Glencoe City Center

A Large Building Presents Multiple Options for Reuse

When the City of Glencoe took ownership of the old Henry Hill School from the Glencoe-Silver Lake School District in 2006, it was faced with what to do with such a large building. Although renovation costs would clearly exceed those of demolition, the city was determined to save the historic structure. A task force under the Glencoe Area Chamber of Commerce had discussed the need for an event center, and looked to the school building as an opportunity to both reuse a landmark structure and provide a needed facility. Starting in 2007, the City Council and the Chamber of

The gymnasium and auditorium have been renovated as an events center. Historic details, such as the wood seats and pendant light fixtures over the balcony, have been retained.

Commerce launched a joint effort to make the vision a reality. The Chamber secured a grant from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) and a total of $1 million in challenge gifts by local area banks. By 2009, the fundraising committee had another $1.5 million in pledges from private donors, and with city bonds covering the remaining costs, the project was completed in 2010.

Today, the building serves several vital civic functions. The old gymnasium/auditorium has been converted to a multi-purpose event center suitable for everything from wedding receptions to polka dances to city council meetings. A ground-floor suite of rooms is used as a senior center, and the administrative offices of the city government and Chamber of Commerce are centrally located.

Polished floor tiles and wood ceiling beams are original features, indicating the historic location and dimensions of the school library.

The public library occupies most of the second floor—over 14,000 square feet—including the area that was the library for the historic school.

Some spaces in the large building remain unfinished. According to city councilman Gary Ziemer, who served as co-chair of the fundraising committee, the building is still a work in progress. Future plans include a courtyard next to the gymnasium to serve as an outdoor gathering space for events, a room for children’s performances adjacent to the second-floor library, a possible teen rec center in the basement, and more. The robust private fundraising is evidence that, as Councilman Ziemer puts it, this was clearly “a project that people believed in.” The school building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in October 2012, securing the future of this landmark and its place in the community.

Project Architect: SEH

Project Costs: $5.3 million

Included asbestos abatement, window replacement, construction of grounds and parking infrastructure, new HVAC system, all interior and exterior rehabilitation

Funding Sources

Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) grant: $425,000

Security Bank matching challenge donation: $300,000

Family Foundation matching challenge donation: $700,000

City bonds: $1.9 million

Private donations: $1.5 million

For Further Information

Glencoe City Center

National Register of Historic Places nomination



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