Rochester Public Library

Downtown Rochester

Rochester Public Library

Rochester, Minnesota 55902, United States

Created By: History Center of Olmsted County


Mr. Huber Bastian, a longtime citizen of Rochester, had died. In his will was a bequest of $5,000 for the construction of a library building. As a result of his gift and to comply with state law, the Rochester Public Library was legally incorporated in 1895.

Prior to that Rochester’s readers relied on the “Rochester Library Association” for reading materials. Established in 1865, the Library Association was a private, subscription only library.

In 1896, for the sum of $1,000, the new library board bought land one of the busiest intersections in Rochester, the corner of South Main and West Zumbro Streets. The following spring work began on southeast Minnesota’s first “public” library.

Designed by C.S. Sedgewick of Minneapolis and built at a cost of $15,000, the library looked like a fine, Victorian home. It was built of Menominee red pressed brick and trimmed in Lake Superior sandstone with a slate roof.

Burt Eaton, board president, dedicated the new building on March 3, 1898.

Originally built to serve a population of 4,500, the 1898 library would be replaced in 1937. To help the library staff with their move, hundreds of Rochester’s reading public checked out has many as ten books each to “read” over the two-week shutdown.

During World War II the old building would serve as a military induction office and after the war as the Rochester Art Center.

For sale signs went up in 1948 and the building would be razed to make way for the new First National Bank building.

History Center of Olmsted County

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


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