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Children's museum wants to move into downtown Rochester's 'castle'

Children's museum wants to move into downtown Rochester's 'castle'

(THE MED CITY BEAT) - The Minnesota Children's Museum of Rochester announced this week that it plans to pursue the downtown "castle" now occupied by the senior center.

The museum plans to submit a formal proposal to the city this summer. It has operated out of a 5,000-square-foot space in the River Center Plaza since 2012.

"It would be a great fit for the downtown," Dawn Devine, the museum's director told the Post-Bulletin.  "We're very family-oriented, which we don't have a lot of downtown."

Photo: 2008 / Jonathunder

The downtown castle, which has about 27,000 square feet of space, was built in 1915 as an armory for the Minnesota National Guard.  It's one of 25 properties in the county on the National Register of Historic Places.

Rochester City Council President Randy Staver said while the museum's proposal is the most thoughtful to date, there are still several other groups interested in the property. 

"We've basically told everyone to be patient since we have several months before the building becomes available," Staver told the Med City Beat. "This could be something we take up more seriously in the fall."

The seniors are expected to move out of the castle sometime next year. Work is currently under way on a new facility just north of the downtown.

Regardless of its future tenant, the city plans to maintain ownership. Staver stated any proposal brought forward will need to have a realistic business plan that demonstrates a viable operation.

"In other words, I don't wish to put the city in a position of subsidizing the operations of whatever entity occupies the building," he said.


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(Cover photo: Bruce Silcox / Minnesota Children's Museum)

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