Denfeld News

July 24, 2009
Duluth News Tribune

Denfeld's distinctive chimney coming down
By Sarah Horner

Denfeld High School’s chimney, a distinguishing feature of the building’s profile, is coming down.

Work started this week to tear down the brick smokestack to prepare the building for the expansion called for under the Duluth school district’s long-range facilities plan.

The school’s addition will be attached at the chimney’s location, according to Kerry Leider, property and risk manager for the district. The high-efficiency gas boilers being installed as part of the project won’t need to use the chimney, he said.

“There was no reason to save it,” he said, and keeping the chimney would have meant paying to maintain it. “It would have become a future cost that just didn’t make sense.”

Taking it down will cost about $300,000, Leider said.

Laura Condon, the Duluth School Board member who represents western Duluth, said she hasn’t heard any complaints about the removal of the chimney.

“I haven’t heard anything … other than people telling me they’re watching the work and find it kind of fascinating,” Condon said. “I think people are beginning to understand how things are coming together over there and are getting excited. … Once it’s all done you’ll be able to see the building quite clearly from Grand Avenue.”

Not all of the chimney will be lost. Delicate work is under way to salvage various carved sandstone medallions interspersed throughout the chimney, according to Kevin Strong, program manager for Johnson Controls.

“Instead of sending those to the refuse location, we are saving them because of their historical nature,” Strong said. He added that the medallions weigh about 2,000 pounds apiece. The district also intends to salvage some of the brick in the chimney and hopes to incorporate both into the final building design.

Work on the chimney is expected to wrap up in mid to late August.

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