In 1966, planning began on the new North High building. It was originally thought that the third building would have just been remodeled with a new wing added on. It was planned to cost $4 million, but ended up costing $9 million.
From the start, the community was involved in developing the new building. Students were encouraged to draw designs for the building. Accounts include drawings of castles, rooms made of pizza, and also serious designs of classrooms. They were invited to meet with the building's planner, John M. Taborn, and submit their own ideas for what they wanted in a school.
The Rockefeller Foundation gave a $100,000 grant to the school in 1968 to make North High a center for the community. This further progressed the construction of the new North High. It was intended that parts of the school would be available for non-students, such as a nursery for student mothers and luncheon and social activities for senior citizens. Part of this grant provided $10,000 for the continuance of programs with the Walker Art Center and the Guthrie Theater, which reflects the affiliation of North with the arts, particularly in its Arts and Media program today.
The school broke ground for the building on May 28, 1971. By this point, many students had begun to feel frustrated that a new school would never be built, as five years had passed since the first plans had started and when ground was broken. However, the ground-breaking ceremony gave hope to the community that gathered to watch the start of their new home of education.
The decision to move from one building to the current building is not a simple one. It is not only wrought with questions on architecture, but also with critiques on its success within the community. One City Council member stated that it needed to be burned down due to low levels of graduation rate. It has been described as a concrete bomb shelter and a prison, and there are differing opinions about the building itself. Some say that it has had a negative impact on the students' learning ability, and others have said that it was simply a learning space that seems open.
When the building first opened, part of the start of the school year involved students physically helping their teachers move from the old building to the new building. Students who felt dedicated to their teachers and new home wanted to participate in the movement to a brighter future.
The decision to move to a new location for the building was affected by outside forces. As George Roberts, a former teacher, relates, it was due in large part to a desire by a photo company to have a presence on Broadway, which was where the old football field used to be. A deal was worked out that involved North selling the land its football field was on and in exchange the photo company agreed to build a new football field where the third building was.
View the interview:
1500 James Ave. North Minneapolis, MN 55411
Telephone: 612.668.1700 | Fax: 612.668.1770