Skip to content

St. Joseph’s Catholic School Demolition Interrupted By Fire

St. Joseph’s Catholic School Demolition Interrupted By Fire

By Echo Menges

According to The Edina Sentinel’s archives the St. Joseph’s
School, that is still somewhat standing today, was built as an addition to the
already standing St. Joseph’s College. The school hosted its first 211 pupils
in 1907 and after 89 years of Catholic education the school closed, due to low
enrollment, in 1996.

“A number of years ago the roof developed a number of leaks
and we didn’t have the money to fix it. After that the building started rapidly
deteriorating so the decision was made to tear the building down.” Said Project
Manager, and St. Joseph’s 1960 eighth grade graduate, Larry Clark. “It was cost
prohibitive to try and maintain the building any longer.”

Mullett Construction was contracted to tear down the
building and in January a crew began taking it down little by little.

“Everything of value in the building is being recycled,”
said Clark.

According to a representative of Mullett Construction about
75 percent of the wood, yellow pine flooring and floor joists, is salvageable
and is being recycled via a Quincy, Il resale company. The reusable lumber is
destined to be used for other projects.

“Wood from this building could end up all over the country,”
said the representative. “Quite a bit of it is still good wood.”

Also being recycled from the building are the white colored
bricks. As the crew dismantles the building they are cleaning and stacking the
reusable white bricks on pallets.

“The church is re-saling the (white) bricks. We’ve had
several local inquiries for some of them and a historical company has put in a
bid on all of the bricks. We’re also working on some other bidders at this
time.” Said Clark. “We’ll use a lot of the red bricks to fill in the basement.”

According to Knox County Historian, Brent Karhoff, the
school’s cornerstone came from the second Catholic Church built in Edina in
1858 to accommodate the growing Parish, a small stone building that preceded
the St. Joseph’s Catholic Church standing today.

“We went down and took a look and found a stone that doesn’t
really match the rest of the foundation stones. We think that’s it and we’ve
arranged to have it saved.” Said Karhoff.

“We hope to build a small monument as a tribute to the
school out of some of the bricks and we’ll also include the cornerstone in the
monument,” said Clark.

On Friday afternoon, March 23, 2012 members of the Edina
Fire Department were called to the school.
Several members of the community also showed up see what all the commotion
was about.

“It looks like they were burning stuff down there in the in
the northeast corner of the basement, went outside to eat and (the fire)
trailed up a wall, went across the floor joists and made it’s way around the
north half of the building.” Said Edina Assistant Fire Chief, Tom Morgret, “We
had nine firefighters who showed up and we used two of the big water pumpers
(trucks) and one small brush truck.”

The Edina Volunteer Fire Department was on scene in a matter
of minutes after the initial call came in to the Knox County Sheriff’s Office.

“The call went out at 1:28pm. We were in route at 1:30pm and
on scene at 1:32pm.” Said Assistant Chief Morgret. “Everything outside of what
they still had burning in the basement was out at 3:12pm. What was still
smoldering was surrounded by brick, rock and concrete and wasn’t a hazard to

No injuries were reported during the fire at St. Joseph’s
School on Friday.

“There was still some materials in the building, I
don’t think there was any damage to any of the salvageable materials.” Said
Clark. “We were hoping to have it completed and cleaned up by the first of
April, but I don’t think we’ll make that date now. We hope to wrap it up soon.”