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Century old school to be sold in St. Johns

Posted at 8:14 PM, May 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-11 20:14:30-04

ST. JOHNS, Mich. — he nearly 100-year-old Wilson Center is up for sale.

The school has been around since 1925 and was named after Rodney B. Wilson, a 17-year-old student who died from the Spanish flu.

His family donated a portion of the property.

Currently, the building has a lot of upkeep and maintenance needs. It costs around $100,000 to maintain the property.

The school district only uses a portion of the school for child care and alternative education.

St. Johns' Superintendent Mark Palmer said, "It's just a big building that has a lot of upkeep to it and a lot of expense to keep it going and it's a building we just don't need for the district right now to operate."

Right now the district has three potential buyers: Clinton County, Dymaxion Development, a housing developer, and Ken and Chris Harris, another developer.

Developers Ken and Chris Harris placed a bid of $25,129 for the school.

The superintendent said they would turn the school into community housing.

Similar to the Harris', Dymaxion Development would also turn the school into housing.

Dymaxion Development offered $50,000

Clinton County offered $500,000 but the county wants the school district to pay for the demolition, which would cost the school district more money than what it would make from the sale.

According to Palmer and county estimates, it would cost the school district $1.8 million to pay for the demolition.

The St. Johns' Board of Education will be voting Monday night to decide what bid they will accept.

The building holds a lot of memories for St. Johns residents.

Dennis Blatkmer went to school at the Wilson Center.

He said there were a lot of memories in the building for him and passing it almost everyday reminds him of his time there. He said he would be fine with a buyer turning the school into housing, but wants the exterior of the building to remain the same.

"We got a lot of buildings in town here. They took apart, put new facing on. There are no memories," Blatkmer said.

Another resident mentioned tearing down an old building is like tearing down art.

Dana Thomson, St. Johns resident said, "It's really sad to me when things like this happen because it's a dying art. These buildings are apart of our history and they really need to stay that way.

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