Rochester Central Lutheran School had its humble beginnings in 1875, as the new resident Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Rev. Ludwig von Schenk, opened the first regular Christian Day School as part of Trinity. School was held in the small church building, and students were accommodated by affixing hinged boards to the back of the pews to serve as “desks” during the week. Three years later enrollment had grown to 16 pupils. For a number of years, the pastors of Trinity also served as the only teachers in the school. In 1882, a house was rented for $18 a month to serve as the school, and classes were held four days a week. By 1884 the school had outgrown the house, and a new 18’ x 24’ school was built at a cost of $400. This school was well-known in Rochester as the “Little German School.” Twelve years later a 12-foot expansion was added.
It wasn’t until 1892 that the first regular teacher (Mr. Gustave Frank) was called, and enrollment increased from 45 students to over 100. In 1894 a new church was dedicated, and the “old” church was converted into a school building. In 1911, Pastor Weinhold came to Trinity, and since there was no teacher at that time, took over teaching the 85 pupils until a new teacher could be secured. In 1913, a new brick school was built that ultimately accommodated four classrooms. This building served Trinity Lutheran School until the new Rochester Central Lutheran School building was erected on 9th St. NW. Prior to the formation of the RCLS Association, in 1958 Trinity purchased what was known as the “Geselle property” in northwest Rochester, with the intention of building a new school facility.
In 1959, representatives of Trinity, Grace, and Redeemer Lutheran Churches signed an agreement forming the Rochester Central Lutheran School Association. Trinity Lutheran Church donated the 15-acre Geselle property to the new association as a building site. Since the initial formation of the Association, Redeemer Lutheran Church has withdrawn from the Association, and Holy Cross and Family of Christ Lutheran Churches have joined the association.
In 1961, a decision was made to construct a new school for RCLS on the Geselle property. The Minnesota District resolved to begin a new mission church, now known as Holy Cross Lutheran Church, on part of the property purchased from the RCLS association for this purpose. Construction on the new school was begun, and classes began in that facility in September of 1963, and formal dedication was held in 1964. Several additions and renovation projects since the initial building was completed have resulted in the splendid school facility we know as Rochester Central Lutheran School.