Historic Structures

Frederika Bremer Intermediate School, Minneapolis Minnesota

Date added: June 25, 2010 Categories: Minnesota School Romanesque Revival

During the 1880s, Minneapolis emerged as a major manufacturing, warehousing, and transportation center. Its economic growth was mirrored by an unprecedented expansion in population. Between 1880 and 1885, the city's inhabitants nearly tripled, increasing from 47,000 to 129,000. Such rapid growth placed a severe strain on municipal facilities, and this was especially true for the public school system. During the 1880s, the Minneapolis Board of Education constructed 28 new schoolhouses, including Bremer School.

The Minneapolis Board of Education purchased the land for Bremer School in June 1885. Comprising approximately three-quarters of an acre, the parcel fronted Lowry Avenue between Fremont Avenue North and Emerson Avenue North in an residential district about two miles north of downtown Minneapolis. In honor of the city's Scandinavian population, the board named the new school after the Swedish novelist Frederika Bremer, who had visited and written about Minnesota in the early 1850s. Construction of the building was delayed by a dispute over the ownership of the land, which was not resolved until May 1887. In the interim, the board held classes in a rented building on the site.

Initially, the board intended Bremer School to be a relatively inexpensive, four-room building. To quiet title to the site, however, it was necessary for the board to pledge an expenditure of at least $10,000 in constructing the new school. This apparently prompted the board to expand the school into an eight-room structure. The building was designed according to a plan prepared by the Minneapolis architectural firm of Long and Kees. This plan was also adopted for Calhoun School and Peabody School, both completed in 1887. In its Romanesque Revival detailing, the Long and Kees design marked a departure from the Gothic and Italianate styles of earlier Minneapolis schoolhouses. Excavation for Bremer School commenced in June 1887, and construction was completed before the end of the year.

Bremer School opened in the fall of 1887 with approximately 70 students enrolled in grades 1-3, During almost a century of ensuing service, the building alternately functioned as an elementary and intermediate school. To keep pace with expanding enrollment, it was enlarged with eight classrooms in 1897, and again in 1910; an "industrial arts" addition was constructed in 1916. The school was finally closed in June 1979, as a consequence of a city-wide decline in school-age population. At the time of its closing, Bremer was the city's third oldest schoolhouse. In 1978, The building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places as "the oldest architecturally important school building standing in Minneapolis [and as] an excellent representative of the educational edifice as it existed in the late nineteenth century". It has remained vacant to the present time.