Minnehaha neighborhood is located in south Minneapolis. The neighborhood is bound on the east by Hiawatha Avenue, on the south by 54th Street East, on the west by 34th Avenue South and on the north by Minnehaha Parkway East. Minnehaha and its neighbor Hiawatha both received their names from an Ojibwe mentioned in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, The Song of Hiawatha. Minnehaha means “laughing waters,” [author note: this is inaccurate] as the waterfall in what is now Minnehaha Park were dubbed in Longfellow’s poem.
Source: City of Minneapolis profile of Minnehaha neighborhood
Kelly and Ian Stade have lived in their Minnehaha home since 2008. Kelly and Ian are both librarians at Hennepin County Library. Kelly manages the St. Louis Park Library and Ian works at Special Collections at Minneapolis Central Library. Ian helps manage the Hennepin County Library Tumblr blog. In their free-time they read, bicycle in the neighborhood, ski and hike at Fort Snelling State Park. They spend a lot of time in their backyard with their cats under their stately Elm tree. Kelly volunteers for the Tubman Center and Ian is involved in their church, St. Joan of Arc.
Ian, Kelly, my friend Shaylie, and I walked around a great deal of the Minnehaha neighborhood on a beautiful September day in 2011. Prior to our walk, Ian prepared our tour route and following the walk, he and Shaylie provided me with the below descriptions of our stops. Ian's expertise in neighborhood history research shines through in this post! When asked how he would describe the neighborhood, Ian responded:
It's a neighborhood in transition, there are some lifelong residents, new homeowners, young couples, and young families. Traditionally a lot of VA employees lived in the neighborhood. Now there are a lot of households that have at least one member that commutes to work via the 50th Street Light Rail Station.
For the first half of the 20th century there were housing covenants that forbade people of color from buying houses roughly south of 38th street, I think that is reflected today in the makeup of this neighborhood. According to the 1980 census there were 33 African Americans out of 4,138 Minnehaha Residents.
In 2000, the number had increased to 222 out of 4,058. The 2010 Census recored 238 African Americans out of 3980 total. Overall diversity is changing as well, whites made up 96% of the population in 1980 by 2000 they were 86% and in 2010 whites made up 81% of the neighborhood's population. In 2010 the population of Minneapolis was about 60% white and 18.3% African American.
What makes this neighborhood unique is a mini-downtown on 34th Street [where several neighborhoods merge] Minnehaha combined with Keewaydin, Morris Park and Wenonah neighborhoods almost function like a small town.
Two Main Themes of our tour:
We met at the Stade home and walked down the street to our first stop, Bob Corbiit's home.
Bob Corbit House
5228 43rd Avenue South
Bob Corbit's house was built by Warren A. Briggs in 1912 (addition in 1916). Briggs worked as a clerk. Warren and Florence Briggs had two daughters Bettie and Doris, according to the 1920 census.
We lucked out as Bob was working in his front yard when we walked by. He invited us in to fully experience his art. When asked about the impetus of his landscaping, he said he didn’t like to mow.
Bob is working on creating a large deck around three ponds, one of which is home to several Koi fish including baby koi. Along with several sculptures, some of which were created by friends, Bob owns three original seats from the Metropolitan Stadium.
5203 43rd Avenue South/4395 52nd Street East
Grocery store built in 1916, Bakery added in 1923. The bakery closed in 1930 and was converted to an apartment.
Plantique Garden Store
5152 Hiawatha Avenue
Plantique started out as a hybrid, selling plants and antiques. Now it offers annuals, perennials and custom-mixed containers as well as bird baths, fountains, arbors and a unique selection of garden accents. This was originally the site of a refreshment stand/house (1914) built and owned by Henry H. Auge, a bartender who worked on Washington Avenue. His son Aerion worked at Longfellow Gardens. It was replaced by a gas station in 1929 and the gas station was converted to a dry cleaner in 1957.
Charles C. Patten House and Minnehaha Dance Pavilion (razed)
5020-5028 Hiawatha Avenue
Larry Millett – “ca. 1875-1880, A restored Italianate house with prominent hoods above the second-story windows, a bracketed cornice, and a two-story bay window. This may be the oldest home in Nokomis [Community].”
Most probably the 2nd oldest house in the neighborhood. Original lot of origin unknown. Charles C. Patten owned the house around the turn of the century, he ran the merry-go-round in Minnehaha Park. Moved up on the lot by Charles Patten in 1910.
There also was a dance pavilion in front located at 5020 Hiawatha originally built by Andrew Foster in 1891. It was known for its coarse language, whiskey-drinking, gambling and close dancing by the time a man Adelbert L. Gardner owned it, according to an 1899 Minneapolis Tribune article. C. Lewis and J.A. Gardner were convicted of running a disorderly house and it was shut down in 1899. The structure continued to exist until at least 1906, when according to the permit card, alterations were made to it.
The midnight streetcar that ran from the falls north to downtown after the dance halls closed was also known to be quite rowdy according to the 1899 Tribune article. In 1908, the intersection of 49th Street and Hiawatha was closed in an effort to drive out the dance halls, pavilions and roller rinks that surrounded Minnehaha Park.
Mary Crocker House
5016 44th Avenue
Built by Mary Crocker in 1889. Millett- , “One of the handful of Victorian homes that overlook Minnehaha Park. The outstanding feature is a wraparound porch that offers a primer in the joy of spindle work.” Crocker’s name is on a few pieces of real estate in the neighborhood – although married, Crocker may have had an independent entrepreneurial spirit which increased when she became a widow, investing in and building real estate.
5000 Hiawatha Avenue
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Opened in June 1995 by Don Mattson, a long time Nokomis resident. It replaced the Falls Superette gas station. It was originally take out only but later tables for added for “eat-in” service. Baby back ribs smoked with applewood are the restaurant’s speciality. On weekends the restaurant services breakfast which features homemade pancakes. Reviews always note the excellent service at the restaurant. The barbecue sauce is very accessible for a Minnesota palate and is bottled and sold to interested customers. Another unique thing about the restaurant is it has been alcohol and smoke free since opening – very family friendly.
Nokomis East Gateway Garden
4224 50th Street East
This is a butterfly garden with a goal of beautification of the neighborhood sponsored by the Nokomis East Neighborhood Association.
Art Hallman’s Landscaping Project
4125 50th Street East
We stopped to talk with Art Hallman, a retired massage therapy instructor, who was in the process of creating a stone fence and tiered landscaping for his front lawn. The original owner obtained rocks from the Mississippi RIver for an older fence and Art reused them by removing concrete from them by dipping them in acid.
Andrew J. and Mary W. Foster’s house
5026 44th Avenue
Built in 1880s and moved from 5026 44th Avenue in 1911. Andrew J. Foster was an early settler in the Minnehaha neighborhood. He moved here by 1883. He was a merchant, fruit farmer and real estate developer. Foster was born in Maine in 1827 and died in Minneapolis in 1906. He moved to Minneapolis in 1849, first homesteading at Franklin and 16th Avenues. His first homestead was later Foster’s first addition. His second and third additions were located in Minnehaha neighborhood. After Foster’s death, his daughter Ada Mills lived in the house with her daughter Edith Hanyes and son-in-law Frederick Haynes until 1911.
Former grocery/meat market and Current Private Residence
5025 43rd Avenue
A former building at this address was the site of the Minnehaha Post Office, 1898. The current building was built 1907 and it was Peter Johnson grocer in1915. In 1930 Kraines Brother Grocery and Peter Johnson Meats which closed in 1968.
The building is currently a private residence owned by Sheldon Otte. He happened to be there when we walked by and told us of the renovations done on the building. The front windows are re-purposed from the first Mayo skyscraper, the Plummer building, in Rochester, MN. One of his tenants, Clark, sells books online and occasionally sells them from the front area of the building. Sheldon told us that there is indication that this building was relocated from Fr. Snelling and that the foundation, from 1885, doesn’t match the rest of the building. One of the interesting things found in the building’s ceiling when he moved in was a Scandinavian postcard from 1892. Sheldon lives next door in the Dutch Colonial architectural style home.
Minnehaha United Methodist Church
3701 50th Street East
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The first church was built in 1889 at 40th Avenue and 52nd Street. The first church became Trinity Lutheran Church of Minnehaha Falls in 1923. This church was built in 1924 with an addition in 1956. There was a fire in 1958 in which 5 firemen were hurt when the roof to the annex collapsed. A new education building was built shortly thereafter. Probably most famous for being the church of Sara Jane Olson (aka Kathleen Soliah) which stood by her during her trial as a Symbionese Liberation Army member who had participated in a 1970s terrorist bombing. They supported her but did not excuse her acts as a revolutionary. The congregation was described as “close-knit and liberal-minded” in a 1999 article. Olson was involved in housing issues and was a volunteer at the center for victims of torture. Her daughter (voice) and husband (trumpet) provided music during Sunday services. Soliah's husband, Gerald F. Peterson, said to the congregation, "I am overwhelmed by the love and support of this congregation."
5001 34th Avenue South
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The building was built in 1926, was a restaurant by 1935. The current occupant, Al Vento, opened in 2004 and has received a lot of good reviews (check out Twin Cities Restaurant Blog for some food photos) and one of the favorite features is their excellent patio.
First known for its dinners, now also a great lunch spot. Brunch is also served on weekends. Nothing better on a summer evening then dinner on the Al Vento patio. Great southern Italian (no cream sauces!) restaurant. The menu changes daily, features about 2 dozen Italian-inspired dishes. We have had excellent gnocchi, risottos, lasagna and appetizers here. A sense of adventure always helps when ordering here – everything is good and interesting. Dessert is also good – tiramisu and crème brulee. Nice Italian wine list. Weekly Specials: 1/2 price bottles of wine everyday 4:30pm-6:00pm, and all night Sunday & Monday Date Night every Tuesday - 4 courses for $20 Sandwich Night every Wednesday - $5 sandwiches
This is the site of where Ian's wife, Kelly had one of her first meetings with his family which he recounts:
My sister, who lives in Longfellow, picked Al Vento as a place to celebrate her birthday dinner. With food allergies, vegetarians and acid reflux, we are a hard group to find a restaurant for. Well – one family member ordered fettuccini thinking alfredo – when it came with a red sauce he couldn’t eat it because of heartburn issues, and they tried to accommodate him but he refused to eat. Kelly saw us in all our splendor and still married me!
3 Tiers Bakery [Now Closed]
Opened in 2009, formerly Scandia Bakery. Anders E. Wagg opened the first bakery here in 1935, and a bakery has been in this location ever since. Scandia Bakery operated from 1993 to 2009. It was founded by couple Gary Arvidsen and Doris Lundberg. It took its name from Lundberg’s family bakery that her father John Lundberg opened in 1951 in Seven Corners, it was run by her brother Terry at a Lake Street location until he sold it in 1992, it closed soon after. Scandia was a reboot of the Lundberg family tradition that became solely owned by Arvidsen after the couple divorced. The bakery was a neighborhood favorite but Arvidsen was chronically late with rent payments and his lease was not renewed in 2009. Scandia treats lived on at Bethel University coffee shop where Arvidsen was hired as lead baker. Sarah Herr opened 3 Tiers bakery later in 2009. First focused on cakes and fine pastries, the bakery expanded its menu for lunch and breakfast. Later in 2011 the bakery expanded to a bistro-type menu for dinner, including a fine beer and wine list. Although not yet iconic like Scandia was, it has been a hit in the neighborhood since it opened.
5019 34th Avenue South
Built in 1925, this location was originally a hardware store. It was added onto and converted to Skylane Bowling in 1948.
5025 34th Avenue South
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Originally a house sat at this address from 1919-1948 and then National Tea Company built a grocery store there in 1948. Oxendale is a union grocery store and offers a little bit of everything.
Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church
3430 East 51st Street
Originally a house sat at this address from 1924-1949. The congregation started as Morris Park Lutheran Church. In 1934 the members voted to change the name from Morris Park Lutheran Church to Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church. As the airport encroached on the original location the congregation built this church in 1950. From church’s website, “The 50's brought a period of intense growth for Faith Lutheran and by the mid 50's it was clear that an expansion was needed for the then small church building. The new building with the current sanctuary and basement space was completed and dedicated in September of 1958.”Tom Di Nanni’s Seeker’s Diary from the 1998 Star Tribune describes it as,” A welcoming, visitor-friendly congregation with a conservative theological perspective.” It belongs to the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.
5155 34th Avenue South
Built in 1926 as a candy store. Opened in 1994. A great place to stop for things like single screws, keys made, and windows repaired.
Intersection of 34th Avenue South & 51st Street East
Ian stated that a side benefit of the merger between the Minneapolis library system and the Hennepin County library system was that Hennepin has more pull to initiate change such as the inclusion of a 4-way stop so that people may safely cross the street to-and-from the library.
St. Herman’s Orthodox Church
5355 38th Ave South
Here since 1992. Originally built as Resurrection English Lutheran Church in 1957. By 1984 Resurrection Lutheran, originally a 400 member church, had its membership dwindle to 30. The neighborhood was saturated with Lutheran Churches: the 2,600 member (in 1984) Trinity Lutheran Church was 4 blocks away. Although I haven’t confirmed this- it is most probable that Resurrection merged with Trinity around 1992, they were of the same Lutheran synod.
Trinity later separated from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) due to its more conservative stance on gay rights. From Church website: St Herman's began as the first mission parish of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) in Minnesota in 1976, six years after the Moscow Patriarch had granted autocephaly (self-governance) to its parishes - the Metropolia - of North America. The parish was founded in the vision of the OCA: to become an expression of an American Orthodox Church and to make Orthodoxy accessible to the American people by serving in English.
For sixteen years, the parish had several temporary homes until 1992, when the parishioners purchased the building of their present location, a former Lutheran Church in South Minneapolis. For the first time, St Herman's had a permanent address on the corner of 38th Ave So and 54th St. The building was in need of extensive repair; but over the years, the parishioners have made significant improvements and renovations in an effort to render the building, as much as possible, into an icon of the Kingdom of Heaven. The organ was sold; an open space was established in the nave, and an iconostasis erected to create a sanctuary. In 1998, St Herman's was recognized by Archbishop Job no longer as a "mission" but as an established parish. The church is mainly a church of converts. More than half its members (including the priest, Reverend Paul Wesche) are converts.
Homes of Minnehaha
I love the diversity in home styles in the Minnehaha neighborhood. Here are a few that caught my eye. I'd love to know if you know the owners of any of these homes!
Furry Residents of Minnehaha
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I'd love to hear from you, please leave a comment. What was your favorite part of this tour? What places do you plan on visiting? Do you live and/or work in the neighborhood? If so, do you have additional information on any of our tour highlights?