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Answer Man: Father of Our Country went missing

A postcard image of the Lincoln statue that stood for years in Rochester's Mayo Park. The Lincoln monument and a Washington statue disappeared over the years.

Dear Answer Man, at one time there was a statue of George Washington in a public park in Rochester. What park was it in and what happened to it? -- Robert Jenkins

That statue of the Father of Our Country was in Mayo Park, back when Mayo Park was a full-sized beauty along the mighty South Fork Zumbro. As you know, the park is now mainly the home of Mayo Civic Center, the Rochester Civic Theatre and the Rochester Art Center. There was a companion statue of Abraham Lincoln holding the Emancipation Proclamation, and they were arrayed alongside an elegant fountain.

According to Ted St. Mane's excellent Images of America book on Rochester , "this statuary park was located in a portion of Mayo Park approximately where the 1995 Rochester library was built. Not only is the statuary area gone, but also the statues themselves are unaccounted for."

If you know more about what happened to these works of art — gifts to the city from the Mayo family, dedicated in 1911 — let me know.

Washington was the indispensable man in the American Revolution and among the greatest of U.S. presidents, but I know of only two statues of him in Minnesota. One is on the grounds of the Mower County Courthouse in Austin, and the other is in the park by the Minneapolis Institute of Art.


Another angle on 65th Street

As you know, I 'm the world's authority on 65th Street Northwest and issues related to it , including how the city spent a bunch of money to build the interchange there. After my recent epic on the topic, an informed reader sent this note:

"The 65th Street interchange was also to spur growth on the northwest side of Rochester … (but) check with Rochester Public Works … no new building of any kind can go north of 65th Street until new sewer and water lines come in from 75th Street.

"The cost is tremendous compared with the costs on the south side of 65th Street. I have been told that it would be 20-30 years at least (for expansion of the system). The sewer line that handles that area will be full with the development that can occur south of 65th Street."

I checked these assertions with Richard Freese, the public works director, and bear with me, this is fascinating.

"The city has the capability to serve about 350 acres of land north of 65th Street Northwest," Richard said by email. Here's the lowdown on that acreage.

" Menards owns about 70 acres on the west side of Highway 52 north of 65th Street Northwest that is currently served by city sanitary sewer and water and can be developed.

"There are about 130 acres on the east side of the highway and north of 65th Street that are within the city limits, currently served by city sanitary sewer and water, and can be developed.


"There are about 150 additional acres on the east side of Highway 52 and south of 75th Street that, with some additional capacity enhancements, can be served with city sanitary sewer upon annexation."

If the city wants to expand and serve more than the 350 acres above, "it will require a significant city investment upwards of $75 million in public sewer and water systems," Richard said. "That investment could ultimately support up to 25,000 additional city residents and serve over 4,000 acres."

That investment is unlikely, Richard said, "at this time when other areas of the city have available sewer and water infrastructure with capacity to support new growth and development."

All this may be common knowledge at City Hall, but for the rest of us, it's enlightening and it puts that $17.3 million 65th Street interchange into fuller context. The development potential is limited, and about a quarter of that potential is owned by Menards.

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