The Audubon Park neighborhood is located in northeast Minneapolis. The neighborhood is bounded by Saint Anthony Parkway, Stinson Boulevard, Lowry Avenue and Central Avenue. Stinson Boulevard is also the city’s border with St. Anthony.The park and neighborhood are named in honor of John James Audubon, a great American naturalist and ornithologist. A majority of the houses in this relatively hilly neighborhood were built in the 1940s.
Source: Minneapolis Neighborhood Profiles
Michele Vevang, Erik Vevang, Anders & Freja have lived in Audubon Park off and on since 1997. The family of four moved to the Holland neighborhood in 2000 and in 2004 returned to Audubon Park.
Since 2001, Michele has owned Foiled Again Salon. It has provided Michele and Erik an opportunity to meet many awesome people in the neighborhood. The Vevangs love going out to eat and hanging out at local restaurants/bars. According to Michele and Erik, a huge bonus of living in Audubon Park is that they can walk to three different parks in three different neighborhoods from their home.
When asked about the culture of Audubon Park, Michele said:
We have a good mix of homes that are starting families, along with retired folks who have raised their families in the homes they are still in. It has a small town feel. You get to know your neighbors very well and that is a bonus to me. It is a quieter neighborhood, away from the hustle and bustle of the 13th Ave businesses, down by Surdyks. The strip of businesses on Johnson Street make it possible to be able walk to go out to eat, get a coffee, doughnuts, get your hair done, get a massage, pick up some band aids, buy clothes & shoes, get crafting supplies, get a facial. And soon, be able to to buy handbags and get acupuncture done. I don't think many other neighborhoods in NE can boast this quiet small town feel with the ability to have so many businesses so conveniently located. Down on Central Ave, we have many different ethnic restaurants, kind of like a mini Brooklyn NY.
The Tour Route
We started our tour at Foiled Again Salon at 2807 Johnson Street Northeast.
We walked north on Johnson Street NE and Michele and Erik told me about all of the businesses along the East side of the street. One of Michele's suggestions for someone visiting Audubon Park is to get a Maple Stick, a maple frosted cinnamon roll stick, at Sarah Jane's Bakery, so of course I had to try one! The bakery was extremely busy so I didn't take too many photos for fear of getting in the way of people's sugar fix! After one bite, I understood why Michele would suggest a stop at Sarah Jane's for people visiting.
While in the bakery, Erik and the kids went outside with instruction to catch up with them after our treat. After reading a text, Michele said, "Oh, the turkeys are at the park!" It was soon explained to me that she wasn't referring to her family. As we were walking toward Audubon Park, Michele explained that there were wild turkeys who have made Audubon Park their home.
After walking around the park, we intended to walk through the residential part of Audubon Park to see examples of both traditional homes for the neighborhood and the homes that stand apart. I will have to return for that part of the tour because it started raining a bit harder. We decided to return to Johnson Street. On the way, we looked at a water main which is being cleaned and lined, one of the latest segments of the city of Minneapolis to receive this treatment.
To get out of the rain, we went to The Coffee Shop Northeast, along with everyone else in the neighborhood! It was great fun to see all the neighbors talking to one another and as a visitor, it truly seemed liked everyone knew each other's names! Michele pointed out a few of the regulars and I mentioned to one gentleman how much I liked the barista's glasses. I was told her name is Trisha and that she is the star of the place! I was then told to go into the bathroom. I had no idea what to expect but was greeted by amazing photographs of Trisha, sporting a red version of the glasses I admired.
I thought it was fitting to purchase a reusable cup for my iced coffee addiction at this cute coffee shop. I tried a "dirty chai" which is chai with espresso. The Coffee Shop NE has an incredible drink list and I will certainly be back for more.
One of the reasons I wanted to schedule the tour of Audubon Park for this particular day was to see the neighborhood celebrating Johnstock, an event that has music, art vendors, games and more. As part of the celebration, the City of Minneapolis opened up Hollywood Theater for an exhibit of artwork of students at Pillsbury Elementary, Waite Park Elementary, Northeast Middle School, and Edison High School.
Our tour ended at Hollywood Theater at 2815 Johnson Street NE, a designated local historic landmark. It first opened in 1935. It has been vacant since 1987, despite redevelopment attempts by the City of Minneapolis. Upon arrival, I was "welcomed to Hollywood" by Miles Mercer, Senior Project Coordinator for Business Development for the City of Minneapolis Community Planning and Economic Development. I was able to talk to both Miles and Kristin Guild, his manager, about the city's attempts to find a buyer who would be able to support the historic nature of the venue while also supporting the values of the Audubon Park neighborhood and the culture of the Johnson Street Merchants. To learn more about the redevelopment efforts, visit the City of Minneapolis property listing.
I had my external flash with me so I asked permission to use it and tried to capture the amazing history of the theater. Michele said it felt like we were in the Titanic, a great description because it felt cavernous and run down, yet it didn't take too much of an imagination to picture the Theater packed with people during the 30s through 80s watching films of the era. Anne Seeling
While at the theater, I talked with Anne Seeling, who was representing the Audubon Park Neighborhood Association. She told me that one of their current initiatives is to help residents start rain gardens through educational workshops and 15 properties will receive free excavation for a rain garden this summer.
If you missed out on going to the public art exhibit at the Hollywood Theater, you have a couple more chances to visit the historic landmark and support a local theater company. In July, on Fridays and Saturdays, Theatre Pro Rata will be performing Waiting for Godot, by Samuel Beckett. The group was on hand to promote the play, answer questions and to raise funds for port-a-pottys, needed due to lack of plumbing at the venue.
After emerging from the theater with several shots of amazing texture, I found the rain had stopped and the sun was shining. I was happy to continue hanging out on Johnson Street and talked to the owner of Artisan Acupuncture while her sign was being installed and her business enjoying high traffic for its Grand Opening. It was a wonderful day spent in Audubon Park and while I only saw a small footprint of the entire neighborhood, I saw enough to know I will be returning soon and often.
Audubon Park Links
* Audubon Park Neighborhood Association
* Johnson Street Merchants blog
* More Audubon Park neighborhood photos
Follow-up Tour Needed
The Vevangs were great tour guides but due to the persistent rain showers during our time together, I was unable to visit as much of the neighborhood as I would like! I want to return and get another tour! Are you interested in showing me around the remaining parts of the neighborhood? Fill out the tour guide form and I will contact you to work out the details!