Sunday, October 20, 2013

Old Church (?) or Schoolhouse (?) Scandia, MN

In mid-September this year we had intended to be staying in a cabin for the weekend at William O'Brien State Park along the St. Croix River. We'd made reservations about a month prior and so we packed up the car with everything but a tent. When we arrived we were told that we were in campsite #14 instead of a cabin! So our plans were completely thrown upside-down. So we decided to hike all day in the park and just head home at the end of the day. On the way back, I spotted a "native landscape" type of nursery that I wanted to visit and so we pulled off the road into the town of Scandia. I've driven past/through this town many times but had never stopped to see the original part of town. It was small as expected, with the essential small-town post office nestled between other business on the main street. But there was a building across from the post office that caught our attention immediately. A very large wooden building painted a drab green with rusty brown trim. At first glance, the structure looked like a pair of simple, one-and-a-half story houses from the turn of the century that had crashed into each other. But from the back half rose a square type of "bell-tower" structure at one end. This part was sided in wood like the rest and at the top supported a pedestal with more vertical bracing that looked like it could have held either a cross or maybe a bell. I instantly thought of the building as an old abandoned Church, but I couldn't rule out a schoolhouse either. If it had been either in a previous life, it appeared that the way the building faced –assuming the tower would be in front– was no longer in line with the rest of the town. With the tower portion being towards the back left it faced an adjacent house only 50 feet away. The other thing that made me feel this building had been re-purposed at least once was that it had two large garage doors nearest the main street. I couldn't tell for sure but I think they were the type that slid horizontally left and right along a rail. Above these two doors was a smaller "loft" door or window hinged with old metal brackets. But above that door were signs of an even older loft door much higher up near the peak of the roof that was sided over to match the rest of the building. Curiously there was a little hand-painted sign that read "Hilltop Water Co." hung smack dab between the two loft doors. Something I noticed later while viewing my photos was that to the right of the current loft door was a rectangular area where it was apparent that another sign may have hung for many years. That small area –less faded and chipped– hinted to the deeper green coloring the building may have appeared years ago. Due to fencing, I could really only walk around 2 sides of the building but it was in a beautiful state of disrepair, with siding and shingles literally falling off near the edges. It was raining at the time and I wondered how well the roof was still keeping out water. Admittedly, I don't do a lot of research on any of the buildings I post here on my blog and same goes for this one. I simply like how they look in their current form –with so much history peeling away in front of your very eyes. The mystery of that unknown history is part of the appeal for me and thus I don't necessarily go out of my way to track it down for myself. But if blog viewers care to comment and share what they know about the place, I certainly don't mind. In fact I enjoy that very much.