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How Three Rochester Schools Got Their Name

Some of our school’s names are easy. Hoover, Jefferson, Lincoln. Others need some explaining. Here are three Rochester elementary schools and who they were named after.  At least one will make you say, “Wow…i wish I knew that man!”


Who was Gibbs? Turns out, George Gibbs was a  pretty important man in Rochester’s history, and the history of the USA. According to Wikipedia, George Gibbs “became the first African American to set foot on the continent of Antarctica on the Antarctic Peninsula as a member of Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd’s third Antarctic expedition” and retired from the Navy after 24 years service.

Eventually he moved to Rochester where he championed civil rights, including co-founding the Rochester, MN NAACP. Read more about his amazing and inspirational life here.



Gage is named after Robert Gage, president of the school board in 1958. He served on the board for 16 years and died in 1964, the same year they named the then brand new elementary in his honor. (Post Bulletin History)




Folwell was named for the first president of the U of M, William Watts Folwell, from 1869-1884. According to official accounts from the U, and Wikipedia his time as president experienced controversy, but overall, a good dude. Loved and advocated for parks in the MSP. Neither mention his energetic interest in eugenics (forced sterilization). He co-founded a eugenic society at the University of Minnesota (SOURCE).


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