Keep Rochester’s corn tower?

Community debates on whether it’s the cream of the crop. Should it stay up or come down?

Posted: Dec 13, 2018 7:46 AM
Updated: Dec 13, 2018 8:30 AM

ROCHESTER, Minn. – You can’t miss it when you drive in Rochester, but some say you won’t miss it if it’s gone…that is the corn water tower that sits off Highway 14 on the southside of town.

The Heritage Preservation Commission is recommending the City deem it a historical landmark. But in a letter to the City, Seneca Foods, the company which owns the property the tower sits on, said the tower should not be on the landmark list.

It argues if it was painted anything other than a cob, this discussion wouldn’t even be happening.

Now community members are stepping in. People are writing letters with their favorite memories of it to City Council. 

Kelly Schoeberl is with the effort to save the tower. She said it’s more than just pop art or a piece of industrial equipment.

She used to look forward to seeing the 149-foot-tall tower when she came to Rochester as a kid.

“That was Rochester to me, you know, that's what I saw. We're going to the town with the corn. It means the good down-home caring and friends that we've made here in Rochester,” she said.

On Wednesday night, Canvas and Chardonnay held an event to support the effort. People painted pictures of the tower and recorded a video with their stories.

Someone even created a song about the tower and posted it on Facebook.

There is actually a lot of traction on social media supporting the decision to keep the tower. But likes and comments don’t mean anything in the final decision.

“Don't assume the City Council knows how much you love the corn tower or that they see your likes on Facebook or Instagram,” Schoeberl said.

She is calling on people to get offline and get writing. She wants people to send letters to Rochester’s Senior Administrative Analyst, Brent Svenby, at bsenby@rochestermn.gov. 

These letters will be given to City Council when the issue is brought to them in early January. 

To read the letter on why Seneca wants the tower taken down, click here.

CORN TOWER QUICK FACTS

From: History Center of Olmsted County 

  1. Built in 1931 for company Reid Murdoch and Co. 
  2. The property, including the tower, then belonged to the company, Libby, and now, Seneca Foods. 
  3. From ground to the top, it is 149 feet tall. 
  4. The corn cob itself is 49 feet tall. 
  5. The water tower can hold 80,000 gallons of water. 

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