts by a landslide DETROIT (AP) — A year after filing for bankruptcy, Detroit is building momentum to get out, especially after workers and retirees voted in favor of major pension changes just a few weeks before a judge holds a crucial trial that could end the largest

    July 22, 2014

  • Closings set in Ventura's suit over sniper's book ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Closing arguments are set in former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura's defamation lawsuit against the estate of "American Sniper" author Chris Kyle. The case is expected to go to the federal jury in St. Paul after lawyers for both

    July 22, 2014

  • American Jews, other 'lone soldiers' serve Israel The two Americans killed in fighting in the Gaza Strip followed in the footsteps of scores of Jews from around the world who have volunteered to fight for Israel. Israel calls them the lone soldiers: They are men and women in the prime of their live

    July 22, 2014

  • 9 TC Rainbow stores to close Supermarkets to lose in Cottage Grove, Shoreview, Inver Grove Heights, Apple Valley, Blaine, Bloomington, Coon Rapids, Maple Grove and Savage

    July 21, 2014

  • Accelerants fuel fire; 2 rescued ST. PAUL — Two brothers were rescued from the upper floor of a St. Paul duplex in a fire that was fueled by cylinders of gas, oxygen and other accelerants. Authorities say the two were taken to Regions Hospital where one man is in critical condition

    July 21, 2014

  • Monticello doctor dies in cycle crash Patients among those mourning Dr. Eric Lefebvre's death

    July 21, 2014

  • Precautions urged for excessive heat, humidity MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Health officials are urging Minnesotans to take precautions in dealing with high temperatures and humidity. The National Weather Service says the humidity will make temperatures feel like 100 to 110 degrees Monday across much of M

    July 21, 2014

  • NASA names building for moonwalker Neil Armstrong NASA honored one of its most famous astronauts Monday by renaming a historic building at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It now bears the name of Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon when the Apollo 11 mission landed there 45 years

    July 21, 2014

  • Minnesota man loses relatives in airliner crash Drew Ryder of Willmar says victims included his brother, sister-in-law

    July 21, 2014