Lauderdale buys a piece of its past


Courtesy of City of Lauderdale • The fifth- and sixth-grade class at Lauderdale School as seen in December 1953. Lauderdale recently bought the former school site located at 1795 Eustis St., and prior to its redevelopment, is offering tours of the building on May 19.

Mike Munzenrider photos • A large rectangular photo in the Lauderdale City Council chambers, which was bought at a State Fair flea market a couple years ago and given to the city, shows the Lauderdale School as it was in March 1921.

Mike Munzenrider photos • Formerly home to the Twin City Chinese Christian Church, which moved to Roseville last year, the Lauderdale School site was bought by the City of Lauderdale for $1.1 million.

Mike Munzenrider photos • A large rectangular photo in the Lauderdale City Council chambers, which was bought at a State Fair flea market a couple years ago and given to the city, shows the Lauderdale School as it was in March 1921.

courtesy of City of Lauderdale • An undated photo of the Lauderdale School shows it prior to its mid-1930s renovation, after which it was rebuilt into its current form.

Redevelopment planned for Lauderdale School site, but first, tours

 

Lauderdale City Administrator Heather Butkowski signaled relief as she answered the phone to chat about the city’s recent purchase of a 100-year-old former school property.

There was so much interest in planned city-led tours through the one-time Lauderdale School, that she’d spent much of a recent Tuesday morning sifting through tour reservations and needed a break.

“I think I knew when we bought it there was a strong interest in the community to see the building again,” Butkowski said of the property located at 1795 Eustis St.

For the past four decades until January 2017, the building housed the Twin City Chinese Christian Church. Prior to that, it was the Lauderdale School. 

A stone marker off the Eustis Street entrance to the building is inscribed with 1937, but the original school dates to well before the inter-war period.

“We don’t even know the exact date the school was built,” Butkowski said. “I’m sure someone does.”

A consultant’s report commissioned by the city turned up historical records that indicate the property was first developed in the 1910s, becoming the Lauderdale School.

A photo of the first iteration of the school hangs in the Lauderdale City Council chambers at City Hall — Butkowski said someone bought the panoramic-style photo at a State Fair flea market a couple years ago and donated it to the city — it’s dated 1921.

Whenever the school was first built, the city became the official owner of the 24,000-square-foot building and the 1.69 acres it sits on May 4.

Butkowski said the city paid $1.1 million for the property, and issued bonds to do so. 

The purchase is significant for Lauderdale, which is fully developed — such redevelopment opportunities don’t come up often for the barely half-a-square mile city.

 

Back to school

The draft of Lauderdale’s 2040 Comprehensive plan, which guides future development and will be formalized later, has the site down as high-density housing.

“High density for Lauderdale means anywhere between 17 and 51 units,” Butkowski said. “So it’s not super dense.”

“The council’s emphasis has been on something [for the site] that is senior-friendly so people can age in place here, which hasn’t always been easy with our current housing stock,” Butkowski said, noting that nothing is yet set in stone when it comes to what will happen at the property.

What is certain, is that the city will have a very healthy turnout for its day of tours of the building on Saturday, May 19.

Butkowski said on that recent Tuesday that she already had well over 100 people who’d contacted her about taking a tour and that the inquiries were coming in 10-a-day.

“The youngest people who went to school there are 50 years old,” she said, noting that a lot of the folks interested in the tour are people who plan on bringing along their children, and sometimes, grandchildren, too.

Tour-goers will fill out a waiver, Butkowski said, and she’s already expanded the tour hours in order to accommodate the amount of interest, which is coming from all over the metro area.

Former Lauderdale School teachers are lined up to be there and answer questions, and the day should include memorabilia tables and more programming, depending on who volunteers to help out, she said.

Though Butkowski anticipated community interest in getting to see the building, she said she did not expect it to come with such enthusiasm.

“I think what’s been surprising is how excited people are when they call to sign up,” she said.

To sign up for a tour of the Lauderdale School building, contact Butkowski at 651-792-7650 or at heather.butkowski@lauderdalemn.org. She notes the building is not handicap accessible.

 

– Mike Munzenrider can be reached at mmunzenrider@lillienews.com or 651-748-7813

Rate this article: 
No votes yet
Comment Here