Consolidation left the old Henry Hill public school in Glencoe, west of the Twin Cities, vacant and without a purpose. City leaders determined that it was cheaper to tear it down than to renovate it. Yet, that’s not what they did. Instead, they raised more than $5 million to turn it into a library, government building and event center.
“We spent a couple of years working on different ideas,” said Mark Larson, Glencoe city administrator, who works in the old superintendent’s office with an original oak coat closet. “We kept coming back to a city and community use… (We) heard from the community that they didn’t want to see the building disappear.”
How small cities grapple with old, iconic buildings is the subject of the Ground Level project, Reviving Minnesota Relics.
The community was so engaged in the project, Larson said it drew over 500 donations, some as small as $10. “The biggest reason (to save it was) we don’t have a lot of buildings with architectural integrity in the community for whatever reason,” he said. “They have either been torn down or burned down.”
Noting that the former school sits on the spot originally platted for a Glencoe town square, he said, “This has become the community meeting place.”
Location: 1107 11th St. E.