Fire damages historic Catholic school building in Jordan

| November 14, 2017 | 0 Comments

A fire damaged a former Catholic school building in Jordan Nov. 14. It was reported at 5:24 a.m. in the building that housed St. John the Baptist Catholic School until 2004.

Jordan’s volunteer fire department responded to the fire and extinguished it.

A Nov. 14 fire caused damage to a building that housed St. John the Baptist Catholic School in Jordan from its 1908 construction until 2004. Courtesy Courtney Bierlein

The building was already in “rough shape” because it hasn’t been used for more than a decade, said Jordan Police Chief Brent Empey. The fire burnt a 5-foot-by-5-foot hole in the floor of a second-floor clock closet and caused smoke damage, he said. Two windows also burst out near the flame. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Built in 1908 in a neo-gothic style, the two-and-a-half-story red brick school sits on the corner of Second Avenue and Broadway, across the street from St. John the Baptist Catholic Church.

In 2007, the Minnesota Preservation Alliance included the historic school building on its annual Ten Most Endangered Historic Places list. According to the organization, the church and community were interested in seeing the building repurposed for offices or a library, but the Minnesota Preservation Alliance was concerned that it would be demolished to make way for a new development.

The old school was the third or fourth site of St. John the Baptist Catholic School, which was established in 1868. A former church building and then a smaller school building previously served students. The school moved into the parish’s newly constructed Education Center in 2004.

St. John the Baptist Principal Courtney Bierlein said that the school is grateful that the building was unoccupied and not greatly damaged, but that the fire still caused staff and students to reflect on their ties to the site.

“There’s a deep emotional connection to that building, because generations of our school families have gone to school in that building,” Bierlein said. “Even though it’s been out of use for over a decade, there’s still a deep bond that the community has to that site. Obviously, there was concern, but we were very grateful that the building was empty so no one was in harm’s way. We’re grateful to the Jordan fire department that quickly responded and contained the fire.”

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Category: Local News