Old Central School / Mayo Building

Downtown Rochester

Old Central School / Mayo Building

Rochester, Minnesota 55902, United States

Created By: History Center of Olmsted County


The Central School, referred to as “Old Central School,” was a beloved building to early residents. The five-story structure, complete with an impressive bell tower, was a source of pride, a symbol of the city’s commitment to public education. It was located on a spacious two and a half acre lot in the center of downtown; its location was how it gained its name. Horace Cook drafted the ground plans while A.M. Radcliff drew the elevation plans. The building cost $70,000 and opened May 25, 1868. Although not complete at opening, it would have over a dozen rooms and a spacious hall used for various school activities, visiting lecturers and other events. The bell tower, which housed a 1,500-pound bell, stood at the south side while a smaller tower adorned its north. Four turrets jutted skywards on the east and west sides. The building survived a fire in 1873 and was damaged by the 1883 Cyclone, which destroyed much of the city. However, its luck would not last. In 1910, a fire started on the school’s fourth floor, destroying the top two floors, roof and bell tower. It was decided not to rebuild and so a new roof was placed on the lower two floors. Its new look, far less stately, saddened Rochester citizens. It continued to be used as a school until 1926. Mayo Clinic bought the property and turned the building into office space and a medical museum until destroying it in 1950 to construct the Mayo Building.

History Center of Olmsted County

This point of interest is part of the tour: Downtown Rochester


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