Hibbing demolishes landmark Dupont building

I wrote two months ago about the city of Hibbing’s plans to demolish the landmark Dupont Blasting Powder power station. I wrote then with hope the city would reconsider its decision. The Hibbing Historical Society took a stab at preserving the site somehow, but lacked funds to pay for a study. When those efforts failed and the building was marked for demolition on Feb. 20. I drove down to take some pictures of the site this Wednesday, Feb. 8, and discovered that the demolition had begun unannounced, two weeks ahead of schedule. I took the following pictures of the scene.

As I snapped these shots the editor of the local paper screeched up behind me and ran up to get some pictures, too. There was no announcement that this was happening and the city was unaware that the contractor was going to start early.

I maintain that it is good for a place to remember its past. I don’t think the building was of any particular danger to the public, as suggested without evidence, and the fact that the city can’t afford to assess such things is another reason why the squeeze on local governments is hurting society in unexpected and unintended ways.

When a culture dies it doesn’t go out screaming and fighting. It goes out quietly, strangled by the hands of people just doing their jobs. I have seen the angel of death and its name is Indifference.

This building was blown up twice by industrial accidents and rebuilt twice. It is now down for good. Four immigrant men with families lost their lives there, just as scores of miners, loggers and other workers did in the complicated history of the Iron Range. This building was a “ruin” by all definitions, but also represented a part of our story.

I don’t see any particular reason ever to return to Carey Lake park, some six miles outside town. There are better picnic tables and camp sites elsewhere, and better fishing, too. History, however, cannot be replaced. That is precisely its appeal.

Comments

  1. That’s disheartening!

  2. What was the reason for tearing this down?

    C.O.

  3. The city said the side walls were sagging and they were concerned about the building falling over. They didn’t have enough money to do any sort of structural analysis on the building, so they paid the $10,000 or whatever to tear it down. (It would have cost more to check it out first). The historical society wanted to save at least part of the building but the city would not entertain any such notion, again citing funds.

    The fact that the city is broke I believe. But the suddenness and speed of this decision appears to be motivated by some other force. My working theory is that the city economic development authority just listed Carey Lake as a “development priority” and that they have some hotty-totty idea to develop the land, probably one that will cost the city a lot more than a little structural engineering.

    I’d honestly like some city official to read this and tell me why they were in such a damn hurry.

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