There are plenty of older apartment buildings in Rochester, Minnesota, but a quick search says The Hillside, built in 1928, is the 3rd oldest continuously operating apartment building in the city.

The Hillside, at 718 5th Street SW, Rochester, Minnesota, is like The Furlow a few blocks away, an apartment building from a different time. Hardwood floors throughout, and many built-ins that are still in use, almost 94 years later.

The Hillside

There isn't a lot of historical information available, but through conversations with former residents, long-time Rochester residents, and current residents, by both the Community Manager, Daniel Reising, and myself, we can piece together some interesting tidbits.

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1) There used to be rooftop parties, sadly, these ended at least twenty years ago due to "safety issues."

2) All of the non-corner apartments (first through the fourth floor), had two entrances. The main door into the apartment, and a door down the hall, with its own screen door, leading into the kitchen.

On hot days, the door could be opened, leaving the screen door closed, to create a cross breeze in the apartment. It was also used for deliveries.

The Hillside
The Hillside

The screen doors were removed a few years ago, and the space filled with wood matched to the door jam. Some apartments still have the original door in the kitchen (as in the photo above).

3) At some point, Hillside Apartments had outside clothing lines made up of massive iron pipes. Sometime prior to 1940, they removed the exterior clotheslines and constructed an interior, ceiling drying rack with laundry lines out of wooden 2x4s.

4) The community used to have functional laundry and incinerator chutes. The incinerator chutes are now sealed inside of locked utility closets. It is possible that due to a change in the boiler system, they were sealed.

The Hillside
The Hillside

The laundry chutes are still found in the hallways, but they too have been closed up. There is no sign in the laundry room of a ceiling opening the laundry would have come down through.

5) Some apartments still retain their original cast-iron sinks. The only other location this writer has seen this kind of sink previously was in a farmhouse in Nebraska (that being Daniel).

6) Some apartments had a shared door, allowing access between apartments. Eventually, they were bricked over and plastered.A  few of these apartments still have a faint outline in their bedroom walls in the size and proportions of a doorway.

7) There is a parking garage, which once used carriage-style doors. A more modern garage door was installed years ago, but the carriage doors are still visible.

8) The elevator used to be a cage or gate elevator (see video). You pulled the cage door closed and hit the button. It was very common in the 1920s when it was built. The entire elevator system was replaced in the last decade.

I've had quite a few friends that lived in The Hillside and have seen and used both the now gone screen doors and the old cage elevator.

LOOK: See Inside The Hillside, Rochester's 1926 Apartment Building

Built in 1926, The Hillside was extremely modern for the time,

In the interest of transparency - I am personally connected with The Hillside, but no money changed hands for this story. No promise of any sort was made. I just think it's a really cool building.

As always, if you have a comment, complaint, or concern about something I wrote here, please let me know:


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