Ok, stick with me here. Can you remember how your elementary school smelled? I can. Vividly. A hint of food from the cafeteria wafting down the halls, the cleaning products used by the custodian, and a heady mix of paste and crayons.
The kids who gathered in the classrooms of the Toimi School were no different. The sign outside of the school explains to visitors: “Students carried their lunches made of homemade bread, meat, squeaky cheese, or Finnish flatbread in lard pails. Among the students’ most lasting memories is the enticing aroma of food thawing beside the wood stove in the winter.”
The school was completed in 1914 to serve the families of Finnish immigrants who settled in the area about 50 miles NE of Duluth. It was initially built with only one classroom and a library. By 1920, it had expanded to two classrooms. Living quarters for the teacher were also added to give us the lovely school we see today.
Declining enrollment caused the school to close in 1942. The county used the building for several years before it was turned over to the Toimi School Community Center Board in 1991. A group of dedicated community volunteers has restored the school and work to keep the history of Toimi and memories of the families that settled there alive. The Toimi School is open to visitors on Saturdays throughout the summer. For more information, visit their Facebook page.