Keewaydin Park Before and After — 1928

Like a lot of other people I’m curious to see the new look of Keewaydin Park and School. Construction is underway. It has to be an improvement over what was there a few years ago.

Keewaydin Park before — the first time c. 1928. (Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board)

Okay, it was a long time ago. In 1928-29 the park board hauled in 38,600 cubic yards of fill to bring the playing fields up to grade on one side. Clearly the neighbors tried to help by discarding their refuse there, too. The crate says “Morell’s Pride Hams and Bacon.” But that wasn’t enough; the fill kept settling. The park board continued to fill the former swamp in 1930-31. By 1932 the field had been filled sufficiently to be regraded and have tennis courts and a wading pool finished. By 1934 the grounds looked much nicer.

Keewaydin School and surrounding park in 1934. (Norton and Peel, Minnesota Historical Society)

Keewaydin was one of the early collaborative projects between the park and school boards. In the park board’s 1929 annual report it noted that the park had one of the best-equipped shelters for skating and hockey rinks due to the “well-appointed” basement rooms of the school. The doors on the lower level in this photo must have been the entrance to those rooms.

Anybody remember skating there or going to school there when it was new? Does anybody want to take a photo of present construction and email it to me? I forgot to zip over and take one Sunday when I was at Longfellow House.

David C. Smith

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8 comments so far

  1. […] of Keewaydin Park, especially kids’ games and […]

  2. Tom Christensen on

    I live a half a block north of Keewaydin on 30th from 1948 to 1962. Keewaydin was my hang out year around. In the winter what was known as the “hollow” on the east side of the building was flooded to make a huge skating rink. Some days there were several hundred skaters, of all ages, out there. On the south side of the skating rink was a hockey rink. There was a wooden walkway that led from the skating rink to a room in the lower level of the school, which was referred to as the warming house. Pull Away, tag on ice, was played for hours on end on the skating rink. Those who had been tagged were called “it”. Those who were “it” were in the center of the rink and everybody else tried to skate from one side of the rink to other without getting tagged. It was great exercise and it forced you to learn how to evade those who were “it”, which improved your skating ability. In the fall the weeds on the north slope of the hollow were about 2-3 feet tall. When they dried out we pushed the weeds over to lay flat. A cardboard box was all that was need to slide down the hill on top of the flattened weeds. In the summer there was a playground supervisor who suggested things for the kids to play and he had some equipment to use. Can Can was a game that must have only been played at Keewaydin because I have not heard of it anywhere else. It had some similarities to cricket. It was played with 4 players and required 4 pins, a softball, and two bats. A set of two pins, similar to bowling pins, were set up about 10 yards apart with a small indention, called a hole, in front of the pins. Two player had bats. Each person with a bat stood in front of the pins. Their job was to keep the pins from being knocked over. At each end, behind the pins, were the other two players. These two players would throw a softball at the pins on the other end trying to knock over the pins. If the ball hit a pin and the batters bat was out of the hole it was called one or two outs depending on how many pins were knocked over. If the batter hit the ball being thrown at the pins the two with the bats would run from one end to the other scoring one point each time they touched the hole at the other end. When there were three outs the players would change positions. Batters would become throwers. The game was played until the agreed upon score was reached. Some games took over an hours to play.

    • David C. Smith on

      Thanks, Tom. Great info. Sounds like it was a good place to be a kid.

  3. rog anderson on

    I didn’t go to school there but my wife’s family did in the 40″s. However In the early 50’s I did play hockey there and also baseball over several years.

    • David C. Smith on

      Thanks, Rog. Were the hockey and baseball teams run by the park board? Where did you go to school?

      • roger anderson on

        I was going to Nokomis Jr. We used to walk through the park from the Southwest to the Northeast everyday going to school.
        The baseball team was run by the mpls parkboard but the hockey I played there at first were just pickup games for me. However in 10th grade the Keewaydin hockey rink was the home rink for the Roosevelt High School Sophmore team and practice and games were played there. Even in the next couple of years the varsity team did practice there once in a while.

      • David C. Smith on

        Thanks, Roger. I had no idea that Keewaydin was so closely linked to Roosevelt teams. I wonder if young hockey players realize that it was once an outdoor game!

      • Roger Anderson on

        Yes it was an outdoor game, All of the Sophmore ganes were held at Keewaydin. Even a couple of varsity practices were held there in my Senior year. Sibley was our home ice and the only indoor games were actual league games. All practices and scrimmages were held out doors. We scrimmaged Edina at Sibley and then at there home ice a rink behind the school. We also played a couple of St Paul schools at the outdoor rinks. How we got to games and practices was on us even for baseball no matter where the game was it was up to us to get there. Only Football had buses I think.


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