Physically outside of the Proctor community, Bayview School is the now-longtime home of elementary education for young students who live in Proctor. On a more sentimental level, the School truly serves as a “home away from home” for lifelong community members who look back on their childhoods.

Originally a part of the Duluth School District, Bayview Elementary School was built in 1919 under the watchful eye of the Duluth School Board and contained three classrooms measuring 730 square feet each, a gym-lunchroom, and a kindergarten room. As a neighborhood school built to serve primary students in the Bayview Heights area of Duluth (and replacing an 1890s, one-room schoolhouse located off Vinland Street on 81st Avenue), there was little need for a large building. And as the Proctor School District opened an elementary school of its own, the need for facilities lessened even more. In turn, by the 1940s, Bayview School essentially became a two-classroom facility.

By this time, the two classrooms (each hosting three grades – grades 1-3, grades 4-6) were on the first floor, where there was also a kitchen/lunchroom/auditorium. The principal’s office and a gym, which was rarely used and left unheated during winter, were on the second floor. With these facilities placed nearly at the center of the close-knit Bayview Heights community, the school building served as the focal point for many activities, ranging from flower shows to political debates, especially during its first thirty years in existence.

Bayview School_PAHS
Image Detail, Bayview Elementary School // Courtesy of the Proctor Area Historical Society

Proctor Schools Superintendent A.I. Jedlicka saw opportunity with the Bayview School from the date of its completion, and he made it a goal to unite Bayview and Proctor as early as the 1920s. Of course, the idea took time to germinate in others’ minds, and in 1947 the Duluth School Board decided Proctor could better care for its Bayview Heights students. The two school districts inked a deal in which Duluth paid Proctor $110 for each elementary student and $165 for each junior and senior high student who attended schools in Proctor across district lines. In a year when the Legislature failed to appropriate money for schools, this was an important benefit for the Proctor School District, which had previously been operating at a loss — due in part to nearly 100 Duluth children who attended Proctor and did not pay tuition or have aid allocated into Proctor on their behalf.

This funding discrepancy was the effect of a state law that prevented Proctor from receiving any state aid for Duluth students, which left these students to be educated at Proctor citizens’ expense. Even though the consolidation had been approved by the Proctor and Duluth school boards as being economically, geographically, and socially beneficial, it was 1961 before this merger was officially approved by the St. Louis County Board. Once the merger was official, the Proctor School District almost began work immediately to enhance Bayview Elementary.

An addition in 1962 was the first in a long line of renovations and expansions to Bayview School. This first expansion included the addition of a reading room and speech room, six classrooms measuring 840 square feet each, and a library. In 1967, a music room was also added. After another addition in 1980, the school contained 12 classrooms in addition to its existing facilities, but following continued need, the school proceeded to expand years later and, in 2003, added another wing of classrooms, even developing the “swamps” behind the school to enhance naturalist educational opportunities in the Bayview School Forest. This was most recently followed by the addition of another wing and a total demolition and replacement of the original 1919 portion of the school in 2014.

Today, after numerous enhancements to the school through its 95 years, the original 1919 structure no longer remains. However, Bayview School – as Proctor’s very own “home away from home” – holds a special place in the minds and hearts of Proctor residents for its long-held role as an educational staple in the Proctor community.