Relics photo essay: Tearing down a school in Morris

For almost a decade, residents and officials in the small western Minnesota city of Morris tried to figure out a new use for the city’s former elementary school. Multiple citizens groups, consultants and studies yielded ideas from office space to a business incubator to a green housing complex. But none of the ideas bore fruit.

How communities grapple with old, empty, iconic buildings is the subject of our Ground Level project, Reviving Minnesota Relics.

“The building is beautiful,” said Sue Dieter, publisher of the Morris Sun Tribune and advocate for reusing the school. “Outside of the University of Minnesota campus, it’s one of the most interesting buildings architecturally in Morris.”

When the economy turned south, prospects dimmed for the school, which had been left unheated and repeatedly vandalized. In the end, when all the options were exhausted, the city hired a firm out of Michigan to demolish the school by the end of summer. “I think it’s almost like when somebody dies,” said city manager Blaine Hill. “It’s like they had a good life, time to move on.”

Location: Corner of E. 7th Street and Columbia Avenue