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A New Home for the Yellow House

This month we said farewell to the iconic Yellow Building as it starts its new journey: becoming a long-term rental home in Grand Marais.

Posted on August 9, 2023

For almost a decade, North House has wrestled with a tough decision—the iconic Yellow House’s foundation was shifting in opposite directions, and the building used first as staff office and now as a school store was being ripped in half. Countless repairs to the roof had been made over the years, and the question became: how much money do you invest in a building that no longer fits your needs?  And then, is there some way to give the building a second life?

First, North House reached out to Hamilton Habitat and the Cook County HRA to see if the building might be useful in the effort to add more housing in the community, but both organizations were unable to take on a structure that would potentially require significant work. It seemed like the best outcome at that point might be salvaging what could be reused before demolishing the structure—a fate for the building that no one felt good about.

“I love the little Yellow House,” said Executive Director Greg Wright. “When I first came to North House my office was on the main floor, and our interns lived upstairs. It was cozy, but you were right in the heart of the action. For over 21 years, that building has been part of my life every single day, and literally tens of thousands of students have begun their North House experience by walking through that front door.”

Eventually, the interns moved to the space above the Milling Shop, and the school store shifted from Blue North to the Yellow House as the staff offices moved to the Green Building, which has served the school well. But continuing issues with water leaking in through the Yellow House’s roof and the need to evolve campus highlighted a path forward was needed.

Then North House got an email from frequent volunteer and Grand Marais resident Dave Walter asking if North House was still looking for a new home for the structure:  “Is this the case? Has anyone agreed to do this? If not, I’m interested.” Dave had recently purchased a lot on County Road 7 and had been considering building a home there that could be a medium to long-term rental that would serve families in the community.

“I so admire old buildings,” Dave said. “The Yellow House has so much character and charm that you just can’t replicate. I’m really excited about this project and being able to be part of adding more housing in the community. That building will have many more decades of life once it’s on a solid foundation.” Dave will be working with a moving company to relocate the structure later this August. 

Dave’s project cleared an important milestone in June as the Grand Marais City Council approved the variance needed to make the project possible. The North House School Store will be temporarily shifting back to the Blue Building to make way for the construction of a new store and classrooms starting later this fall.

Friends of North House gathered for a farewell toast to the Yellow House in the week leading up to the move