On this page you'll be introduced to historic sites in the
Farmington area. Some of them are simply interesting points of
local interest, but many have a unique place in the history of
Minnesota or have even been deemed of National significance. Each
is well worth the trip to see in person and, hopefully, this page
will help you understand these sites and the role they played in
our rich history.
||Indicates a site that is of National historic significance and
has a marker in place from the National Register of Historic
Location: 412 Oak Street
"I drove my horse 3,000 miles each year,
over the prairies, and held services in schoolhouses, wayside inns,
the forest, in houses of worship loaned us by Christians of other
commissions, and in our churches." So wrote Episcopal Bishop
Whipple who came to Minnesota in 1859 and is considered responsible
for the design selection of the Church of the Advent at 412 Oak
Street. Parishioners constructed the church in 1872, a year after
the formation of the parish, based on a design appearing in Richard
Upjohn's 1852 book Upjohn's Rural Architecture, Designs, Working
Drawings, and Other Specifications for a Wooden Church and Other
Rural Structures. Upjohn's book was published in New York, where
Whipple had been a clergyman. Many believe Bishop Whipple suggested
the design book to the Farmington congregation. The Bishop
consecrated the church in 1873.
The church is a fine example of small Gothic-Rivival churches
built in Minnesota under Bishop Whipple.
Location: 19185 Akin Road
The Daniel F. Akin House holds a unique
position in Minnesota and national history; it has been the site of
continuous weather observation since 1885. Coupled with Fort
Snelling weather observations, the area surrounding the Twin Cities
can boast over 160 years of continuous daily weather records free
from urban "heat island" effects. Daniel Akin (1828-1909) was born
in New York state, educated at Yale University, and came to St.
Paul from Virginia in 1856. Soon after, he settled in Lakeville
Township (that part which was later annexed by Farmington) and
built his limestone house between 1856 and 1860. Akin began his
weather observations for the Army Signal Corps, then continued with
the National Weather Bureau when it was established in 1891. A
farmer and surveyor, Akin also served as president of the Dakota
County Fair Association from 1872 to 1876.
Akin's descendants kept up the tradition of weather observation.
Perhaps the most famous of these descendants was Jerome
Akin (1896-1985), Daniel's grandson, who kept weather
records for sixty years. (He also served as county commissioner
from 1949 to 1968.) In 1975 Jerome Akin recalled some
weather highlights, citing 1936 as the most extreme year.
That year he recorded 40 days of zero or below including
one day of 40 below. He also recorded a summer shade temperature
of 110. The worst winter storm? The 1940 Armistice Day
Blizzard. The worst summer storm? A storm that struck
north of Lakeville on May 9, 1973.
The Exchange Bank Building was built at
344 Third Street in 1880 after a disastrous fire in 1879 destroyed
many wooden structures in the downtown Farmington area. This
handsome commercial building consists of red and buff colored brick
with limestone trim. The keystones in the arches are stone with a
floral design. The cornice and pediment appear to be of pressed
When the building opened in 1880, it was known as the Bank of
Farmington and occupied the south side of the first floor, with a
hardware store on the north side. The post office occupied the rear
of the first floor and an opera or music hall was located on the
second floor. Neill's 1881 history of the county states that the
music hall could seat five hundred people! It is believed that
after the 1896, the Exchange Bank took control of the Bank of
Farmington, and the building became commonly known as the Exchange
Although there have been some alterations to the storefront, the
building remains one of the best-preserved 19th-century commercial
structures in Dakota County. When it was placed on the National
Register in 1980, it was owned by James K. Rietz of Owatonna.
Location: 400 2nd Street (Razed)
Sometimes not even National Register status has the power to
save buildings from bulldozers and wrecking balls. The Farmington
Milwaukee Road Depot is a case in point. Built in 1894, the depot
was the "only major railroad structure remaining" in a Dakota
County town when it was put on the National Register in 1979.
The depot was a symbol of the railroad heritage of Farmington.
The town grew up at the intersection of two railroad lines-the
Minnesota Central and the Hastings and Dakota (constructed in the
1860s) both of which were later absorbed by the Milwaukee Road.
From 1910 to 1921, the town possessed a large freight yard.
In 1984, after effort-filled years by some Farmington residents
to save it, the depot fell victim to the Milwaukee Railroad's
bankruptcy proceedings and the bulldozer. The Milwaukee Road said
it could not afford to maintain buildings of civic interest as well
as jobs and service.
If you know of a local site in this area that you feel should be
acknowledged for its historic significance we'd love to hear about
it or help you to investigate and document the site. Please contact
the us at:
Dakota County Historical Society
130 Third Avenue North
South Saint Paul, MN 55075
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