Relics photo essay: the languishing Pipestone central school

A parking lot alongside the old central school in Pipestone sits empty on June 18, 2013. The structure, which consumes 200,000 square feet, has been vacant for a decade. (Ann Arbor Miller for MPR)

A former school teacher living in Iowa bought the Pipestone school, along with one in neighboring Jasper, a decade ago, each for $1. The situation has been fraught with conflicts and delays ever since. The Pipestone school has been broken into repeatedly. Its roof is leaking. And it looks like Dick Haase, the developer, will let it go for back taxes.

How small communities around the state grapple with old, iconic buildings is the focus of our Ground Level project, Reviving Minnesota Relics.

Haase had a number of ideas for the enormous building over the years, including for senior housing. But because of various setbacks, the plans haven’t panned out. “I think the Pipestone school is a tremendous building that should be renovated for the people of Pipestone,” he said, adding, “I’m 79 years old. That’s getting up there. I don’t like climbing on roofs anymore.”

A last minute plan for the school could arise, but all indications are that it will eventually be torn down. “I don’t dislike the man,” said Pipestone County Board Chair Harold “Butch” Miller, of Haase. “But he was in way over his head.”

Location: 400 2


Ave. SW

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