HALSTAD, Minn. — Up until a month ago, a visitor to the former Norman County West High School might have thought it was business as usual for students and staff.
Brian Agather, of Resold Auction Services, had that impression when he met school administrators there late last fall.
“It looked like the school was fully operational, minus the food in the cafeteria … and the kids,” he said.
The 115-year-old school has been closed since May 2018 due to declining enrollment; however, the time has come for everything inside to be sold.
Since mid-January, Resold has been accepting online bids for the entire contents of the school, including high-end metal shop tools, commercial kitchen appliances, desks, chairs, exercise equipment, musical instruments, art supplies and theater costumes.
The complete liquidation is being done on behalf of the Norman County West School District.
“It’s just endless,” Agather said.
The two-part auction closes at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 29, and Thursday, Jan. 30.
On Monday, Jan. 27, bidders could check out the items in person on "inspection day".
Caty Larson, of Fertile, Minn., traveled with her husband to check out a pottery kiln and props for their photography business.
“Once you get here, there's a whole lot more to look at than just what we came for,” she said.
Greg Holte, a former longtime Norman County West school board member, came to browse items with his wife Pam, a former teacher and dean of students at the school.
Both graduated from Norman County West.
Holte is leading an effort by the nonprofit Halstad Business League to find another use for the building and is sad to see its contents go at auction.
“I don't know if there's any good time to have it, but it has to be done,” he said.
The sale is being conducted on the online auction platform K-BID.com. Resold Auction Services, of Lake Park, is an independent affiliate of K-BID.
At 1,350 lots, it’s one of their largest sales.
A lot can consist of one item, or hundreds. In some cases, the contents of a school closet or an entire room are considered one lot.
Linda Robinson, owner of Resold, said getting things ready was a huge task.
“You start opening up drawers and cupboards and about two, three days into the project, you're overwhelmed,” she said.
It took staff members 12 days to take more than 13,000 photos of the items.
Once the items are sold, winners can pick them up at the school between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday, or Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 3 and 4.
Built in 1905, Halstad High School was later added onto and remodeled, and it became Norman County West in the mid-1980s.
With enrollment declining and a 2018 graduating class of only 11 students, the school board decided to close the school and send students to Ada-Borup beginning that fall.
Even though the building’s contents will be sold, Holte said the school’s alumni association plans to use it as the site of its all-school reunion in July.