To Keep the Fergus Falls State Hospital Complex or Demolish It?

To a hospital, going back 100 years, that was the main source of employment in Fergus Falls, with over 3,000 residents

FERGUS FALLS, Minn. — It’s a conversation Minnesota communities have been having for over a decade…will the Fergus Falls State Hospital Complex be preserved or demolished?

The city of Fergus Falls is trying to implement a phased plan to come up with a compromise.

“I don’t think there’s many people in the community that don’t have a connection of some sort,” said Mayor Ben Schierer of Fergus Falls.

To a hospital, going back 100 years, that was the main source of employment in Fergus Falls, with over 3,000 residents.

“Tearing down this building would be a tremendous loss, not only to the historical fabric of the community, but a tremendous loss as an economic asset for Fergus Falls,” said Chris Schuelke, the Executive Director of the Otter Tail County Historical Society.

But people in the community stand on different sides of the issue.

“The main thing that the city realizes is that we cannot allow this facility, which was a state sized facility to a national problem, impact the local tax base,” said Schierer.

City Hall members have come up with a phased plan that would only preserve parts of the campus…

“East and west detached and the tower, those are the three buildings that I would love to see saved.” said Schierer.

But preservationists say it is crucial to keep the original linear design in order to preserve history.

“This building was built to stand the test of time,” said Schuelke.

The heat was turned off in 2009 leaving the building in great shape but preservationists say the longer the building isn’t touched the longer it’s going to take to preserve it.

Over the last decade, the city has entertained more than 17 developers.

“The size of it is just not conducive to a development in a town of 13,000 people,” said Schierer.

But those who want to preserve the entire campus say it can be developed piece by piece.

“Any activity will then attract more activity,” said Schuelke.

This campus is more than just a hospital.

“That’s only part of the story,” said Schuelke.

It’s a historical landmark that people say is filled with haunted legends and family miracles.

“In our interaction with people, they have such an emotional connection to that facility,” said Schuelke.

It’s an institution that’s helped thousands over the years.

The city of Fergus Falls held a commission meeting Monday night to go over the phases and discuss their next steps of possible demolition.

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