In 1944 the Mayo Foundation, in extending its public health research activities, formed the Rochester Child Health Institute. Dr. H.F. Helmholz, then head of Mayo Clinic’s Section of Pediatrics, selected Dr. C. A. Aldrich (pictured right) to carry out this ambitious study of the child in a community. Dr. Aldrich believed a nursery school to be an essential part of the community. Accordingly, in 1944, he and the women’s group joined forces to found the Demonstration Nursery School, which was operated by the Board of Directors under the professional supervision and direction of the Child Health Project staff. This small school enlarged into the Rochester Demonstration Nursery School with sessions held in each neighborhood of the city.
Upon Dr. Aldrich’s death in 1949, the Child Health Institute was disestablished, leaving the Rochester Demonstration Nursery School as one of its important legacies in the community. From 1948-1950 the school had capacity enrollment, but difficulties in finding space and financial support were beginning to occur. In 1952, the Board incorporated the school, renamed it Aldrich Memorial Nursery School, and made long-range plans to obtain the large permanent quarters needed to allow Aldrich to continue. In 1954, using the school’s reserve fund of $3500, they purchased the former Howe Hotel, once headquarters for the Child Health Institute, and moved it to a wooded residential lot in northwest Rochester. After a community-wide fund raising project to cover the remaining $35,000, the school opened in the fall of 1954. In 1990, after many years of saving and planning, the Board of Directors voted to move ahead with building a new facility. The new building at 855 Essex Parkway was completed in November 1991, with additions completed in 1999 and 2018, and is a wonderful place for children to learn, grow and have fun.
Aldrich Memorial Nursery School is open to preschool children of any race, religion or creed. The school is a private, non-profit corporation governed by a Board of Directors. Aldrich classrooms are licensed by the Minnesota Department of Human Services and is accredited by the National Accreditation Commission for Early Care and Education Programs.
Because the Aldrich Board of Directors acts upon the assumption that quality education is dependent on staff, efforts are made to hire the most qualified teachers. The Aldrich staff is well-educated and experienced. Each individual refreshes learning annually through in-service training, classes and professional conferences. The education, experience, and retention of the staff has allowed Aldrich to develop strong, exciting and creative programs. Aldrich is an equal opportunity employer. The Board of Directors is made up of persons chosen for their interest in excellence of programs for preschoolers. They are professionals who lend their expertise in areas of personnel, finance, legal matters, and education.