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The dean of Rochester businessmen

Arthur Gooding was born in 1871. He graduated from Rochester High School in 1888 when all four senior high school classes sat in one room, and he accepted a job as an office boy for Union National Bank. He was paid $10 per month and "didn’t ask what the hours were."

Part of his job was sweeping the floor, filling and de-ashing the coal stove, and keeping the lamps filled. The telephone and typewriters were yet to come. Gooding was promoted to bookkeeper, teller, assistant cashier and cashier.

He married Francis Faitoute of Rochester, an accomplished pianist, in 1895. They received a Steinway as a wedding gift, and their house at 411 Sixth Ave. S.W. (photo above) became a social hub and gathering place for musical groups.

In 1908, Gooding was asked to be president of First National Bank. Gooding built the Arthur Hotel (named after him), became Food and Fuel Administrator for Olmsted County during World War I and chaired the county’s War Price and Rationing Board during WWII. While a state senator from 1919 to 1923, he introduced the bill that created Whitewater State Park. He served on school and library boards, the Rochester Commercial Club (forerunner of the Chamber of Commerce), Olmsted County Historical Society, Rochester Rotary, and Masons.

He retired in 1936 yet continued to manage his properties from an office above Massey’s well into his 90s.


The man called "the dean of Rochester businessmen" died Aug. 9, 1971, at age 100. The contents of the Gooding home, including the Steinway, were sold at a three-day estate sale that year. The landmark mansion was razed in 1978 to make way for Highpoint condominiums (inset photo).

Next week: The place to go when your "dogs were barking."

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