Category Archives: Historic Middle School

Welcome the Weitz to Downtown Northfield

The NDDC welcomes the Weitz Center for Creativity to Downtown Northfield.

Technically only a half block away from the C-1 Zone (part of the definition of the downtown as per the City Zoning Code), what was once “the old middle school” is only a block away from the Carnegie Library and only two blocks away from the “heart” of Northfield…Bridge Square.  The NDDC is going to reach out across that short distance and say “Welcome, we’re glad you’re here.”.

The NDDC believes that the Weitz will be a great addition to Downtown Northfield.   In fact, the NDDC is so excited about the opening, we thought somebody should throw a party.  Fortunately, somebody is…

Carleton College cordially invites everyone to a special community open house celebrating the completion of the new Weitz Center for Creativity on Saturday, September 17, from 3 to 6 p.m. The celebration will feature tours of the building and its many unique spaces, as well as light refreshments and musical entertainment. Continue reading Welcome the Weitz to Downtown Northfield

Making Northfield an Art Town


Four or five years ago, a group of people gathered together in pursuit of a shared goal: to make Northfield into an Art Town. Some months later, they realized that at least two other organizations, the Northfield Arts Guild (NAG) and the NDDC, shared some of the same goals. The groups got together and have been meeting monthly for three years as the Arts, Recreation and Culture (ARC) Committee.

Three or four years ago, the Historic Middle School complex emerged as a possible site for a Community Arts Center. The vision included classrooms for young artists, live-work spaces for emerging artists, and studios for mid-career artists. For those working to have Northfield recognized as an Art Town, it was a project with great potential. For a variety of reasons, that vision wasn’t realized. (See previous blog posts on Historic Middle School.)

The ARC Committee determined to continue working towards the Art Town goal along alternate routes. They decided to refocus on programming. The group met and discussed existing activities, events and festivals as well as possible additions to the community’s portfolio of programming.

Recently some people have suggested that we should direct a substantial portion of the resources available to the arts community and use them for a marketing campaign that promotes Northfield as an Art Town. I think that if we’re going to spend money on a sales pitch, we should direct it at John Villani and invite him to be our guest in Northfield.
Continue reading Making Northfield an Art Town

School District to Consider Reuse Proposal for Historic Middle School

On Thursday, May 19th, the Northfield School District is holding an Open House for the public to view and provide feedback on Carleton College’s proposal for reuse of the Historic Middle School and site.

The Open House will be held at the New Middle School Media Center, 2200 Division Street South, from 5 pm to 7 pm.

The School Board expects to make a decision on June 13 about how to reuse the facility and wants to receive public input.
Continue reading School District to Consider Reuse Proposal for Historic Middle School

Artspace and the Mystery of the Million Dollars

Sunday’s Star Tribune has a front page business section story about Artspace Projects, the Minneapolis-based developer that recently withdrew its proposal for the Historic Middle School complex in Northfield. People have started asking me, “if Artspace can do it on both coasts and many points in between, why couldn’t they do it in Northfield?”

The article in the Strib features a number of photographs of Artspace’s Washington Studios project in Duluth. I was the project manager at Artspace for that development and I thought that I might compare the financing for that project with the potential structuring for the Historic Middle School in Northfield as a basis for examining the feasibility of the potential project.
Continue reading Artspace and the Mystery of the Million Dollars

College Builds Community Arts Center

For better or worse, I’m not a Carl or an Ole. I got my undergraduate degree (in Government, with a comparative politics focus) from Wesleyan in Middletown, Connecticut. An article in the 2005 Issue 1 of the Wesleyan magazine was of particular interest to me: SCHOOL OF DREAMS: The newly opened Green Street Arts Center brings hope to a troubled neighborhood in the North End of Middletown.


Wesleyan built a community arts center for Middletown called the Green Street Arts Center. Working with the local non-profit NEAT (the North End Action Team), Wesleyan’s Center for the Arts determined that the best way to achieve outreach to the community was to build the community an arts center.

The leadership on this initiative came from Wesleyan’s Vice President, Peter Patton. According to the article, Vice President Patton understood that “NEAT wanted a community center: a gathering place, a source of pride, and a central hub”.

Wesleyan determined that “the center had to be built with the same eye to quality and pride that Wesleyan would lavish on a central-campus building. A little storefront wouldn’t be a beacon for the commmunity”.

The college and community team found a perfect location for the project: “a hulking old brick building” that had once been the parochial school for St. Sebastian’s church. “With its generous rooms and tall windows, it was easy to imagine sunlight streaming in on classrooms filled once again with laughing children”.

“With much hard work, the funding began to fall into place through city, state and federal money, as well as a $500,000 gift from an anonymous alumnus” who directed the gift to the project at the urging of Wesleyan President Douglas Bennet.

Now that the building is open, Wesleyan continues its support of the Green Street Arts Center through programming.

The Kamau Jazz Trio performs at the Grand Opening of the Green Street Arts Center.