Sibley Field

One of the most heavily used playgrounds in Minneapolis for a few decades was Sibley Field at 39th and Longfellow in south Minneapolis. Now, thanks to the efforts of Annie Olson who worked at Sibley Field for several years, we have found some historic photos of activities at Sibley Field.

One of my favorites is this hockey team wearing Cloggy’s sweaters.

Cloggy's 1952 hockey team at Sibley Field (Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board). ** Please see the comments by Ron Jelmo below on this photo.

In more recent times, Cloggy’s was a bar at 34th and 54th, but that’s quite a distance from Sibley Field. Not exactly a neighborhood bar. The photo provides no identification of the players or coaches. Does anyone know the story of this Cloggy’s team or Cloggy’s sponsorship of teams in general?

Sibley Field cub hockey team, 1961 (Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board)

Another group of unidentified players is this 1961 cub hockey team? Anybody know any of these kids?

Another picture that I found interesting is this one of unnamed staff or volunteers at Sibley Field. The year is also unknown, although I’m guessing early 1960s.

Sibley Park staff or volunteers, year unknown. (Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board)

I like this photo because of the “BPC” on the t-shirts. BPC was the acronym for Board of Park Commissioners, the official name of the Minneapolis park board until it was changed in 1969 to Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. The new name was intended to emphasize the significant reponsibilities of the park board for recreation programs — something that didn’t exist when the BPC was created in 1883. I presume they are standing in front of the recreation center that was built in 1924 and stood until the current rec center was built in 1971. Can anyone identify the people in this picture and whether they were BPC employees or Sibley Field volunteers? Interesting composition in front of the men’s room.

Sibley Field was one of the most active parks in Minneapolis from 1946 when it was one of only five city parks that offered year-round programming. The other four year-round parks were Folwell, Nicollet (King), Logan and Loring; North Commons was added to that group in 1956.

Women's craft class at Sibley Park in 1961. (Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board)

This series of photos (stapled together) suggests the wide range of activities offered — and groups served — at the park. Two years after this photo was taken Sibley Field became one of nine recreation centers in Minneapolis to offer programs for senior citizens, too. The seniors met one morning a week at the park. The program was modeled after a similar program that had first been tried at Loring Park in 1960.

A search of old Minneapolis Morning Tribunes reveals that the Cedar Avenue Heights neighborhood (the park was originally Cedar Avenue Heights Field) began to be developed in 1909-1910. Newspapers also reveal that petitions for a park in Cedar Avenue Heights, which the park board received in September, 1921, followed the creation of a neighborhood improvement association in March of that year (Minneapolis Morning Tribune, March 28, 1921). The Tribune reported that the neighborhood improvement association was founded primarily to promote the creation of a double track on the street car line on Cedar Avenue from Lake Street to 42nd Street and an extension of the line south of 42nd. (Park commissioners also appeared at the City Council to advocate extending the Cedar Avenue car line to serve the new bath house at Lake Nokomis.) The paper also speculated that day that the association would also support the construction of a new Nokomis High School, which was eventually named Roosevelt High School.

(One of the best services provided by Hennepin County Library for those interested in local history is access to ProQuest Newsstand at hclib.org, which allows one to search issues of the Minneapolis Tribune 1867-1922. To access the database you need only a library card.)

The impetus for the formation of the Cedar Heights Improvement Association in March, 1921 was almost certainly the opening of the new Miles Standish school in January of that year. The school quickly became the center of the community. The Tribune reported that 900 people attended the first meeting of the neighborhood improvement association at the school.

The new Miles Standish School facing what is now Standish Avenue at 40th Street in 1922. The school was significantly enlarged in 1923, just two years after it was built. (Minneapolis Public Schools)

(For more photos of Standish and many other schools, visit the history pages of the Minneapolis Public Schools.)

Cedar Avenue Heights Field was not the first playing field in the neighborhood. Tribune articles about amateur baseball in 1909 refer to a baseball field — the home field of the Prince Realty team — at Cedar and 42nd Street. I’ve never seen a picture of that field. If you have, let me know where I can find one.

David C. Smith,  minneapolisparkhistory[at]q.com

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14 comments so far

  1. Ron Jelmo on

    The Cloggy’s First row left to right Doug Larson, Gary Olin, Bobby Carlson,
    Jerry Gangeloff, ?, David Setterholm, Bart Larson.
    Second row Dick Koob, Ron Jelmo, ?, Coach Val Ness,
    Jim Hastings, and Jerry Shetler.

    • David C. Smith on

      That’s excellent, Ron. Thanks. Do you still see any of those former teammates? Any others still in Minneapolis? We’d love to hear more stories.

  2. Ron Jelmo on

    Your picture of the volunteers was somewhere around 1955.
    Left to right, Wayne Anderson, Floyd Folvin, ?, Erling Urdahl and ?.
    The identified all were 1955 Roosevelt grads.

    • David C. Smith on

      That’s marvelous, Ron. Thanks so much. Can anyone help out with the other two?

  3. Douglas Gilbert on

    The young man to the far right in back in the “1961 Sibley Cubs” photo wearing the choppers is my late uncle Dale W. ‘Skip’ Gilbert. Skip coached a lot and later became a Mpls. Park Board Police Officer. He then went on to be a Mpls. Park Board Commisioner from 1969 until his death in 1996. My family lived on the 4100 block of Longfellow Ave. S. I have fond memories of sliding down the hill at Sibley in the winter time with my brother and friends. We would slide down the sidewalk from the corner of 40th St. E. and 20th Ave. S.

    • David C. Smith on

      Thanks so much for that info, Douglas. Your uncle was one of the heroes of Minneapolis parks for his long commitment to the system and his leadership and passion. It’s amazing that one random hockey team picture includes such an influential person in park history. I had no idea. Do you know if he ever wrote anything about his time on the park board, or saved any photos?

      That was a pretty good sledding hill for the city.

  4. [...] to building neighborhood recreation parks. 1923 was a very busy year as the park board developed Sibley Field, Chicago Avenue (Phelps) Field and Nicollet (MLK) Field in south Minneapolis, Folwell Field and [...]

  5. Annie Olson on

    Ron – Thank you so much for painting a picture of times at Sibley in the 1950s. It is neat to hear stories from all eras. Sibley is a very important place in the lives of many – mine and my family’s especially. Thanks again!

  6. Ron Jelmo on

    That Cloggy hockey team was our traveling team from the southside. Our
    coach was Val Ness, whom taught us the game as well as anyone in the
    game. Most of us skated at Sibley Park, but our practices were at Keewayden Park. We played most of our games at the old Minneapolis
    Arena on Dupont. Most of us went on to play in high school,either Roosevelt or South High. That picture was taken after a game at Riverside
    Park around 1950. I do remember most of the names, but not all.

    • David C. Smith on

      Thanks, Ron. Great information. We’d love to hear more stories about the team if you have time. Do you have any other pictures? Did you participate in other activities at Sibley or Keewaydin?

      David C. Smith

      • Ron Jelmo on

        My parents home was on 38th and Longfellow, so I with many others spent most of our time there. I played on some great teams and with some great kids at Sibley. We also had one of the best baseball coaches in the state in Don Jarvis. The staff at Sibley was always for the best of the park system. We won a lot of City Championships in hockey and baseball for Sibley, and this carried on for years. When I first got involved at the Park the guy in charge was Dick Jorgenson; followed by many others – Don Bailey, Ron Hurst, Bob Nordstrom and many others. At Roosevelt I would come home from practice at Sibley with my gear on and as soon as possible be back on the rink till dark. On weekends it would even keep going when the lights went out because we had a street light near the middle of the rink. Our parents never worried about us back in those days because they always knew where we were. The two park employees that took care of the ice were great. In time they were given free passes to the Minneapolis Arena to watch Roosevelt play. We had the best outdoor ice in the city thanks to them. As far as other activities we had plenty all the time. We had dances every Thursday night. The girls danced and most of the boys stood on the side lines. In the off season it was Ping Pong in the basement of Sibley. You could play until you got beat and that would end your night. Lots of competition in every thing we did back then. I can give you the names of everyone in the hockey picture but two if you want.

      • David C. Smith on

        Thanks for the details, Ron. Sounds like a pretty good place to grow up. It’s great that you remember the names of the people who ran the park. I’d be happy to add the names to the hockey team photo, too.

      • Eddie Dahlien on

        Ron-

        I currently live in the 3800 block of Longfellow, near the north end. I’ve been looking for some old pictures of the block in the hopes of trying to see my house. If you have any to share, please let me know- you’d make me very happy!

  7. [...] Like Sibley Field in south Minneapolis, it was named for Henry Hastings Sibley, but the triangle was named first. Apparently having a little street triangle named for Sibley did not sufficiently honor Minnesota’s first governor, so the larger neighborhood park was named for him too — three years later. (The larger park had previously been referred to as Cedar Avenue Heights Park. See more here.) [...]


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