"Old" Morris Elementary School Site

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The City of Morris will be opening their newly built elementary school this Fall of 2005. As the city and surrounding community anticipates (some optimistic and pessimistic) this new school, residents are wondering what will be done with the "old" existing historic elementary school building.

Below are some "camera phone" pictures of the New Elmentary School being built-> (2/9/05) (2/9-southwest side corner) (1/29)

Public Meeting
Thursday, April 20th 2006 Meeting
Workshop Worksheets
Design Morris Website

I decided to make a website after frequent talks on this community issue starting from my attending the BCLP Retreat in Grand Rapids. I want to gather all the information in one site for easier overviews on this.

Possible Community Proposals Overheard/Proposed by Sal:

-housing for multi-purposes: half-way house for ex-convicts; shelter for the homeless, abused women, runaway children, etc..
-Prairie Renaissance Cultural Gallery to host classes through the Morris Community Ed here. Have extra room/space for art exhibits/displays. Also, to host annual concerts/events (e.g. Monroe Crossing)
-Morris Literacy Project to hold their ESL classes anytime during the week or teach Spanish to interested community members (adult, children, etc..)
-Arts and Crafts (e.g. scrap-booking) gatherings that can lead to a business
-Morris Community Church services on Sundays, which they no longer have to be constrained to a certain time anymore. Also, a list of other joint community activities=> ClearbrookSchoolreuseproject1.doc & MorrisCommunityChurchVisionfor1.doc written by Pat Franey, pastor.
*other churches that can be somewhat compared to this project->
Sanctuary Covenant's community/neighborhood outreach program called The Sanctuary Community Development Corporation
-Music Recording Studio for current and future music artists (e.g. Children 18:3, Rictus, Razin' Cain, 13th Floor, and other local bands) [How to Build a Small Budget Recording Studio from Scratch ... With 12 Tested Designs (Paperback)]
-a ethnic store with goods (such as "The Village Emporium", Quantum Connections International (based in Browerville, MN)
-a gathering place (e.g. Tempe Public Library, from "Planning for Success Ten Examples of Successful Library Collaborative Projects" (
"...offers special opportunities to bring families with young children together and to build social connections between older adults, young parents and relevant community services."
*see GoodnewsUSA.Info USA: Arizona
-Have community theater-performing arts programs, events, etc..

share your ideas here=>

Old Morris Elementary School Re-use Stevens County (Alberta, Chokio, Donnelly, Hancock, Morris) Community

What to do with the Old Elementary School Property

-have two/three story apartment buildings with bottom unit retail spaces (similar to Downtown St. Paul Riverfront Project: Lyon's Court Senior Affordable Housing 60 units w/ retail space on street level #11 (click button) or Prospect Park East River Road: Urbanism by the UofM Twin Cities Campus) for stores/restaurants (Mexican) that college students could walk to easily from the nearby UMM Campus. This might increase the city's economy with easy shopping/spending opportunities with college students-especially those that don't have a car!
-outdoor water park
-put a recreation center outside of the track for uses throughout the year for area children and youth to keep active.
-youth center
-a campus (see it to the University for tax deferred benefits and opportunities for the campus to grow!) and community collaborative central-neutral meeting place that hosts annual events that "all" are welcome:

  • Battle of the Bands
  • Praire Foods on the Prairie
  • CNIA Annual Pow Wow (attracts tribes from different reservations)
    -a catering venue that UMM Student Organizations can do their annual food events:
  • International Student Supper (usually at Food Service)
  • Taste of Asia (ussualy at Oyate Hall)
    *this would probably get a lot of UMM Student support because they are not allowed to cook their own food whenever they host "food events" because of legal contract agreements (e.g. food cook on campus needs to be prepared by Sodexho to prevent any lawsuits if "something bad happens"-something like this)
    -possible "office type mall" for local businesses, services, or organizations in "need of more space" (e.g. Salvation Army, Stevens County Mentoring Program, etc...)
    *there are probably countless needs in the community that we still don't know about that can probably be met if we communicate/network in "putting" our individual needs on the table to let the whole community know. We should take a survey/questionaaire and ask the "whole" community what are you biggest needs/priorities. Then make a list and share this with the community as a whole to see if we could put our heads/resources together to help each other-"work together"! This would positively model our youth and younger generations in the future that when we "work together"-we can accomplish our community goals!

    I believe if there is a collaborative community effort by local organizations, businesses, churches, etc..., we can keep the old elementary school and help preserve this historical state site that will please the Stevens County Historical Society

    Email UPdates:

    Plan Approval - MPCA Grant Closeout
    Monday, May 24, 2010 10:50 AM

    "To all:

    In preparation for the final report on the MPCA Grant for the elementary school project, it is my intention to present the final plan to the City Council for approval at their regular meeting on June 8th. This is the plan Adam Arvidson from Treeline, Inc. submitted to us and the one that recently was awarded an honor by the Landscape Architects Association.

    No, this does not mean the City approves the development of the elementary school property as a "Green Neighborhood". It means we asked Treeline, Inc. and Stahl Architects to design a green neighborhood with green housing designs. This is exactly what they did.

    I realize we still had a couple of issues to hammer out (lot widths), but it doesn't really matter. At some point, if we decide to move forward with a residential development project, we can discuss that issue and others prior to platting the property. This plan will be on the shelf as an example of what can be done.

    I think it is important to finalize the grant. I will be looking at a couple of slight modifications to the budget based upon what we were able to achieve. I think we can tweak it a bit through a request for an amendment. One issue for sure is the cost of surveying the property to get the necessary data to lay out the design.

    I don't believe we need to meet further, but I wanted to make your aware of my plan before you read about it in the City Council news.

    (City of Morris Manager *email him to be part of his regular email updates if interested in this community project

    GoodnewsMorrisInfo's Old Morris Elementary School Demolition Summer album on Photobucket

    Recommended Resources


  • Morris Partnership

  • *referred by Morris Sun Tribune (Mar 07')
  • Project Path, made by COPC's Joe Basel
  • COPC Grant, 1 of 5 committees/projects of grant focusses on the reuse of the "old" elem school bldg
  • Morris Elementary School Reuse , prepared by Thomas R. Zahn & Associates
  • Morris Quality Schools
  • Articles

  • Officials guage local interest in elementary site Tom Larson, Editor 02/23/2005
  • Real estate development and a somewhat limited building reuse appear to be the logical fate of the Morris Area Elementary School.

    And while there is local interest in the property, a St. Paul consulting firm will continue courting outside interests for the 17-acre property on Columbia Avenue.

    A group of Morris citizens met with a St. Paul consulting firm late last week to discuss the elementary school site, which will be vacated this fall when a new $27 million elementary school opens adjacent to the high school.

    ?There?s potential for local involvement,? said Craig Rapp, vice president of Springsted Inc., which has contracted with the school district to market the property. ?We talked about what might be possible from a local perspective.?

    Rapp met with nine local business people and representatives of the school board, the City of Morris and the University of Minnesota, Morris in what Rapp terms a ?roundtable? discussion with local brokers and leaders.

    Various developers in the Twin Cities area also have been contacted about their potential interest in the property, Rapp said.

    Springsted will meet again with school district officials to discuss the project in about a month, Rapp said.

    Late last year, Rapp and Mike Hoheisel, of Springsted Inc., discussed the elementary school project with the Morris school board, outlining a timeframe and potential future uses for the elementary school property, which this summer was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

    After that meeting, the district set up a reuse committee comprised of school and community members in an attempt to identify and maintain the property?s ties as a communal entity.

    The primary task will be getting the property, which costs about $20,000 per month to operate, off the district?s hands and books.

    ?The goal is to make sure the school district doesn?t have to hang onto the property any longer that it has to,? Rapp said.

    Because of the large open acreage available around the building, single-family homes, townhouses or multi-family dwellings appear to make the most sense, Rapp said.

    Reusing the building presents a more difficult challenge, he said.

    The elementary school is comprised of several different components built at different times, some with more desirable reuse qualities than others.

    It?s likely some of the building would be demolished, Rapp said.

    City involvement also will be crucial to the future of the property, Rapp said, mostly during the decision-making process and possibly through some type of financing.

    ?The main things we?re looking at is expansion of the neighborhood and some demolition and reuse of the building,? Rapp said. ?But that will be the hard part, right there.?

    Morris area realtor Tom Hoffman echoed those sentiments.

    ?It?s a big, expensive building to tear down, and then you have to figure out what to do with the land,? Hoffman said. ?It?s a delicate balance between supply and demand in housing. A lot of people could be hurt if you don?t do the right thing.?

    Before any of that is a concern, however, the school district and UMM must reach agreement on the university?s right of first refusal option connected to the 17-acre parcel. Although university officials have informally stated UMM has no interest in the property, Morris schools Superintendent Scott Monson said the district still is working to secure a legal document.

    The district also must convince developers it will be worth their time and money, said school board member Vance Gullickson.

    Suitable uses need to be identified for at least a portion of the building, and a developer would encounter expenses for demolition and cleanup of a building which has portions nearing 100 years old, he said.

    ?I feel more positive at this point in time that we can find a fit,? Gullickson said. ?But we?re still just doing preliminary ground work to find out the local and non-local interest. We don?t want to leave any rock unturned.?

    What becomes a legend most?

    Editor?s note -- This is the first in a series dealing with reuse issues of the former Morris Area Elementary School building.

    By Philip Drown
    Sun Tribune

    Determining the best way to reuse the old Morris Area Elementary School building is no easy task, but it is one the City of Morris appears ready to tackle.
    When the city?s Economic Development Authority made the decision to purchase 17.5 acres of land from the school district in May, which included the elementary school building, it did so with eyes wide open to the challenges and the possibilities.
    ?What?s more important in the city?s eyes is the acreage situated in the middle of town,? said Morris City Manager Ed Larson. ?How we develop that is very important to the city.?

    Larson, along with many others in the community, hopes that development will be a combined public and private effort. In the coming months, the city will assemble a committee of people able to explore the issues and make solid recommendations.
    ?We want to bring some people together to help guide the development of that property,? said Larson. ?An opportunity like this comes along once in a lifetime. We?ll need a lot of voices at the table giving their input.?

    Should tax payers be concerned that the city?s decision to maintain and redevelop the building rather than demolish it right away will translate into a long term draw on their personal income? Not at all, according to Larson.

    ?We?re looking for the most favorable arrangement for the city,? Larson said. ?We want to minimize what costs are there and show a little profit, if possible.?

    But, if the school district can?t afford to maintain the building, how can anyone else? The answer is that while the building may be beyond the limits of one public entity to maintain alone, plans on the table for reuse may be more economical in the long term. The key lies in the current strategy to share the burden of the whole by dividing it among many. The city intends to parcel out pieces of the building to other independent and interested parties through land sales, leases, or other arrangements. The city will be seeking ways to develop the building and the land that will offset costs and bring in revenue, rather than add more tax burdens to the community, Larson said. ?We?re lining up ideas to explore,? Larson said. ?Finding out what?s out there and who?s interested.?

    The central location and the historical nature of part of the building make it a prime space for redevelopment. The building and property are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. While any project dealing with the property is still in the early exploration phase and many questions still need answers, there has been no shortage of people seeking ways to utilize the building.

    A proposal has already come forth from a local church interested in taking over the historic auditorium and part of the old high school for services, classes, and ministries.
    Another proposal, from two University of Minnesota, Morris professors, deals with other portions of the building. The ?business incubator? proposal would channel local resources such as UMM, the West Central Research and Outreach Center, the Soils Lab, and others into a program dedicated to growing innovative businesses that would employ local people and generate long term revenue.
    Further, Morris?s recent application to the Minnesota Design Team, spearheaded by the Center for Small Towns, highlighted the potential school building and property reuse as ?the largest reuse project in the history of the city.?

    The Minnesota Design Team is a group of volunteer architects, landscape architects, urban engineers and community planners who help communities build on their strongest assets through community design and planning. Larson indicated that the most developed proposal at the moment is from Morris Community Church. MCC has been meeting in the old auditorium for eights years, after outgrowing their old building. MCC would lease from the city but be responsible for all associated costs of using the property, including maintenance and renovation expenses. However, if no viable projects come forth and no one is willing or able to utilize the building, the city will not be shackled with a boat anchor. They are considering options for all contingencies, including demolition.

    The city is currently approaching legislators to include a request for $800,000 in the 2006 bonding bill. The request is something of a fail-safe to cover worst-case scenarios if no building reuse options work out. ?Those funds would defray the cost of demolition of the school,? said Larson. If the historical parts of the school are utilized, that would reduce the total demolition cost of the remainder, Larson said.

    In the mean time, there is no rush to act without clear thinking. Transfer of ownership will take place Nov. 1, but the city will have a few years to work out details. The building can be maintained at minimum levels, enough to keep the grass cut and the pipes from bursting in winter, for a dollar amount far below previous estimates, Larson said. ?At the bare minimum, the lease from the church will defray the cost of maintaining the building,? he said.

    The power of an idea: School site ripe for innovation

    Editor?s note -- This is the third story in a series dealing with reuse issues of the former Morris Area Elementary School building.

    By Philip Drown Sun Tribune

    Some of Minnesota?s most enduring institutions and significant legacies began with the moment someone seized an opportunity, no matter how unlikely, and said, ?Hey, I have an idea!?

    The day Earl Bakken and his brother-in-law decided to set up a business in an old railroad boxcar was the day of humble beginnings for Medtronic, Minnesota?s well-known designer of innovative electronic medical devices. Or, the day William McKnight took over a company on the verge of bankruptcy called Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing. With vision and creativity, McKnight took someone else?s black hole and turned it into 3M, the world?s leading supplier of coated abrasive materials. When it comes to bringing forth possible reuses of the former Morris Area Elementary School building, the City of Morris is clearing the table and opening its ears to hear new ideas from creative people.

    At a City Council meeting in June, just such an idea came forward during the citizens comments portion of the agenda. Sylke Boyd stood up and spoke of an idea she hatched with her husband, Kevin, suggesting reusing portions of the school to develop businesses by turning it into a ?business incubator.?

    ?It seemed like things were moving very fast with the school at the time,? said Sylke. ?Kevin had written this proposal. I showed it to a couple of colleagues and they were very excited about it. We figured we had to submit this now.?

    The Boyd?s proposal suggests using the newer portions of the building and forming a non-profit organization called the Morris Area Corporate Innovation Association.
    The building would serve as a ?center for providing office and small laboratory space, along with shared resources and waste management pools to small and new businesses,? according to the proposal.
    The basic concept of a business incubator, in general terms, is a simple one. Enterprising people with ideas for potential business can apply to enter a program that is operated by an organization, usually a collaboration of local government, educational and business institutions.
    Such a program will often provide various tools to help the entrepreneur navigate legal issues required for setting up and managing the business. It will also provide space to operate, on-going business counseling and assistance, and shared use of resources such as support staffing and equipment. The end result is that local businesses that provide jobs to local people are given local support and encouragement to grow locally. Eventually, they might grow large enough to leave the nest that has nurtured them and expand into other space in the community.
    Kevin Boyd, a professor of chemistry at the University of New Orleans, has been thinking about this idea for a year -- ever since Sylke began teaching at the University of Minnesota, Morris. He took note of the many resources, agricultural, educational, research, medical, and sheer talent in the area and saw potential.
    ?It occurred to me that there so much brain power around here,? said Kevin. ?A lot of things going on.?

    Said Sylke, ?We thought this might be a good proposal because it is one that would actually bring in something to the city.?

    ?Or at least keep it here rather than having people go to the Cities or Chicago or wherever they?re going to create things,? added Kevin. The Boyd?s proposal, a document of about fourteen pages, lays out a strategy to form this incubator. It suggests who should be involved, what types of businesses could be developed, what may be required to refit the school building, what it would cost, how it could be operated, and where the money would come from.
    According to the proposal, the cost would be $17 million over a 10 year period to refit the building for operation, insure and maintain the building, and supply it with a director and staff.

    According to the Boyd?s, up to 75 percent of that price tag could be covered by government grants available through the Economic Development Administration of the Department of Commerce. The remaining 25 percent could be covered by grants to private foundations and other means.

    Now, does all this mean the City of Morris is making plans to enter into a risky new venture in business start-ups? Of course not. And, for that matter, neither are Kevin and Sylke Boyd. According to the Boyds, this proposal is an initial idea with a little structure, but it contains enough detail to generate some ideas. They mainly hoped to get the idea on the table and allow it to become part of the discussion.
    The core of the proposal is that the Boyd?s looked around Morris with fresh eyes and saw opportunity. If and how such an idea might play out in the end will be determined by the unique nature of Morris as a community and whether or not community leaders found a significant economic pay-off in the future. In the end, if there are no proposals, there will be no reuse. And that is an option few would like to see occur.

  • Grant allows city to move ahead on school property redevelopment Morris Sun Tribune Published Thursday, April 24, 2008

  • "The City of Morris will seek Requests for Proposals from landscape and structural architects to plan the redevelopment of the elementary school property, and demonstration homes could be going up on the land by next summer.
    The Morris City Council approved the measure at its meeting Tuesday night.
    Earlier this spring, the city was chosen to receive a grant of almost $24,000 to formulate reuse possibilities for the 17.7-acre property.
    The Morris Eco-Friendly Affordable Housing Demonstration Project will explore plans for affordable ?green? building on the site. The grant is $23,750. The city will contribute about $10,100 in in-kind services. The grant period is May 2008 through June 2010.
    The grant will be used initially to pay for the architectural work and develop plans for new ?green? demonstration houses.
    The grant was written by the School Property Redevelopment Committee, formerly known as the Elementary Re-use Committee. The committee has reviewed ideas for draft RFPs and will meet again in early May to finalize the requests. They will be issued in early May.
    City Manager Blaine Hill said the vision for the property is a new neighborhood based on energy and user efficiencies. Hill also said he believes people will be interested in moving to Morris to live in a neighborhood based on ?green? principals, and that research through the University of Minnesota, Morris will be another benefit of such a neighborhood.
    ?This is a neighborhood that?s going to be different,? Hill said.
    The ?eco-friendly? design will include at least two demonstration houses that will feature the state-of-the-art in ?green? building, Hill said.
    Once the designs are finalized, additional funding will be sought to build the homes, and Hill stated its possible construction could begin as early as summer 2009.
    The committee believes education about ?green? building concepts will be a key element to redeveloping the property, and members also have compiled a list of architects that will be invited to submit proposals, Hill said.
    RFP are expected to be submitted by the end of May and that architects will be selected in June. Design work is anticipated to be completed by October 2008.
    Selling the concepts will take work, Hill said.
    ?It?s going to take a change of thought,? he said.
    See this report and the April 26 Sun Tribune for more information on this and other council action from Tuesday night."

  • Morris school plan wins award, Published March 31 2010

  • The landscape architectural plan for the former Morris Area Elementary School site receives a first-place award for Planning and Analysis from the Minnesota chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects
    " The Morris Affordable Green Neighborhood master plan was awarded the highest honor in the Planning and Analysis category of this year's Minnesota landscape architectural design awards.
    The landscape plan for the former Morris Area Elementary School property was developed by Adam Regn Arvidson, of Treeline. The building plan was created by Stahl Architects.
    The project was ranked as the No. 2 project in Minnesota by the Minnesota chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects, and the award will be presented at the chapter’s annual banquet on April 23 at the International Market Square in Minneapolis.
    The Minnesota Chapter of the ASLA presented 11 total awards in five categories, including five in the Planning and Analysis category.
    The awards were judged by an out-of-state jury, who awarded one Award of Excellence (the highest honor) and one honor award, across all categories.
    "So not only is MASLA recognizing our project as the best in our category, but as the second-best project overall by a Minnesota landscape architecture firm in 2010, built or unbuilt,” Arvidson said.
    "This is, of course, a great honor, and would not have been possible without (the Morris area’s) contributions and tough questions,” Arvidson said.
    According to Treeline, the redevelopment plan proposes a neighborhood that is environmentally and socially sustainable, and is affordable to construct and maintain. This is, by definition, the affordable green neighborhood. Earth moving (grading) is minimized, in order to save cost, maintain soil integrity, and reduce fossil fuel consumption during construction.
    The overall layout is designed as a logical extension of the surrounding neighborhoods, so that the new development will be embraced as part of the city, rather than noticed as a strange interloper. Lots are 50 feet wide, both to match the surrounding neighborhoods and to minimize infrastructure cost through urban density.
    Stormwater management is incorporated into the site planning, through permeable pavement in alleys and parking areas and stormwater bioswales in parkway medians. Open space and vegetation figure prominently in the plan, with two different park areas, extensive street tree plantings, and more than two acres of prairie restoration. "


  • Morris City Council takes first step towards demolishing old elementary school building By: Tom Larson and Kim Ukura, Morris Sun Tribune Published January 14, 2012, 05:00 AM

  • Attempts to reuse the old Morris Area Elementary School have apparently been exhausted, it’s becoming an increasingly dangerous public safety risk and the costs for getting rid of potential environmental problems could rise soon.
    "MORRIS, Minn. - Attempts to reuse the old Morris Area Elementary School have apparently been exhausted, it’s becoming an increasingly dangerous public safety risk and the costs for getting rid of potential environmental problems could rise soon. At their meeting Tuesday, the Morris City Council took the first step down the long road to address the problem by passing a resolution authorizing City Manager Blaine Hill to complete an Environmental Assessment Worksheet, which is necessary because the building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. Council members Jeff Miller and Bill Storck, along with Mayor Sheldon Giese, voted in favor of the measure. Council member Twig Webster was absent from the meeting, and council member Matt Carrington abstained. The question of what to do with the building has been on the city's plate since the city purchased the building from the school district for $1 in 2005. The property, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004, was the focus of redevelopment plans in the intervening years, the most recent of which won a statewide architectural award. “The whole reason that the city bought the property was the idea that it could be reused for something,” said Hill. “Four studies later, there was a determination made that there probably isn't a good use for the building.” The economic downturn of 2008, which put a damper on investments in residential property and redevelopment, was “probably the death nail” for plans to reuse the old building, said Hill. As time as passed, Morris police have often complained that vandalism and damage have reached the point that the building is not only becoming an eyesore but a public safety and health hazard. Hill estimates that removing asbestos will cost $300,000 and that total demolition will cost about $800,000 (not including any state and county disposal fees the project might incur). Troy Engebretson, of Engebretson Sanitary Disposal and Demolition Landfill, said that removing lead paint also could prove to be a difficult and costly endeavor. Once the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency begins to examine the building, other disposal snags might be encountered regarding such things as mercury switches and light fixtures, he said. “I have no clue what it might cost,” Engebretson said, “but it’s going to be expensive. The MPCA will have to make some bid decisions when the time comes.” Morris Police Sgt. Ross Tiegs said vandals have done extensive damage to the building and that it often is broken into. Officers used to make routine walk-throughs of the building but not any more. “There’s so much debris, broken glass and mold in there,” Tiegs said. “It’s really deteriorating. We used to do walk-throughs but now we won’t go into the building unless we think there’s actually somebody in there.” But while the city has more or less determined what has to be done, figuring out the timeline for demolition and how to pay for the work will remain a challenge. The Environmental Assessment Worksheet is the first step towards being able to legally demolish the building. The EAW is a six page report that describes the project and is distributed to state and federal agencies for comments. After a 30-day comment period, the council will decide if further environmental assessment needs to happen. If not, the city will be clear to tear down the building. Based on a timeline that Hill provided to the council on Tuesday, the earliest this city could be authorized to tear down the building is July 2012. When you add in the time for drawing up demolition plans and bidding out for a contractor, it's likely the project won't begin until 2013. According to Hill, the next step – which could happen concurrently with the EAW – is to advertise the property to potential developers. Typically, a developer will make a proposal for review by the city that includes both the cost and what the developer's plans for the property are. In the first round of advertisement, Hill said the proposal would have to include a plan for what to do with the old building. “You never know, you might find somebody that's interested in it,” said Hill. Advertising the property would “close another door,” and give the city the knowledge to move ahead with a demolition plan. Another challenge will be to find a way to finance the demolition project. The city considered selling bonds to pay for the demolition but that’s really not a feasible solution. The State of Minnesota requires that, if the city is not assessing taxpayers for at least 20 percent of the project, it can’t use General Obligation special assessment or improvement bonds. Standard General Obligation bonds can be used but then the sale of the bonds must be approved by a public vote, Hill said. The city also could create a Tax Increment Financing district. Hill said this is a likely solution, where the city would back the Tax Increment Bond with its general taxing authority if there is not a developer for the property. A Tax Increment Bond usually stays open between 15 and 25 years, depending on the project. “I anticipate the property will be sold fairly quick and that things will probably start developing on the property,” said Hill. "
  • Historic Morris School Could Soon Be Torn Down with Little Opposition Search Updated: 02/23/2012 10:27 PM

  • "MORRIS, Minn. (KSAX) - A Morris landmark could soon be torn down, after years of trying to find buyers. The old Morris Elementary school building opened in 1914, and had four additions built on over the years. Dave Stoffer worked as building manager there for more than a decade. "It's a historical landsite and ... it is nice to look at and see when you drive by, and think of the memories," Stoffer said. A model of how school buildings have progressed over time, it was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. But just eight years later, the now vacant and crumbling school house could soon become history itself. "It's an old building that's rundown. It's not heated, there's potential issues with mold, mildew, all kinds of things that are hazardous to you (and) we know there's asbestos in there," Morris City Manager Blaine Hill said. The Morris School District left the building in 2005, selling it to the city for one dollar. But after several failed attempts to find a use or buyer to renovate it, officials said tearing it down may be their only option. Although it's no longer heated, city officials said there is some cost to police the area and board up windows broken by vandals. A vote passed, to complete an Environmental Assessment Worksheet, the first step to tear it down, but an $800,000 demolition price through tax dollars and grants won't be easy to come up with either. "The biggest challenge is to find money to deal with it. Whether it's originally, to redevelop it, in this case, to tear it down," Hill said. Stoffer said its time as passed; a view shared by many in the community. "It would be a shame to see it disappear and go down, but in my opinion, I think that's the best choice," he said. Hill said the assessment is still being worked on, but demolition could begin as soon as this summer. Written for the web by Joe Nelson. "


    After the Morris Design Team's Presentation this past weekend (October 14th-15th of 2005), I wanted to do a short review of what I heard on the Elem School Property...

  • City of Northfield

  • *I had the opportunity to visit this city and it's colleges when I was a prospective high school student back in 1995. I was amazed of the arhitecture, which drew my interest here!
    Related Links:
    Visiting Northfield

    Center for Rural Design

    It's March 28th 2006, and I just took some pictures of a residential/city park (Capitol Plaza South-subsidized housing) by St. Paul's Capitol on Marion St./I-94 intersection (west of Sears). I thought this might serve as a good example of a proposed "memorial/sculputre garden" (e.g. Minneapolis' ) at the Elementary School Property by the expanded cemetery.

    -Related Sites:
    Sculpture Gardens: Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden-Smithsonina (Washington, D.C.), Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum (Austin, TX), Broken Green (Murrells Inlet, SC)
    Memorial Gardens: Children's Memorial Garden (Manitoba, CA), Lincoln Memorial Gardent (Springfield, IL), Gill Memorial Garden-episcopal church (Pine Meadow, CT) Event Hosting Gardens: Japanese Garden (Normandale Community College)

  • Beardsley Property in Big Stone, MN
  • Partners for Livable Communities

  • Contact: Robert McNulty (referred on 5/18/06)



  • Community Facilities Programs, from Rural Development

  • *House of Hope (housing for recovery) in Mankato
  • Neighborhood Networks

  • *referred by COPC: Baltimore Conference 2006; Contact: Heather Starcher of Aspen Systems Corporation in Rockville, MD

    Models-Examples of other Communities

  • Greenwood Elementary School, in Seattle, Washington
  • Liverpool's Old School Building, in Pennsylvania
  • School district has plans for old M.L. elementary, from Cheney Free Press in Washington state
  • Town of Cary, (pdf format)

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