Historic town hall for sale

YELLOW MEDICINE COUNTY – First, there was the unincorporated town of Lorne, with grain elevators, a lumber yard, stock yard and a school that became the meeting hall for Minnesota Falls Township. Now, only the school building remains just off Minnesota Highway 23, a few miles outside of Granite Falls, and it’s for sale.

“The current town hall was built as a school back in 1911 to replace the one that was hit by lightning and burned down,” said Gary Velde, who recently retired as town clerk. “The school operated until 1938, then the students went to the Granite Falls or Hanley Falls public schools.”

Since then, the building has been used for monthly township meetings, 4-H events and as a voting place until electronic voting made it necessary to move the polling place to the Granite Falls Community Center.

Recently, the township board decided to offer the building for sale, on condition the buyer move the building.

“We’ve had a few lookers but no bids so far,” said Ryan Fromm, current township clerk. “We’d like to see it kept up. It is a historic landmark.”

According to Velde, the building still has the original hardwood floors and original oak baseboards and window trim. The original school blackboards still hang on the walls.

“The building is sound,” Velde said. “It’s got vinyl siding on the exterior and a good roof.”

On the other hand, though it has electricity, it has no water and sewer hookup, air conditioning or heat. When the weather is bad, the township meetings are held in board members’ homes and the annual meeting at the Granite Falls airport building.

Any interested party has until Aug. 1 to submit a bid. If there are no bids by then, the township may consider selling the building and the lot as-is.

“We went to the county and found the land was purchased by the school district for 15 dollars sometime in the 1940s,” Fromm said. “If it was a deed, we’d have to look further into it to see if we had the right to sell it.”