It’s hard to watch a house come down


This house at 738 N. Central Ave. in West Duluth was ripped down yesterday to make way for the new Laura MacArthur Elementary School. I think the new school will be great, and I have no particular reason to be sentimental about this house or any of the others on the block, but there’s something that punches me in the gut when I watch a house get smashed to bits.


I have no clue who lived there, but I imagine all sorts of nice Norman Rockwell scenes playing out over several decades. For all I know, the place holds horrible memories for someone who was abused by alcoholic parents, but for some reason I imagine happy faces around a Christmas tree.


Here’s the view from Elinor Street, looking from Memorial Park across a portion of the property the new MacArthur will be on, with the old MacArthur in the background. This corner was the site of a pretty cool looking old church that had been converted into a home.

The only memories I have of that church/home is that I noticed several years ago while walking by when the basement lights were on that there was a nice pool room (not the swimming kind, the hitting little balls with a stick kind).

Also, that property had a Ness for Mayor sign up two years ago and someone, probably the property owner, altered it to read “Mess for Mayor.” (I like Don, but I still thought that was kind of funny.)

Anyway, to check out drawings for the new Laura MacArthur Elementary School, click here and wait for the PDF to slowly upload.

I’ll probably get more sentimental when the old school bites the dust, since I have a gazillion memories of my K-6 years at MacArthur. The southern wing of the building holds additional history as it was the Denfeld High School my grandfather attended before he dropped out like all the cool kids did in the early 1920s.



about 15 years ago

These pics remind me of Douglas Coupland's Canada House, a doc where he gets into a home about to be demo-ed, paints everything white and installs items all-Canada. It's an interesting doc.


about 15 years ago

Paul- I also will get sentimental when the old building gets torn down.  So many memories of being an actual child (still am a child just approaching middle age).


about 15 years ago

The MacArthur building always creeped me out, because as a kid, it was so easy to get lost.  I'd like the chance to explore the whole thing someday.

Denfeld creeped me out too, with the whole chain and shackles thing right inside the 4th st entrance.  It was that door just down the steps that basically said, "If you touch me, you will go to hell."


about 15 years ago

Oh, I forgot to mention the DHS "gargoyles" nicely floating above your walks through the halls between classes.

My ex-girlfriend was somewhat of a wiccan/pagan/confused/whatever and refused to take one step into the building.  A bit of an uber-paranoid about this particular thing.  The building does have a really strange gothic taste, I suppose.

I saw part of the tearing down of the houses across the street from DHS, and it looked like the fire department was doing controlled burns.  Some of those homes were in good shape beforehand.

I haven't read up on the MacArthur expansion yet.

Barrett Chase

about 15 years ago

I'm pretty sure the fire department does practice drills on houses just before they are torn down. At least that's what I've always assumed they were doing.


about 15 years ago

I'd much prefer they deconstruct it. Tear-down just seems to make trash.


about 15 years ago

I was really bummed about the house on the corner of Central and Elinor that used to be a church.  In large part because I never got to see the inside of it.  I always wondered what it was like on the inside.


about 15 years ago

I'm sure it's just an oversight on the part of the architect, but the image of the classroom only has twenty desks in it. I hope they're sizing the classrooms for the thirty or more students they will actually hold.

Barrett Chase

about 15 years ago

I would have like to have seen that church house on the inside, too. I think it had several apartments, or else one large "house" with one or two small rental units.


about 15 years ago

I somehow ended up at a party at the church house one night; it was all one house though several people lived there. It ws kind of cool in a sort of 70's kind of way.


about 15 years ago

when does the old macarthur get torn down? i want to pay my respects.


about 15 years ago

My husband always harbored a dream of buying that church-house and having it for our very own. He was very sad when I told him it was going to be demolished for a new MacArthur.


about 15 years ago

Who is "Laura Macarthur" anyway?


about 15 years ago

Driving by a few weeks ago, I was surprised to see the church torn down. One of my co-workers was baptized in that church when it was a church.

I like that when it was a home one of the residents tied Tibetan prayer flags to the outside stairs.


about 5 years ago

Mike Bowman lived in that house in the 1980s.  Unfortunately, he was killed in automobile accident in 2011.

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