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Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - The Rochester City Council is scheduled to hold public hearings Monday evening concerning a piece of the city's history and a major road project.

The City Council is being asked to officially designate the iconic Ear of Corn water tower at Graham Park as a Historic Landmark. The structure was built in 1931 to serve a canning plant that was last owned and operated by Seneca Foods. After the company closed it a few years ago, the property was purchased by Olmsted County and the factory was demolished after a study found the 1925 building wasn't likely to be considered for a historic designation.

Olmsted County photo
Olmsted County photo
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Another study did find the unique water tower has historic significance under two of the eight criteria established for determining whether a property should be designated a historic landmark. The study found the structure embodies "distinguishing characteristics of an architectural style, form, or treatment.

Specifically, the report found that it is a novelty type of architecture "where a sculptural form and other design elements of the structure is used to communicate its contents or purpose" with the ear of corn matching one of the key products produced by the canning plant it was used to supply water for the canning process.

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Google Maps
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The report also found it met the criteria recognizing that "its location, scale, or other physical characteristics representing an established and familiar visual scene were neighborhood, a district, the community, or the city. The eligibility report says the water tower is a recognizable landmark in the southeastern part of the city. It also notes that it has become "so recognizable and specifically attributed to Rochester" that its image is found in artwork and social media posts.

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The City Council will also hold a public hearing Monday evening concerning the proposed assessments to help cover the cost of reconstructing North Broadway from the Silver Lake Bridge north to Elton Hills Drive. The city is proposing that just under $1 million of the $15 million cost of the project be covered by assessment charges to abutting property owners.

City of Rochester
City of Rochester
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About 20 property holders are being asked to pay assessments for the project. The largest single proposed assessment is just over $337,000 for properties owned by the City of Rochester. The next highest proposed assessments would be charged to the owners of the River Center shopping mall that was previously known as Northbrook. Those assessments total nearly $240,000.

The affected property owners would have 10 years to pay off the assessments. Work on the construction project is scheduled to begin in the spring and continue into the fall of 2025.

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Gallery Credit: Troy Dunken

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