Old-school Minnesota travel
2 mins read

Old-school Minnesota travel

As I travel through Minnesota, through towns large and small, it’s always worth stopping when a community—through determination or luck—manages to preserve an old schoolhouse.

These old schools may be boarded up or falling apart. They can be completely renovated and converted into apartments, houses or other uses. But regardless of their current condition, they have stories to tell.

Former school building with a dome

The former public school in Darfur, Minnesota, seen in June 2024. The building dates back to 1906.

Andrew Krueger | MPR Fact Sheet

In the inscriptions, the scale of the buildings, and the craftsmanship, you can see the pride this city took 75, 80, 100 or more years ago in providing the best education possible for its children and grandchildren.

An old school building with boarded up windows

The former public school in Lake Bronson, Minnesota, seen in August 2021. The last class graduated from Lake Bronson High School in 1968, before the district merged with Karlstad. It is now part of the Tri-County School District.

Andrew Krueger | MPR Fact Sheet

In towns that were once small and are now even smaller, old schools can be the last significant remnants of a once vibrant community.

And if you stop and listen carefully, you can hear the echoes of generations of students and teachers on the wind.

Abandoned school building with broken windows

The former public school in Freeborn, Minnesota, seen in November 2020.

Andrew Krueger | MPR Fact Sheet

This post features photos of five old school buildings from across Minnesota—from the communities of Avoca, Burtrum, Darfur, Freeborn, and Lake Bronson.

Did you or your relatives attend any of these schools? If so, do you have any stories, facts, or photos to share?

And there are many, many other old schools throughout the state. Is there another one, somewhere in Minnesota, that means a lot to you?

You can send your stories and suggestions to [email protected] and I may include them in a future post.

If you decide to explore on your own, keep in mind that most of these old schools are privately owned, so entering them can be dangerous.

An old brick school building with a cupola on top

The former Avoca Public School in southwestern Minnesota was built in 1894 and used for classes until 1970, when the school was consolidated with districts from larger nearby towns. Pictured in March 2021, the school is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Andrew Krueger | MPR Fact Sheet