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Rochester, MN (KROC AM News) - Olmsted County is moving ahead with plans to demolish one Rochester landmark - but is emphasizing its intent to save another.

 The county bought the Seneca Foods canning plant site last year and is working on a plan for its future. That future won’t include the plant. Because the building was constructed in 1925, the county wanted a determination on its historical status.

“After evaluation, New History determined the Seneca Foods factory building is not eligible for placement on the National Register of Historic Places,” noted Olmsted County Director of Facilities and Building Operations Mathew Miller.

It’s expected the plant will be demolished before the end of the year.

But the county did save some artifacts from the plant site and donated them to the History Center of Olmsted County to be used for interpretive programs and exhibits, research, publications, and events, such as:

  • Red Libby’s sign
  • Black Seneca sign
  • Seneca “Our Mission” sign
  • “Thank you, employees” banner
  • Seneca plant flow diagram
  • Plant site plan

What about the Ear of Corn Water Tower that was built in 1931 and has popped up in publications around the country?

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The county says it will likely be added to the National Register of Historic Places for social history and as a representation of the work of Rudolph Betcher, the commercial artist who painted the tower.

“Because the Ear of Corn Water Tower is historically significant and because it is near and dear to the hearts of many in this community, we will continue to preserve and maintain it,” said Miller. “There is a restoration process that will be put out to bid soon that will include the corn tower and options for repainting it. Future development options will also include consideration for continued preservation of the water tower.”

The Seneca site will become part of a long-range development plan for the county’s adjacent Graham Park. The county’s master plan for Graham Park is centered on features to revitalize the gathering space and transform it into more of a regional destination. New and improved facilities, such as a multi-purpose expo center for which the county is seeking state funding to help build, will increase the park’s flexibility to accommodate a wide range of events and gatherings.

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