Q: What was the first substantial business on the North Mankato hill? Did the school come first and businesses followed, or were there businesses there first?
A: North Mankato is 115 years old this year (and in Ask Us’s opinion, doesn’t look a day over 35). But the city was content to stay below the bluff for its first 60 years. And the hilltop was pretty much exclusively rural agricultural land as recently as the 1950s, said Bob Sandeen of the Nicollet County Historical Society.
Sandeen recalls aerial photos of the city taken by a local man in 1958.
”One of the pictures he took shows the hilltop area of North Mankato, and there was nothing up there but farm land,” Sandeen said. “I would guess the TV studio was one of the first things up there.”
We ran that educated guess by Bill Schimmel, who moved to North Mankato in 1962 to teach social studies at Mankato High School and later represented the city on the county board for 16 years.
”I think KEYC was before the technical college,” Schimmel said.
He’s right about that. KEYC signed on for the first time on Oct. 5, 1960, from their then-remote studio on Lookout Drive.
Mankato Area Vocational Technical Institute (now South Central College) was on Park Lane in Mankato from 1950 through most of the 1960s, moving to its new $2.5 million hilltop North Mankato building in 1968, according to the City of Mankato Historical Context Study.
As for the Taylor Corp. the subsidiaries that now cover so much of those former farm fields, those were only a glint in the eye of a stamp machine operator at Mankato-based Carlson Wedding Service when KEYC was building its studios. Glen Taylor was then just a college student working the stamp machine and paper cutter for owner Bill Carlson.