By Starrla Cray
MONTROSE, MN For many people driving through the City of Montrose, the huge historic schoolhouse on Highway 12 is hard to miss.
“It’s the most beautiful building in town,” owner Bob Chantland said. “It has a façade like an old mansion.”
The building was constructed in 1905, after the first school in Montrose was destroyed in a fire in 1904.
Thirteen-foot ceilings, hardwood floors, and striking exterior architecture attest to the splendor of the structure.
However, when Chantland purchased the building in 1989, it was in tough shape. “It looked like Berlin in 1945,” he said.
The building was used as a schoolhouse until the mid-1970s, Chantland said, but after that, it was neglected.
“If it wasn’t for dedicated people, historic buildings in small towns would be torn down,” Chantland said.
For the past 20 years, he has spent “hundreds of thousands of dollars,” and countless hours restoring the building.
“About 300 window panes were broken when I bought it,” he said. “Rainwater came in, and the beautiful maple floors were all buckled.”
Now, Chantland uses the building to store vintage motorcycles. The inside is gutted, except for a small room where Chantland resides. Someday, he hopes to renovate more of the interior.
“It would make a beautiful restaurant,” he said.