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    History of Old Central School

    In the heart of downtown Grand Rapids is Old Central School. The school which was once filled with elementary school kids and is now home to a few businesses and is filled with art and history.

    History of The Old Central School

    The school was built in 1895 in the Richardsonian Romanesque style of architecture. From 1895- 1972 the school was used as an elementary School. The school was then listed as a National Register of Historic Places in 1977. It was not until 1984 that the school was restored and turned into a location for commerce, culture and used for community events.

    One day, a visitor stopped into the Visit Grand Rapids office to share their experience of going to school at Old Central School. They shared that on the 1st level, they attended 1st grade there and recalled a play about a hen. It is stories like this that are the true history of the impact this beautiful building holds. If you or someone you know when to Old Central School and want to share a story with us, email us at info@visitgrandrapids.com

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    What It Is Like Today

    As you walk in you can tell how well preserved the old central school is to its original design. All original wooden floors, chalk boards and in some of the rooms you can see where school kids used to hang their backpacks up on hooks. It is a picture this moment of what it was like to go to school in the last 1800 and in the 1900’s.

    The school is also filled with art. In the center there are photos hanging that show what the greater grand rapids area is like. In the staircase, there are four paintings that depicting the history of what Grand Rapids was built from. One painting is of the early voyagers that came to Minnesota in the 1600’s. The second painting is of a riverboat on the Mississippi. The third one is of a wannigan on the river that shows the beginning of the lumber industry in our area. The last painting is of a pioneer that shows the growth of operations in lumber and mining in Itasca.

    Although, it is no longer used as a school, there is still so much to see. Currently, Visit Grand Rapids, Janna Salmela Photography, True North Salon and Spa and a combination boutique of true north salon and spa and wildland fabrics all open. On the top floor is Artist in the attic. Lastly, we have a few pop-up shops. Currently, the clothing bar is here every few weekends a month. If you are interested in renting a space contact Rob Mattei, Director of Community Development, at: 218-326-7601.

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