A blighted and dilapidated former school building in Duluth Township has stood empty for most of the last 40 years, attracting vandalism and other criminal activity, will stand for its last year, following a unanimous vote by St. Louis County Board.
The old Clover Valley School stands on 25-acres was tax forfeited in 2015. The building now stands scarred as a result of years of vandalism, weather damage, and neglect. Windows are smashed and broken, debris littering the floors, and graffiti lining the walls.
The building hasn't been used as a school since 1974, when a consolidation plan moved students into the neighboring Two Harbors School District.
Attempts to reuse the building were unsuccessful, and ownership changed several times. It was briefly used in the late '70s as a processing site for Lake Superior Herring, and as a production area for a company that developed vinyl film laminate.
Two fires in the early 90s resulted in the collapse of walls.
In 2002, sale documents noted that the building contained hazardous materials; had no electricity; the roof, windows, and mechanical system needed repair; and the septic system needed to be replaced.
The Duluth Township Board in July passed a resolution in support of the building's demolition. The County is currently working with the Township to consider development options on the site once demolition is complete.
State statute gives the County authority to demolish buildings on tax forfeited property if they pose a danger due to dilapidated condition, or if demolition would make it easier to sell the property.
The County Board has made it a priority in recent years to clean up blighted, tax forfeited properties as a way to improve neighborhoods and encourage economic development.
The Board approved spending spending more than $800,000 to review, remove, and rehabilitate tax forfeited properties county wide this year.