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Answer Man: Stone house makes way for progress

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Harry Blackmun

Dear Answer Man, what happened to the old stone house that was back in the bushes along U.S. 63, on the west side of the road and just north of 75th Street? I noticed a few weeks ago that it had been knocked down, which is too bad. I'll bet that house had been there longer than any of us.

I'm guessing that house was 125 years old minimum, which means it was five times older than me. It was in ruins, basically, and too small even for use as a man cave, but you're right, it's disappointing to see another piece of our heritage disappear. There's a new home going in on that property, which is just north of the new roundabout.

Now, for your information as well as amusement, here's an email exchange I had with a reader.

Dear Answer Man, I've noticed some blue lights at the top of some of the traffic signals in Rochester. Any idea what they are? — Keith Hamm, Rochester

If you're a regular reader of this column, and regularity is good, you can anticipate my answer:


"OMG, I've answered this a half-dozen times — you simply must read my column daily … Here's a link," and I linked to the most recent time I've answer this question. Those blue lights atop the traffic lights along 12th Street Southeast (the Beltline) are to help cops catch people running red lights.

Keith responded, "I'm very new to the area and just started getting the paper and reading your column. Thanks for the answer!"

And my reply: "Then you have about 10 years of my column to catch up on! Welcome to the archives ... thanks for reading."

The good news for those of you who have been reading this column forever: By being regular readers, you don't have to spend weeks in the archives catching up.

P.S. on Blackmun's Rochester years

In my excellent Nov. 29 column , I passed along historical information from local people about Judge Harry Blackmun's time in Rochester and included a few notes from his daughter, Nancy, who lives in Massachusetts . Nancy sent a note last week to say some of the information from readers and from some historical sources is incorrect or incomplete, and because my goal is to leave a record for some Ph.D. candidate who will someday write a dissertation about Blackmun's years here, I'll admit these comments into evidence.

"Dad offered to buy Mom the lovely house belonging to Howard and Wint Gray on Sunny Slopes. It was set on the lip of the hill, with a view across to the Plummer house on the hill opposite. Its traditional design, however, didn't appeal to Mom. She was into cutting-edge modern.

"Dad's taste, to the extent that design was an interest (minimal), ran to old-fashioned.


"He had nothing whatever to do with designing the Sunny Slopes house. Mom did it with the same architect who designed the Minneapolis house. That house had barely begun to be built when Dad accepted the Mayo job.

"The Sunny Slopes house is not a replica of the Minneapolis house. It is a completely different design.

"If Mayo had anything to do with paying the architect for designing the Sunny Slopes house, I never heard about it. It sounds unlikely.

"As someone who emerged into adulthood in the Depression, Dad hated debt. He paid the whole mortgage off in eight years."

I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to my tens of thousands of readers, and I intend to pay it all back, starting tomorrow. Send questions to P.O. Box 6118, Rochester, MN 55903 or answerman@postbulletin.com.

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