Jackson Preservation Alliance, Jackson

The building that led to the creation of the Jackson Preservation Alliance

In the southern Minnesota community of Jackson, the historic Jackson County Resource Center held an important place in many of the citizens’ hearts.  Since 1938, the Work Projects Administration (WPA) built Center had served the community as its high school, middle school, and finally, as Jackson County’s social services center.  When the County announced plans in 2009 to demolish the structure for a new building, there were mixed reactions in the community.

A group of citizens formed the Jackson Preservation Alliance (JPA) to advocate for the Center’s preservation and to develop an adaptive reuse proposal.  Led by a nine-member board, the group worked tirelessly to educate fellow citizens about the options available and the economic advantages of saving the building.  Nonetheless, the County Commission moved forward with a bonding proposal to demolish the structure. Despite the bond’s failure, a petition to rehabilitate the Center, which was signed by more than 500 citizens, and the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota’s listing of the Jackson County Resource Center as a 10 Most Endangered in 2010, the County Commission continued to move forward with its plans for demolition.

The JPA saw no other choice than to file a lawsuit based on the State’s cultural resource protection legislation to prevent the demolition.  JPA raised more than $25,000 to secure the necessary performance bond; however, the court ruled in favor of the County Commission, and in January of 2011, the Jackson County Resource Center was demolished.

Despite the regrettable ending to their advocacy efforts, the JPA has used the experience to galvanize support in the community for other preservation efforts like saving Jackson’s historic movie theater.  We commend the members of the JPA for demonstrating courage and resolve in the face of adversity to save a significant local landmark.  We believe they are a statewide model for citizen action.

An architectural detail from the exterior of the Jackson County Resource Center

 

Jackson Preservation Alliance Board Members: Cathy Strube-Buxengard; Cheryl Brooks; Jane Morris; Jeri Sirovy; Mary Allen; Dorothy Benson; Kyle Fricke; Laura Tusa; Gordon Willett