R.I.P. Lester Park Elementary

A few snapshots from today’s demolition. I’m not sure how far they got, I could only stay about 15 minutes.

The new building is apparently more or less done. It is right next to the old building in a space where there used to be a skating rink and a fairly decent (but quick) sled run.

26 Comments

markryan

about 10 years ago

Jesus. I went to kindergarten there. Miss Hanson was the teacher. And the skating rink. Many a memorable afternoon and evening spent there. The smell of wool gloves on the warming shack stove. Chasing girls around the rink, nabbing their hats. The excruciating pain of my feet thawing out in my skates. All great memories. All gone now. Thanks for posting the pictures.

Lakesider

about 10 years ago

I also checked out the "demolition" and was so very saddened by the structure still left in the building; Lockers, classroom doors, large Chalkboards, molding around the door frames ... why were things not completely gutted? Seems such a senseless waste for that sort of "stuff" to be demolished and left for the landfill. Who dropped the ball?

Sarah Kelly

about 10 years ago

I went to this school for K-2nd grade before moving away. Every time I've been in Duluth I wanted to go walk through the old school, it was such an awesome building. I too have many memories of my years there. I happened to be here to see them start the demolition and I was very saddened at the thought I'll never get my chance to tour the building one more time. The guy working the hose was nice enough to give me a brick from the building to take home to TX with me.

Mildred

about 10 years ago

I agree, it seems obvious that a lot of materials in there could be salvageable and useful. At a time when the city is bankrupt, indeed our entire country's government is - and we're pushing nature and our own health to the limits extracting natural resources - people could be a bit more smart about not wasting what we already have?

2nd or 3rd school they've torn down here recently, and I find it hard to believe that the entire process is efficient in any way.

Jay

about 10 years ago

No need to worry. All the old school buildings that are being torn down are (or were) gone through for salvageable materials.

Bret

about 10 years ago

Do you know where the salvaged materials ended up?  I'd love a little wood framed chalkboard (like the one that was in the gym).

Lakesider

about 10 years ago

From what I heard a "select" group of people were invited to salvage/take what they wanted. I guess they did not see the value in the doors and lockers. Such a loss.

Paul Lundgren

about 10 years ago

Courtesy of PDD's Fairy Research Spy, here's the 1917 Notice to Contractors for Lester Park School.

Paul Lundgren

about 10 years ago

Here's an article from back when they didn't need no fancy new schools. And by "fancy new schools" I mean the one that was just torn down.

Duluth News Tribune, Oct. 7, 1895

Paul Lundgren

about 10 years ago

Here's one from July 16, 1916, when the school district was acquiring land for Lester Park Elementary:

Paul Lundgren

about 10 years ago

By Nov. 23, 1916, plans were coming together:

Paul Lundgren

about 10 years ago

And finally, from the April 3, 1918, Duluth News Tribune:

LakesideMama

about 10 years ago

Umm, Jay. I hope that's sarcasm, because I'm standing in front of the school right now, and I see so many salvageable things and materials. It's very sad and very frustrating. I wonder if the hose guy would give me three or four of those awesome lockers?

wildgoose

about 10 years ago

LakesideMama I'm pretty sure Jay is being sarcastic.  I too was fairly mortified to see blackboards, bulletin boards and more in plain sight from the sidewalk.  Who knows what they have done with the plumbing, heating and IT infrastructure.  In a resource, cost-conscious world those things should be re-usable.  As for those wonderful bricks, I would love a few pickup loads full of them for landscaping or even a little sauna in my backyard.  If Mrs. Goose would let me, that is.

Karasu

about 10 years ago

Is it still standing? Shall we organize a midnight raiding party? I want flooring!

johnm

about 10 years ago

At North Shore Architectural Antiques, we try to keep track of buildings scheduled for demolition.  Some slip through and some contractors not only don't care, but seem to relish smashing these old treasures.  If you hear of pending demolition projects, even if its only a day or two away, please call my shop or shoot me an e-mail and we'll try to negotiate the salvage rights and recover what we can.  P.S. We have plenty of chalkboards in stock.  However, Saturday is the Heritage Days parade in TH, so traffic will be lame from 11 - 2 (unless you like parades).

Michelle

about 10 years ago

I think tearing down old buildings that are structurally sound should be banned.  It is such a waste of resources and the buildings that replace them are not built to the same standards and will not last as long.  It is shortsightedness and greed that created the RED PLAN and it is the school board and Keith Dixon that are primarily responsible for this mess.  But, even if the building HAD to go (which it didn't), it should have been responsibly de-constructed and as much of it salvaged as possible.  Obviously this was not done, or, not done well.  I drove past on the day they were tearing it down and noticed lots of people standing on the sidewalk watching - many kids were there too - the reality is that the dust from this building contains lead and asbestos and even though they were wetting it down with a hose, there is no way that they could contain all that dust.  I cannot believe that the neighborhood was not advised of the risk and that people were not kept at a safe distance.  There are other schools closing, it's not to late to try and make sure the same mistakes are not made with those buildings.

anna

about 10 years ago

Today I rode my bike to Lester. It was all torn down but I snuck in to get three bricks. One had my full initials on it. Isn't that just creepy?

Chase

about 10 years ago

I went to school here K-4th grade, and sometimes I still have the Lester Park Elementary "underwear dream." Sigh. It is depressing to hear that the lockers and other salvageable materials weren't extracted. Especially when vintage lockers sell for $75 to $200 in the open market, vintage doors make great bars, and vintage windows make such amazing room dividers. All in all, in just lockers alone, the school system could've at least held an auction to raise money for school supplies or something. What a waste.

Barb (Axelson)

about 10 years ago

Does anyone know if there was another LP School prior to the one that was just torn-down? I have a picture of it, but not sure if it could be posted in here. Me and all my brothers attended LP from Grade K till 6th grade. Have many pleasant memories.

Paul Lundgren

about 10 years ago

Barb, the old news articles above reference a Lester Park School that was built in the 1800s. If you have a photo, please share it.

wildgoose

about 10 years ago

Seconded Barb. I'll help you post it if you send it to me.  Sign up for email updates and I think you'll get my email address.  BTW, Tony D. is doing a book project that mentions this school, I'm not sure if he knows about that "other" Lester Park or not but I'm sure he'd love to see your photo.

doxielady

about 10 years ago

OK, I have registered now and just need approval that I am not a nutball. I have the two pics in my file. TY!

Mel

about 10 years ago

Wow! What a shocker!  I spent 7 beautiful childhood years at LP.  Some of the best memories of growing up were spent on that property.  I will forever remember the many days and evenings spent at the skating rink.  I read the comments before posting and agree with the person who commented about always wanting to go back through for a "walk through". Just thoughts now...Goodbye LP!

Steve Olson

about 5 years ago

Wow! How sad to think of all the wonderful memories. My four older siblings, myself and my younger brother all attended Lester Park. Mr. Lane was the principal when I started and Mr. Simmons was there when I left. I was at L.P. from 1962 to '68. Kennedy was assassinated when I was there, as well as Martin Luther King. 

I remember it was before they had Zerox copiers and everything was always in that blue-ish purple ink handwritten lithograph-type format. My teachers were K-6: Crawford, Olen, Oien, Wright (Gaunea sp?), McLair, Pavich, and Allen. All of them wonderful even if they were a little scary at times. 

I got my first stitches there on the hand railing in front of the school on the Oneida side. I was a police boy with Officer Kehoe as the liaison from the DPD. The Halloween carnival in the gym, cake walks. Sliding down that hill behind the swing set on my nylon jacket in wintertime. The horror stories of Mrs. Sjodine making you take off your pants and wrapping a sheet around yourself if you came in with your pants wet from the snow. Being dropped off at the skating rink on a Saturday morning and your folks coming by to get you for dinner, some 6 to 8 hours later. Running up to Stepan's store to get some candy before the bus left. It was always close!! Having pretend knife fights with the girls versus boys LOL! what were we thinking? Watching "Nanook of the North" in the auditorium and seeing my first naked Eskimo woman ... in fact that is the only naked Eskimo woman I have ever seen, ha! 

Then they turned the auditorium into a lunch room. Being sworn in as a Cub Scout in the same. My best friends Burt Schweiger, Jeff and Mike Jacques, Doug Mandy, Jim Whelan, Steve McCusker. We were the Shore Kids and were proud of it! 

What a wonderful childhood in a wonderful place to grow up. That old Lester Park School was a huge part of it. Can't forget the smelting down by the Lester River, swimming at Gundie's, and trading him found golf balls for a Nesbit orange soda and a burger. Playing hockey for the Lester Park Ponies/Peewee hockey teams.  I'm sure there were sad times but they seem to fade away and what is left are memories of an almost perfect childhood. Thank You so much for the memories LP Elementary. You were wonderful!

Steve Olson (Seattle, Wash.)

Jeanne Minor

about 11 months ago

My teachers were Muss Dahl, Mrs. Olen, Miss Shaleen, Miss Ryan, Miss Anglesburg, Mrsa. W. (5th grade).
I have classroom pictures 1960-1965.

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