Century old seed house set for sale
The old brick building along Highway 34, which was once a schoolhouse, has been standing for over 100 years and soon will be sold.
According to Leo Hensel, owner of Park Rapids Seed House, an agreement is in place to sell the building and the property to an undisclosed buyer.
Hensel, who bought the business in August 2001 with his business partner Kathie Borg, said a purchase agreement was signed in November after he placed a "For Sale" sign in his window in August 2016, 15 years after he purchased it.
"I knew the property would sell because of the location," Hensel said. "It's one of the main reasons I bought it, because I knew it would re-sell."
Hensel said the closing date for the sale is scheduled for May and explained it is his understanding there are plans to demolish the building which was originally constructed in 1910.
When it was first built, it was an active schoolhouse which was then called the East Side School House.
It remained a school until the late 1930s. When the school closed, the pupils were relocated to the school located at U.S. Highway 71 and Third Street, which is now referred to as the middle school apartments.
Several longtime residents and members of the Hubbard County Historical Society can recall having family members who attended the school when it was still in operation.
According to one such resident, David Konshok, Sr., many schools were closing at that time. Although he could not recall for sure why, he ventured to guess that it had something to do with World War II, which began in 1939.
Rod Nordberg, a member of the Hubbard County Historical Society, said that in 1939, after the Eastside School House closed, there was a fire at the old high school. The building suffered significant damage and needed to be reconstructed. The building now sits facing Third Street.
"I was in sixth grade when the old high school burned down," Konshok recalled. "While the new one was being built we were all over the place; churches, the fire hall (which is now the Senior Center) and the Armory was heavily used."
The East Side School House was converted to a seed house in the 1940s and at that time was owned and operated by Carl Ennblade.
There were additions to the building over the years and it changed ownership several times but it was never operated as anything other than an agriculture building after the school closed.
"There just isn't any business anymore," Hensel said he chose to sell the building because the sale of feed and seed has declined over the years. "When you get one customer a day, if that, you can't run a business."
Hensel explained that there are several entities who now see the building as an eyesore. He also said that it would be more economical to demolish the building and construct something new as opposed to restoring the existing structure.
"I'll be happy to get out of here; now I won't have to come to town six days a week," Hensel joked. "I'll miss the people though."
Hensel, who turned 65 in December, owns a farm on the north end of Island Lake that he was raised on and took over from his parents, and now where he'll be devoting his time.