For 42 years the iconic brick and limestone ‘Charles M. Loring’ sign was a familiar backdrop in many back-to-school pictures. The sign was constructed in 1977 using engraved limestone pieces that were part of the school’s 1928 façade and located over the original entrance to the school.
In 2019 Loring Community School, at 2600 44th Avenue North, underwent renovation and expansion, and realigned a crosswalk to make it safer for students. The realignment included adding sidewalk space and therefore removal of the sign. Another factor in removal was a plan for a new electronic monument sign. According to city regulations, schools are allowed to have one building sign and one monument sign.
In the early phases of the project it became clear there were no plans to reuse the historic pieces of the sign. Community advocates became involved in its preservation and a compromise was reached. The new monument sign was completed in September and includes the date plaque from the construction of the school in 1928.
The original ‘Charles M. Loring’ segment is now a garden element in the schoolyard gardens. Volunteers from the Victory Neighborhood Environmental Committee prepared a spot for the sign by the Victory Flagpole patio that faces 44th Avenue North. Minneapolis Public School (MPS) contractors used a skid loader and straps to place the three large, heavy pieces. They took great care on a job that wasn’t originally part of their project. After the sign was placed volunteers edged it with granite cobblestones.
While the sign is secure for now, it’s not in an ideal position for the long term. In agreement with MPS, the sign is level with the ground. Unfortunately the surface and engraved letters will be subject to Minnesota’s freeze and thaw cycle. Water will freeze, expand and cause cracks and the eventual disintegration of the pieces.
Ideally the sign can be used in the redesign of Victory Park which is adjacent to the school and used as the school playground. The redesign was slated to begin in 2020 however has been delayed. Reportedly the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board (MPRB) redesign project manager examined the pieces but like MPS, passed on reusing the pieces. Both groups had concerns about the integrity of the pieces and reuse was not initially part of their plans.
The school was named for Charles Loring who is known as the “Father of the Minneapolis Park System.” He was an innovative, civic-minded thinker who brought us an award-winning park system. If the sign is to last another 92 years, volunteer advocates are needed with those same qualities. It’s unlikely that anything will happen with the pieces unless there is a person or group to lead the effort to incorporate these pieces in a new design. Fortunately with the park redesign about to happen, it’s an ideal time to act.
Anyone interested in learning more about the potential project or advocating for the sign’s use in the Victory Park redesign contact email@example.com or contact the Victory Neighborhood Association office at 612-529-9558.
Note: Photo by Randy Klauk.