State by Rochester Historic Pres. Comm. v. City of Rochester

C6-97-139, 1997 Minn. App. LEXIS 1003 (Ct. App. Sep. 2, 1997)



The Minnesota Environmental Rights Act does not define "historical resources," but the supreme court identified factors to be taken into account, looking principally to the criteria used for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places: the quality or significance in American history, architecture, archeology, and culture. As well as districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects of State and local importance that possess integrity of location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling and association, and that are associated with events and the lives of persons significant in our past; or embody distinctive traits of type, period, construction, or pedigree, possessing artistic value, and yielding information important in prehistory or history. 


The first wing of the bathhouse at Soldiers Memorial Field, built in 1929, was designed by Harold Crawford, an architect who designed many buildings in Rochester and surrounding communities. The balance of the bathhouse was built in 1936 to the design of another architect. The City of Rochester (city) now seeks to demolish the bathhouse. Appellant Rochester Historic Preservation Committee (RHPC), on behalf of the State of Minnesota, brought an action under the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act (MERA) against respondents City of Rochester, the Rochester Park and Recreation Department, and Rochester Sand and Gravel, Inc., seeking to prevent the proposed demolition on the ground that the bathhouse is a historic resource entitled to protection under the MERA. The district court rejected RHPC's claim, and this appeal followed.


Did the committee present evidence sufficient to show that the bathhouse was a protectible historical resource within the meaning of the MERA?




The Court held that the committee did not present evidence sufficient to show that the bathhouse was a protectible historical resource within the meaning of the MERA. Using the Under the Powderly factors the bathhouse was not associated with historic events, was not associated with the lives of significant persons, did not embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, and did not yield information important in prehistory or history.

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