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Former West Concord high school takes its place in history

WEST CONCORD, Minn. (FOX47) — The large, looming historic school in West Concord has just been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Built in 1902, the building served students from kindergarten through high school. It closed in 1994, and the school board wanted it demolished.

Seeing the building’s value, a group of West Concord residents petitioned the school board to let them take it over. The board agreed, and the group bought the school for $1.

Walking through the the doors, you can see the ornate, original woodwork. Different rooms in the building are dedicated to different parts of West Concord. All of the memorabilia has been donated to the society over the years by residents.

There are antiques including beds, dressers, stoves and vacuums. You can find wedding dresses from the turn of the century in the “Fashion Room.”

Wander over to the “Veterans Room” and you can find military uniforms dating back to WWI. All of the uniforms were once worn by a West Concord resident.

Those who went to the school can run their hands over the original desks that still sit in rooms there. Former students can reminisce about their high school days as they examine old band uniforms and letterman jackets from days gone by.

“If you want to know why things are the way they are now, you really have to look backwards to see the evolution,” West Concord Historical Society President Colleen Hayne said. “There was a time when this town was so booming. I remember when it had three grocery stores, two hardware stores and it had music stores. It had everything. There was a lot of the commerce and liveliness.”

Hayne said businesses left after the railroad stopped coming through the city in 1960s.

Hayne is tied to the school in many ways.

“My grandfather went to school here,” she said. “My mother and father graduated from here. I went to this school.”

Hayne took over as the president of the historical society in 2016.

Getting on National Register of Historic Places is an arduous process. It involves months of studying and examination by state and national historians. Last month, the society was notified it would be put on the register.

Being on the register will allow the society to obtain grants to help restore and preserve West Concord’s past. Some parts of the building are in need of repair as walls are crumbling. It will eventually need a new HVAC system, too.

Hayne said they are always looking for volunteers to catalogue and set up displays. To find out more, visit the West Concord Historical Society website.

Megan Zemple

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