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Answer Man: Kruse Lumber celebrates a century close to home

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Image via Kruse Lumber
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Dear Answer Man, I've been told that Kruse Lumber is the oldest business in Rochester still in its original location. Is that true?

It's true enough. Kruse opened its doors 100 years ago this year, and according to a company history online , it was founded by Henry Johannes Kruse in 1915 at 112 E. Winona St., now Seventh Street Northeast. He paid $1,500 for two lots on the south side of the street and put up a building in fall 1915. That building still stands, but the lumber yard moved across the street some years later, and Brian Hodge,president and owner of Kruse, says he's unsure whether H.J. originally had property on both sides of the street.

"I've seen different things and some photos of the north side of the street that go back 70 or 80 years, but I've never had anybody check the records," Brian says, and I'm not about to do that legwork either. It's enough to say that Kruse has been within several feet of its original location since it opened a hundred years ago, which is an amazing feat.

Are there other Rochester businesses that can top Kruse's claim? What's the oldest private business in Rochester, regardless of location? My research team is hard at work and I'll have more on this soon, but you're welcome to help.

In contention for the title of oldest private business that's still kicking: This newspaper, though there are caveats I'm working out.

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Dear Answer Man, I was driving through Wanamingo the other day and saw yard signs for Minnesota WiFi. Is that the local telecom up there?

Minnesota WiFi is a phone service and Internet company based in Kasson that was started "out of frustration with the lack of options for fast, high-speed Internet in Dodge County," according to their website. Owner Darin Steffl says they have data speeds up to 1,000 megs, though most of their plans are for more like 30 megs. They've been in business for about three years.

Also based in Kasson, since you ask about local telcoms — and for the record, a "telcom " is just about any company that offers communications service such as phone and Internet — is the 114-year-old KMTelecom , an independent, family-owned company that has served the Kasson, Mantorville, Rock Dell and Dodge Center areas since Teddy Roosevelt was president. KMTelecom offers TV and bundles as well as phone and Internet.

The Minnesota-based Blandin Foundation, which p romotes availability of broadband service in rural areas, says Dodge County is among counties that are doing well for broadband availability.

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