The power plant gets a new office

The power plant offices went from RPU's thriving hub to a relic along Silver Lake.

In November 1963, 501 First Ave. NE was the shiny new home of Rochester's Public Utilities Department.
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On November 20, 1963, Rochester residents got their first official look at the interior of the city’s new Public Utilities Department’s office building. Built at a cost of $240,000 and located at 501 First Ave. NE, the new facility featured a drive-up payment window and was only a short walk from the Silver Lake Power Plant. As part of the open house, citizens could also tour the 14-year-old power generating plant’s $4.3 million expansion that had been finished the year before.

Office workers at the new glass and steel structure soon discovered that if windows and doors were not sealed tightly on delivery days they could write their names in coal dust on their desks.

In 1994, five years after RPU moved to larger offices, Rochester Area Economic Development Inc. leased the building for use as a business incubator. After a $55,000 renovation, there was no mention of coal dust.

Today, there a whole lot of empty space behind the former power generating plant.
Contributed / Lee Hilgendorf

"Lens on History” is a weekly photo feature by Lee Hilgendorf, a volunteer at the History Center of Olmsted County.

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