Willard Hay is located in the northwest part of the city. The neighborhood is south of West Broadway Avenue and stretches from Penn Avenue to Xerxes Avenue. It gets its name from two elementary schools within its borders: Francis Willard and John Hay. The former was named after an American educator, author and reformer born in 1859, and the latter was named after an American diplomat and author born in 1839. A mainly residential area, the neighborhood includes Willard-Homewood, one of the city's first planned developments, built during the first quarter of the 20th century and located south of Plymouth Avenue.
Source: City of Minneapolis profile of Willard Hay neighborhood
In 1998, owner, George Roberts expanded on this vision during a zoning hearing:"I have been a resident of Homewood, in North Minneapolis, since the fall of 1970. I have been a teacher of English and writing at North Community High School, ten blocks from my home, since 1974. During all this time I have been developing as an artist, poet and printer, and have viewed all these activities as “my work.”
My family life, my teaching life and my artistic life are all bound irrevocably to my neighborhood, Homewood, which has a diverse and interesting history and which has undergone considerable change for the better since I first moved in. I live two blocks from the building I want to purchase and develop as Homewood Studios.
I view art as a primary way to build community and to enhance my neighborhood. A plethora of accomplished artists of all kinds are my neighbors, and we have no gathering place, no venue where our collective energies can coalesce, no place where one plus one might begin to equal three.
It is my hope to create a nexus point in my neighborhood where art and artists, friends and neighbors, students and teachers, children and adults can find nurture and where they might fulfill themselves and their community.
I view this building, 2400 Plymouth Avenue, as an addition to my home, as an extension of my classroom. And I view this enterprise, the opening of Homewood Studios, as the first step in revitalizing an entire commercial block, and thereby the aspirations and nascent visions of our entire community." (Source: Homewood Studios website).
"Shirley Jones, MFA has been teaching art in the public school system for over 30 years. She completed her Masters of Fine Art (MFA) degree at the Minneapolis College of Art & Design. Her career has been honored with exhibits at the Phipps Art Center, Minneapolis Institute of Art, St. Paul Companies and the Guthrie Theatre. Currently, much of her time is spent teaching and creating innovative pieces of artwork."
Bill told me about the work of resident, Lorraine who does programming at the park. She does this on her own without financial support. She has been known to go from having curse words spat at her by youth experiencing frustrating situations and through her balance of compassion and discipline, earns the respect and love of those same children. In fact, during our visit to the park, Bill and I hung out with a group of kids who had kind words for Lorraine. Sounds like a future neighborhood gem post to me!
Willard Hay/Homewood Links
* Willard Homewood Organization
* Minnesota Compass neighborhood data - Willard Hay (PDF)