MILFORD TOWNSHIP - A number of Milford Township supervisors and residents attended a Minnesota Senate Committee meeting March 18 regarding the Milford Town Hall Preservation Project.
Milford Township Supervisor Fred Juni and Milford resident Deborah Dove spoke in favor of Senate File 2664, authored by Sen. Gary Dahms, R-Redwood Falls with a companion House bill sponsored by Rep. Paul Torkelson, R-Hanska.
The bill would appropriate $100,000 from the bond proceeds fund to the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS) for a grant to relocate and renovate the Milford Town Hall. The Senate bill was laid over for possible inclusion in the omnibus bill.
Staff photo by Fritz Busch
Milford Township Supervisor Fred Juni stands in the Milford Town Hall (former District 50 School) that may be moved to a township-owned lot just west of the Essig Ball Park if enough money is raised to fund the project. The building is now located just south of Highway 14, a mile east of Essig.
Staff photo by Fritz Busch
The Milford Town Hall is located 1 mile east of Essig near a curve on Highway 14.
The building, which was home to District 50 school from 1912?to 1971, would be moved to Essig on a plot owned by the township.
The Milford Township Board is considering options for its town hall building, which is not handicap-accessible and does not have water, a septic system or functioning restroom facilities. Ideally, the former schoolhouse would be preserved, renovated and utilized as a multi-use community center," Dove said.
In 2012, township residents voted to move the building to Essig. The township owns an empty lot just west of the ballpark that has been flagged and staked.
Project proponents said the move would be beneficial because it would have ready access to the Essig water and sewer system, is close to baseball and softball fields and could be used as an emergency shelter for players and fans if a basement is built and would be moved away from a highway curve.
The township has a small capital reserve account and received grant and fund-raising money, but more is needed to complete the project.
On Thursday, Juni opened the town hall and talked about the building.
"What we have here is a diamond in the rough. There aren't many buildings like this left in the state," Juni said. "We've had many discussions about it. The cost of the project is a divisive issue to some people, but we've got a good share of support in Milford and Sigel townships. We're looking every place we can to find funding to help retain the historical charm and character of the building that served as a school house from 1912 until 1971 when remaining one-room schoolhouses were closed in Minnesota. We feel the project is a little too big to be funded by a local (tax) levy," Juni said.
The building is much the same as it was when it was used as a school. Features include a brick and cement porch outside the front door and embossed metal interior ceiling and interior walls. The building has been used in recent years for 4-H meetings, and it has been included in area historical tours.
Juni, who has been a township supervisor since 1978, didn't attend school in the Milford Town Hall, but he went to a school several miles north of it along County Road 29.
"We've still got some original school desks and a documented school bell that was earlier sold, before I found the man that bought it and bought it from him," Juni said.
"Moving the building to Essig would make it safer, more user-friendly, allow us to hook up to sewer and water and add a kitchenette. We feel the nearby highway and possible future highway improvements put the building location in jeopardy. We don't want to lose the building. There are very few like it left. We hired an historical expert to apply for placing the building on the National Register of Historic Places. We've got township legal records dating as far back as 1858."
(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org).