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Silver Lake Power Station deemed city landmark

Rochester council votes 6-1 to give plant official protected status.

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Silver Lake power plant today. (Lee Hilgendorf)
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ROCHESTER — The Silver Lake Power Plant is on its way to being an official city landmark.

The Rochester City Council voted 6-1 to designate the Rochester Public Utilities plant as a landmark, which would require added review of changes to the exterior of the site.

Molly Patterson-Lungren, the city’s heritage preservation and urban design coordinator, said the request for designation was made as part of an effort to clear a list of potential landmarks.

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“There’s no immediate threat,” she said. “There’s no immediate plans for changes.”

While the plant currently provides steam energy for Mayo Clinic properties, Patterson-Lungren said RPU expects to decommission it within the next 10 years, and landmark status could be a step toward finding a new use for the site.

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She said the building is also eligible for consideration of the National Register of Historic Places, which could help secure funding for future renovations and restoration of the building.

Council member Shaun Palmer opposed the landmark status, noting the site was once part of Silver Lake Park and should be returned to park use if RPU stops using it. He pointed to a similar circumstance when the fire department no longer needed the station at the edge of the park.

“It’s part of the history, and I would like to see it stay with parks,” he said, voicing concern about potential restriction landmark status could include.

Other council members said that would be an issue for consideration when RPU no longer has use for the site.

“We can debate it when it’s pertinent,” council member Nick Campion said.

With the council’s 6-1 vote to approve of landmark status, Rochester City Attorney Michael Spindler-Krage is expected to bring a related ordinance change to the council for review during a future meeting.


What happened: The Rochester City Council voted to designate the Silver Lake Power Plant as a city landmark.

Why does this matter: Designation adds a layer of protection against exterior changes to the city-owned building operated by Rochester Public Utilities.

What's next: An ordinance change is needed to officially provide landmark status to the building.


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 rpetersen@postbulletin.com.
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