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Historic Preservation Month: Grand Forks Schools, Part 3


May is National Historic Preservation Month. Today, we have more about Grand Forks schools added to the National Register of Historic Places. 


The need for more schools came with population growth following World War II, so Grand Forks found it necessary to build a number of schools between 1949 and 1965 that are classic examples of the mid-century architectural style.


One of these schools was Valley Junior High School, which is now Valley Middle School. This school is located close to the University of North Dakota, and was the first junior high constructed on the north side of the city. While most of the other schools in this grouping of Mid-Century style were Elementary Schools and were designed by the architect firms of Wells and Denbrook, or DeRemer, Harrie, and Kennedy, Valley Middle School was designed by another local firm, Grosz and Anderson. Paul Grosz was born in Harvey in 1910. His partner, Algot Anderson, was born in Sweden, in 1911. 


President West of UND and the superintendent of Grand Forks schools had agreed that the land designated for the junior high could be temporarily used to house student veterans. President West then left in 1954, and the University was unprepared to relocate and remove the temporary housing on the undeveloped land. While this caused a delay, eventually it was worked out, and Valley Junior High School opened in 1955, catering to grades 7-9. As is typical of the mid-century style, the school had open greenspace, long bands of windows, and a flat roof. It was constructed in a light-colored brick. Early additions were built in 1957 and 1961 by the same architects. Then in the 1990s, Johnson and Laffen architects, now known as JLG, added to the building again, keeping to the original style. Also in the 1990s, 6th graders were brought to the school and 9th graders were sent to the high schools. Around that time, the name changed to Valley Middle School.


The sports facility is unique in this building; Valley Junior High School was the first school to have its own athletic fields and was the only school at the time to have a boys' locker room. Today, the locker room retains its original design.


More stories to come, as we continue to acknowledge May as National Historic Preservation Month.

Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker



West Elementary School National Register of Historic Places Registration Form

Valley Junior High School National Register of Historic Places Registration Form 

Wilder Elementary School National Register of Historic Places Registration Form

Ben Franklin Elementary School National Register of Historic Places Registration Form

Who’s Who for North Dakota 1955

Columbus Reporter, Thursday, November 22, 1956, p6


Sarah M. Walker, Head of Reference Services, North Dakota State Archives

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