National Register Nomination
Summary: On October 16, 2007, the Minnesota Historical Societies’ State Review Board for the National Register unanimously approved the 1918 School’s nomination to the national register. The nomination to the National Registry was written and submitted by Dan Hoisington of Hoisington Preservation Consultants, Roseville, MN. The nomination will now make its way through administrative channels at the state level before being submitted to the National Park Service in Washington D.C. The final review at the federal level will take approximately 2 to 3 months. The Kasson Alliance is working to find an economically viable reuse for the historic school so this important part of Kasson’s historic heritage can be preserved for future generations to use, admire and enjoy. An important step in that process is the placement of the school on the National Register which makes the redevelopment costs for the school eligible for federal tax credits, grants and other investment incentives. The nomination was submitted to the Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office in August 2007. The Minnesota State Review Board for the National Register met on Tuesday October 16, 2007. The board voted unanimously to forward the nomination to the National Park Service. The Park Service placed the school on the National Register on December 6, 2007.
Review Board Meeting: Over one dozen members of KARE and 5 representatives from the city of Kasson attended the review board meeting. The City of Kasson was represented by Mayor Tim Tjosaas, Administrator Randy Lenth, Planner Mike Martin, Library Board member Bonnie Adams and the cities’ attorney Shelley Ryan. Susan Roth, State National Register Officer, opened the discussion with a slide show presentation of the school’s architecture and structural integrity along with a discussion of the school’s unique history. Two objection letters and a resolution from the city (see the link on this webpage), which were written by Mr. Lenth and the cities preservation consultant Robert Vogel, were then read into the public record along with a letter of support from a Kasson citizen. Mr. Hoisington and Bonnie McDonald of the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota then gave brief talks on why the school should qualify to meet the National Register criteria. Kenton Spading, KARE Director, spoke to the board in regards to the large base of citizen and business support for the nomination. Mayor Tjosaas then addressed the board with a review of the cities’ stance outlined in the attached letters and resolution. He stated “demolishing the School is in the public’s best interest”. Ms. Ryan urged the board to delay their decision due to the fact that it could affect the February 2008 court case during which a judge will hear testimony on whether or not the school is an historic resource. It was implied that the National Register approval would clearly determine that issue.
Numerous review board members then commented on the nomination while making it clear that their decision is based solely on whether or not the school qualifies for the National Register based the criteria spelled out in federal guidelines. They carefully pointed out that the cities’ desire to demolish the building, and/or the pending litigation, are not factors in their decision. The board members went on to comment that some of Mr. Vogel’s register eligibility comments did not align well with National Register guidelines and that the building and the nomination were among the finest they have seen for a school. Board member and historian Dave Ebnet commented: “local history is as important as national history due to the fact that it occurs where people are living and spending their day-to-day lives so it is very important to recognize it.” The board then voted to unanimously approve forwarding the nomination up the chain for a final review.
In early 2007, KARE requested that the City of Kasson partner with them to further investigate reuse options for the school. When the city decided to open demolition bids on May 23, KARE filed a legal action the same day to prevent the City from demolishing the 1918-era school. A court hearing was held on June 5th and the Honorable Judge Casey J. Christian of Owatonna signed a court order on June 7th granting KARE a temporary injunction to stop the demolition provided KARE could post a $50,000 bond by June 19th. KARE posted the bond on June 18th. As a result, the injunction will remain in place until a February 11, 2008 court trial during which the court will hear evidence as to whether the school qualifies for protection under the state’s historic resource law, and whether it should issue a permanent injunction preventing the demolition.
The February trial was postponed by mutual agreement and rescheduled for Monday August 18, 2008. On Wednesday August 13, 2008 the City of Kasson and the Kasson Alliance for Restoration signed a settlement agreement which negated the need for a trial.
Nomination Excerpts: Some interesting school history was uncovered during the nomination research process. The following is from Section 8 of the nomination form (see the link on this webpage):
[After it was completed] The [Kasson School] building quickly won plaudits. In early January 1919, R. B. McLean, a state school inspector, and B. M. Gile, a supervisor for the federally-funded Smith-Hughes agricultural school programs, visited and filed a positive report. Later, H. H. Flynn, a state high school inspector, also looked over the new building. The local newspaper reported, these men all expressed their admiration for the beauty and conveniences of the new building and all thought that Kasson has every reason to be proud of their fine edifice.
No report was more enthusiastic than that of Samuel Challman, the first state inspector of school buildings and probably the man most knowledgeable about new school buildings in Minnesota. Typically a tough-minded advocate of strict construction standards, Challman was effusive in his praise of the new school. The Republican carried news of his visit to Kasson in May 1919, noting:
Mr. S. A. Challman, state inspector of school buildings, made the Kasson School a visit on Wednesday last and went into ecstasies over the structure erected here the past year. He says there is nothing equal to it in the state in the way of completeness and architectural design. He wanted a photo of it so that he could use it upon his letterheads. He stated that it was the first of its type ― three separate units, connected with a corridor, to be built in the state, but said it would an ideal pattern for others who could not resist the temptation when once they saw this model structure.
An editorial writer for the Rochester Post and Record also pointed to the school as an example of the future of education in small-town Minnesota: The era of the little red school house is rapidly passing. We are now coming to the popularity of the consolidated school, with its facilities for educational training. . For architectural beauty and ornate simplicity the triple school buildings of Kasson, with their artistic brick bond, their well-balanced symmetry, and their spacious grounds will command the admiration of everyone.
National Register Listing Approved
December 17, 2007 Press Release – School Named to the National Registry
National Register Nomination
Kasson School Nomination Form
City Objection Documents
S Ryan’s Nat Reg Objection Ltr to NPS – 22 Oct 2007
S Ryan’s Nat Reg Objection Ltr to SHPO – 15 Oct 2007
R Lenth’s Nat Reg Objection Ltr to SHPO – 10 Oct 2007
Cities’ Nat Reg Resolution – 10 Oct 2007
R Vogel’s Nat Reg Objection Ltr to SHPO – 08 Oct 2007