Silver Lake Park being considered for historic designation

A public hearing is scheduled for Tuesday for input related to potential status change for park that is the subject of a proposed plan for a series of updates.

Runners make their way through Silver Lake Park during the Med City Marathon on Sunday, Sept. 12, 2021, in Rochester. Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — Public comment will be sought Tuesday to determine whether Silver Lake Park should be designated as a historic city landmark.

The Rochester Heritage Preservation Commission will hold a public hearing during its 5 p.m. meeting Tuesday before considering whether to recommend the Rochester City Council designated the area as a historic landmark. The hearing will occur in council chambers of the city-county Government Center, 151 Fourth St. SE.

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The hearing comes a week after the council reviewed a proposed master plan for changes throughout the park, which could cost $14 million to $17.5 million throughout multiple phases.

The plan includes the creation of an area dedicated to the park’s history.

Silver Lake and the surrounding park was created in the 1930s with the construction of the dam near Broadway Avenue. The dam and other elements of the park were financed primarily through a series of Great Depression-era federal work-relief programs.


Michael Koop of the State Historic Preservation Office said the park project began as early as 1916 when the North Rochester Civic Association began suggesting the county’s first recreational lake be constructed.

“By 1925, the Rochester City Council had acquired 20 acres for a tourist park and, by 1929, a proposed lake was added to the plans,” he wrote in a letter supporting the proposed designation change for the park.

The history of the site, however, dates back further, with an oral history among the Dakota people and nearby archaeological sites pointing to a connection to indigenous residents prior to the arrival of European settlers.

Proposed revisions to Silver Lake Park calls to replace pool with splash pad, but includes option to change direction.

The proposed park master plan seeks to recognize the connection to the Dakota people by setting aside space to be designed with current Dakota community members, with the intended use as a ceremony and gathering space.

For Tuesday’s discussion, a report pointing to potential historic designation suggests the status change could be based on the park's ties to federal relief programs and its historic visual presence in the city.

If the commission recommends designating the park as a local historic landmark, the issue will be sent to the Rochester City Council for review during a future meeting.

Silver Lake Park HPC Report by randy on Scribd

Upcoming meetings

Meetings scheduled to be held during the week of Sept. 26 include:



  • Public Utility Board, 4 p.m. Tuesday in the Rochester Public Utilities community room, 4000 East River Road NE.
  • Heritage Preservation Commission, 5 p.m. Tuesday in council chambers of the Government Center, 151 Fourth St. SE.
  • Planning and Zoning Commission, 6 p.m. Wednesday in council chambers of the Government Center.

Olmsted County

  • Rochester-Olmsted Council of Governments, noon Wednesday in conference room A at 2122 Campus Drive SE in Rochester.
Randy Petersen joined the Post Bulletin in 2014 and became the local government reporter in 2017. An Elkton native, he's worked for a variety of Midwest papers as reporter, photographer and editor since graduating from Winona State University in 1996. Readers can reach Randy at 507-285-7709 or
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