Minneapolis Park Planning: Theodore Wirth as Landscape Architect. Catalog of Minneapolis Park Plans, Volume I, 1906-1915

In Theodore Wirth’s 30 years as Minneapolis’s superintendent of parks (1906-1935), he produced annual reports that contained 328 maps, plans or designs for parks and park structures. Most of the plans were accompanied by some explanatory text, which provides a rich record of park board activity and Theodore Wirth’s priorities.

Theodore Wirth, Superintendent of Parks, 1906-1935 (Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board)

The annual reports include plans for recreation shelters, bridges, parkways, parks, playgrounds, gardens, golf courses, and more. Nearly every Minneapolis park is represented in some form, from if-cost-were-no-object conceptual designs for new parks to the “rearrangement” of existing parks. Many of the plans were never implemented due to cost or other objections; others were considerably modified after input from commissioners and the public.

In many cases over the years, Wirth referred in his written narratives to plans published in prior years that he hoped the board would implement. Sometimes it did, often it didn’t. One of the drawbacks to implementing Wirth’s plans was the method of financing park acquisitions and improvements during much of his tenure as superintendent. The costs of both were often assessed on “benefitted” property, along with real estate tax bills. In other words, the people who lived near a park and received the “benefit” of it — both in enjoyment and increased property values — had to pay the cost, usually through assessments spread over ten years. To be able to assess those costs, however, a majority of property owners had to agree to the assessment, and in many neighborhoods property owners refused to agree until plans were modified considerably to reduce costs.

Phelps Wyman’s plan for what is now Thomas Lowry Park from the 1922 annual report is one of the only colored plans and one of the only plans that wasn’t produced by the park board staff.

Many of the annual report drawings contain a “Designed by” tag, but many do not have any attribution. For those that don’t, it is sometimes unclear who the actual designer was. In many cases it would have been Wirth, but in some cases — the golf courses are notable examples — others would have been responsible for the layouts even though they weren’t credited. William Clark, for instance, is known to have designed the first Minneapolis golf courses, Wirth said so, but only Wirth’s name appears on these plans, not Clark’s.

Also, because these plans were created while Wirth was superintendent does not mean that the idea for each project originated with Wirth. Some of the demands for the parks featured here pre-dated Wirth’s arrival in Minneapolis by decades. Other plans were largely his creation. In most cases, however, Wirth was responsible for implementing those plans.

The majority of the drawings were reproduced on a thin, tissue-like paper that could be folded small enough to be glued into the annual reports. The intent was to publish plans large enough to be readable, but not too bulky.  The paper is fragile and easily torn when unfolding; I doubt that many of the plans survive. Even where efforts have been made to preserve and digitize the annual reports, such as by Hathitrust and Google Books, the plans on the translucent sheets are not reproduced. In many cases it would require a large-format scanner to digitize them from the annual reports. Originals do not exist for most of these plans, because they were not working plans.

This plan for the original Longfellow Field in 1912 was typical of the plans in the annual reports,

Catalog of Minneapolis Park Plans

I’ve been threatening for some time to do something that probably only the planners at the Minneapolis park board and a few others will appreciate. I’m publishing a complete list of the park plans that appeared in the annual reports of the park board. I’m periodically asked when a certain park was discussed, acquired or planned and I search my list of annual report plans quickly to provide some direction. I hope that by publishing this catalog of park plans I can save other researchers a great deal of time.

Unfortunately I do not have copies or scans of the plans themselves. Neither does the park board. You’ll have to go to the Central Library in downtown Minneapolis to view the original annual reports and see these plans. The Gale Library at the Minnesota Historical Society also has copies of the park board’s annual reports for many years.

I’ve started this catalog with the 1906 annual report, the first year that Theodore Wirth was responsible for producing the report, his first year as superintendent of Minneapolis parks. (Several of H.W.S. Cleveland’s original park designs were reproduced in earlier annual reports. I’ll provide a list of those in the very near future. You may still view the very large originals of many of Cleveland’s plans, by appointment, at the Hennepin History Museum. It’s worth a visit!)

The annual reports of the park board were divided into several parts: a report by the president of the park board, reports by the superintendent and attorney, financial reports, and an inventory of park properties. Most of the plans described here were a part of the superintendent’s report. For that reason, I’ve cited the date on Wirth’s reports rather than the date of the president’s report, which at times differed.

I will post the catalog of plans, maps and drawings in three “volumes” due to the size of the file — more than 9,000 words in total.

The titles of the plans are verbatim as they appear on plans. I’ve also copied dates, names and titles as they appear, but have added some punctuation to make them easier to read. Parenthetical comments identify current park names or highlight important plan elements. /s/ indicates a signature.

1906 Superintendent’s Report
Dated: January 1, 1907

  1. Wilson Park: Plan for improvement of Wilson Park (the park no longer exists) (p. 24), May 1906, by /s/ Theodore Wirth, Sup’t.
  2. General Plan for Improvements at Lake Harriet & Lyndale Park (includes proposed Harriet Point near 44th Street/Beard Plaisance) (fold out, p. 28a), January 1st, 1907, by /s/ Theodore Wirth, Superintendent
  3. Suggestive Plan for Proposed Speedway, Location of Erie Avenue from Emerson Av. to Superior Av. R.R. Bridge, Land to Be Acquired & General Treatment (Parade) (p. 34), Jan. 1907, by /s/ Theodore Wirth, Sup’t
  4. Plan Showing Proposed Arrangement of Walks and Playgrounds Surrounding Loring Pavilion, Loring Park (p. 38), Jan’y 1, 1907, by /s/ Theodore Wirth, Supt.
  5. Plan for the General Improvement of Minnehaha Avenue & Park from 48th St. to 52nd St. Showing Rearrangement of Trolley and Railroad Tracks (includes cross-sections and profile) (fold out, p. 40a), Jan. 1, 1907, by /s/ Theodore Wirth, Sup’t.
  6. Suggested Extension of Glenwood Park (Theodore Wirth Park) (West, south and east of existing park at the time, which surrounded Birch Pond) (p. 44), Jan. 1907, /s/ Theodore Wirth, Sup’t.
  7. Suggested Widening of Minnehaha Parkway (fold out, p. 48a), Jan. 1097, /s/ Theodore Wirth, Sup’t.
  8. Suggestive Plan for the Enlargement and Improvement of the Lyndale Farmstead (includes location of Superintendent’s Residence and includes pond in low land near King’s Highway) (p. 51), Jan. 1, 1907, by /s/ Theodore Wirth, Superintendent
  9. Proposed Show House, Lyndale Farmstead, West Elevation Facing King’s Highway (p. 52), no attribution
  10. Map of Minneapolis 1907 (fold out, inside back cover), Copyright 1906, Fred W. Kirk. Park properties colored in green.

1907 Superintendent’s Report
Dated: January 18, 1908

  1. Suggestive Plan for a Navigable Waterway Between Lake of the Isles and Lake Calhoun (includes a lagoon and a harbor) (fold out, p.42a), Jan.1, 1908, Designed by /s/ Theodore Wirth, Sup’t of Parks
  2. General Plan for the Improvement of Powderhorn Park (includes bridge over narrow point between north and south arms of lake; north was later filled). (fold out, p. 44a), Jan. 1st, 1908, Designed by /s/ Theodore Wirth, Sup’t. of Parks
  3. Perspective Sketch for Powderhorn Park Shelter (p. 46), Undated, no attribution, likely by architect.
  4. Ground Plan for Powderhorn Park Shelter (p. 47), January 1st 1908, By /s/ Theodore Wirth, Superintendent
  5. Plan for Rearrangement of Elliot Park  Relocating Walks in the Direction People Wish to Go (p. 49), Jan. 1st, 1908, Designed by /s/ Theodore Wirth, Sup’t of Parks
  6. Plan for the Improvement of Jackson Square (fold out, p. 50a), Jan. 1st, 1908, Designed by /s/ Theodore Wirth, Sup’t. of Parks
  7. Plan for Bryant Square (p.51), Jan. 1st, 1908, by /s/ Theodore Wirth, Superintendent
  8. Suggestive Plan for the Improvement of North Commons as Recreation and Playgrounds (fold out, p. 52a), Jan. 1st 1908, By /s/ Theodore Wirth Superintendent
  9. Preliminary Plan for the Improvement of the Extension of Lake of the Isles Park from Franklin Avenue to Kenwood Heights, Official Name Adopted December 23rd, 1907, Kenwood Park (includes concourse, promenade and cross-section) (fold out, p. 52a ), December 15th, 1907, Designed by /s/ Theodore Wirth, Superintendent
  10. Prospective Sketch Kenwood Heights Concourse (p.53) Undated and unattributed
  11. Suggestive Plan for a Residential Park Covering Two City Blocks (p. 54), undated, by /s/ Theodore Wirth
  12. Site Selected for Oil Storage Tanks (Future Park Siding) (p. 55), Jan. 1908, /s/ Theodore Wirth, Supt of Parks
  13. Map Showing Arrangement of Tanks and Method of Unloading (Park Siding) (p. 57), Jan. 1st, 1908, /s/ Theodore Wirth, Supt of Parks
  14. Explanatory Map of City of Minneapolis, Minn. Showing the Existing and Contemplated Park and Parkway System with Suggestions for Future Extensions and Connections (fold out, p. 58a), Jan. 1st 1908, by /s/ Theodore Wirth, Superintendent

1908 Superintendent’s Report
Dated: January 16, 1909

  1. Map of Lake of the Isles – Showing Improvements, Change of Shore Lines and Boulevard During 1908 (fold out, p. 20a), /s/ Theodore Wirth, Superintendent, W. E. Stoopes, C.E.
  2. Plan “C” for the Improvement of Lake Street from Calhoun Boulevard to Dean Boulevard (fold out, p. 56a), /s/ Theodore Wirth, Supt of Parks, W. E. Stoopes, C.E. Del.
  3. Design for Proposed Bridge (Over lake connection from Isles to Calhoun) (p. 58), attribution illegible
  4. Plan for a New Playground near the New Pavilion at Powderhorn Lake Park (p. 62), Jan’y 1st, 1909, Designed by /s/ Theodore Wirth, Supt of Parks
  5. Plan for the Improvement of St. Anthony Heights (Tower Hill) (fold out, p. 64a) Jan. 1st, 1909, Designed by /s/ Theodore Wirth, Supt of Parks, A.C. Godward, Del.
  6. Suggestive Plan for the Transformation of Logan Park into a General Recreation Ground (makes a wading pool of fountain) (fold out, p. 66a), Jan’y 1st, 1909, Designed by /s/ Theodore Wirth, Supt. of Parks, A. C. Godward, Eng. Delineator
  7. General Plan for the Improvement of Maple Hill Cemetery (Beltrami Park) (fold out, p. 68a), Jany 1st, 1909, Designed by /s/ Theodore Wirth, Supt of Parks, A. C. Godward, Del
  8. Proposed Arrangement of the Athletic Field at The Parade (Includes grandstand) (p. 71), Jan’1 1st 1909, Designed by /s/ Theodore Wirth, Supt of Parks

1909 Superintendent’s Report
Dated: January 15, 1910

  1. Glenwood Park and the Lake District (p. 23, lines indicate course of pre-glacial river, also provides distances from City Hall), undated, unattributed
  2. Minnehaha Park and Minnesota Soldiers’ Home (p. 40a), “This cut is loaned by courtesy of Twin City Rapid Transit Co.” The M.N. Works, Buffalo, N.Y.
  3. General Plan for the Improvement of Camden Park (fold out, p. 48a), Jan’y 1st, 1910, Designed by /s/ Theodore Wirth, Sup’t of Parks, A.C. Godward, Eng’r & Del.
  4. North Commons Shelter: West Elevation, North and South Elevation, 1st Floor Plan, Basement Plan (p. 50-53), Long Lamoreaux & Long Architects
  5. Plan Showing the Improvements at Glen Gale Park and Irving Triangle (fold out, p. 50a), January 1910, /s/ Theodore Wirth, Supt. of Parks, A.C. Godward, Eng’r
  6. Revised Plan for the Improvement of  North Commons (fold out, p. 54a), January 1910, Designed by /s/ Theodore Wirth, Sup’t of Parks, A.C. Godward, Eng’r Del
  7. Diagram of Wells Drilled During 1909 (fold out, 56a), January 1, 1910, /s/ Theodore Wirth, Sup’t of Parks, A.C.G.
  8. Plan No. 2 and Plan No. 3 Proposed Arrangement of the Athletic Field at The Parade (p. 70-71, June 1909, Designed by /s/ A. C. Godward, /s/ Theodore Wirth, Sup’t of Parks
  9. Bridge No. 3 Lake of the Isles. Second Prize design by Wm. Pierce Cowles and Cecil Bayless Chapman, of Minneapolis (p. 79)
  10. Map Showing Location of Proposed Bridges to Be Built (over canals between Lake of the Isles and Calhoun and Cedar) (p. 80), June 1909, /s/ Theodore Wirth, Sup’t of Parks
  11. Bridge No. 4. Second Prize design by Wm. Pierce Cowles and Cecil Bayless Chapman, of Minneapolis (p. 83)
  12. General Plan for Cedar Lake Boulevard Showing Connection with Lake of the Isles and Dean Boulevard (shows shore line after the lake drops five feet) (fold out, p. 86a), January 1910, /s/ Theodore Wirth Supt of Parks, W.E. Stoopes, Eng’r & Del.
  13. General Plan for the Improvement of Elliot Park (Plan A includes sunken flower garden, Plan B has playground instead) (fold out, p. 90a & 92a), January 1910, Designed by /s/ Theodore Wirth Sup’t of Parks, A.C. Godward, Eng’r & Del.
  14. Suggestive Plan for a Main Parkway Entrance and a Cathedral Concourse (p. 93), Jan’y 10th 1909, Designed by /s/ Theodore Wirth, Sup’t of Parks, A.C. Godward, Del.
  15. Proposed Public Comfort Station at the Gateway Park (p. 95) Cecil Bayless Chapman Architect
  16. Suggestive Plan for The Gateway, January 1st, 1910, Designed by /s/ Theodore Wirth, Supt of Parks, A.C. Godward, Del.
  17. Topographic Sketch Showing Possible Lake Connections (Lake Calhoun to Lake Harriet) (p. 100), January 1910, /s/ Theodore Wirth, Supt of parks, A.C. Godward Eng’r
  18. Proposed Rearrangement of Park Boulevard (William Berry Parkway) (fold out, p. 100a), January 1910, Designed by /s/ Theodore Wirth, Supt of Parks, A.C. Godward Eng’r
  19. Suggestive Arrangement of Stinson Boulevard (p. 103), January 1910, Designed by /s/ Theodore Wirth, Supt of Parks, A.C. Godward Eng’r
  20. Map of West River Bank Showing Desired Acquisition between Franklin and Washington Avenues (p. 104a), Theo. Wirth, Supt., W.E. Stoopes, Eng.

1910 Superintendent’s Report
Dated: January 15, 1911

  1. Maps comparing parks in 1883, 1888, 1905 and 1910 with proposed extensions (Fold out, p. 16a) 1910 map “Prepared by A. C. Godward, C.E.”
  2. Plan of Proposed Improvement in the Neighborhood of the Gateway Park and City Hall by the Minneapolis Civic Commission (p. 27)
  3. Bridge No. 2 Lake Connections Built by the C.M. & St. P. Ry. (fold out, pl 48a), January 1911, Designed by Wm. Pierce Cowles, Con’l Eng’r, /s/ Theodore Wirth, Supt of Parks
  4. Columbia Park Plan Showing New North Boundary Line after the Exchange with the Minneapolis St. Paul & Sault St. Marie Ry. (fold out, p. 68a), January 1910, by /s/ A. C. Godward, Eng., I. Kvitrud, Del., /s/ Theodore Wirth Supt of Parks
  5. General Plan Showing the Improvements at Lake of the Isles Park (fold out, p. 102a), January 1911, As Designed by /s/ Theodore Wirth, Sup’t of Parks, I. Kvitrud, Del.
  6. Plan for the Rearrangement of Dean Boulevard as a Connecting Link between Lake of the Isles, Cedar Lake and Calhoun Boulevards (fold out, p. 104a), January 1911, Designed by /s/ Theodore Wirth, Supt of Parks, A.C. Godward, C.E. Del.
  7. Preliminary Plan for the Improvement of Lake Calhoun (includes lagoon in NW corner as site of private or club boat house) (p.110a,  fold out) January 1911, Designed by /s/ Theodore Wirth, Supt of Parks, A.C. Godward C. Engr.
  8. Plan of Proposed Lake Calhoun Bathhouse (fold out, p. 112a), undated, Cecil Bayless Chapman Arch’t
  9. South Elevation Proposed Bath House at Lake Calhoun (fold out, p. 112b), Cecil Bayless Chapman, Del., Dec. 16, ‘10
  10. Suggestive Plan for the Improvement of Lake Nokomis as a Reservoir for Maintaining Minnehaha Falls (includes elevation of proposed channel) (fold out, p. 116a), January 1911, by /s/ A. C. Godward, Engineer, /s/ Theodore Wirth, Sup’t of Parks
  11. Plan for the Rearrangement of Walks and Plantings at Murphy Square (p.120a), January 1911, Designed by /s/Theodore Wirth, Supt of Parks, A.C. Godward, Engineer
  12. Plan for the Improvement of Stevens Square (fold out, p. 120b), January 1911, Designed by /s/ Theodore Wirth, Supt of Parks, A.C. Godward, C.E. Del.
  13. Farwell Park, Sketch Plan for Arrangement of Ground (p. 122a) Morrell & Nichols, Landscape Arch’ts, D. C. Bell Invt Co., Home Wood Add’n

1911 Superintendent’s Report
Dated: January 20, 1912

  1. Map of Minneapolis Park System and Proposed Extensions 1912 (p. 11), Prepared by A.C. Godward, C.E.
  2. Suggested Extension of 8th Avenue North and Vacation of 6th Avenue North through Glenwood Park (p. 108a; fold out), Jan’y 1912, /s/ Theodore Wirth, Supt of Parks, A.C. Godward, C.E.
  3. Plan for the Improvement of Loring Park (p. 110a, fold out), January 1912, Designed by /s/ Theodore Wirth Supt of Parks, A.C. Godward, C.E. Delineator
  4. General Plan for the Improvement of The Parade Providing for a Modern Athletic Field and a Main Parkway Entrance and Suggesting the Location of a Coliseum or Auditorium and a Treatment of the Grounds in the Vicinity of Public Buildings (p. 114a, fold out), January 1912, Designed by /s/ Theodore Wirth, Sup’t of Parks, Prepared by A.C. Godward C.E.
  5. Plan for the Rearrangement of Walks and Plantings at Van Cleve Park (p. 118a, fold out), January 1912, Designed by /s/ Theodore Wirth, A.C. Godward, Del.
  6. Plan of Proposed Improvements at Franklin Steele Square (p. 120a, fold out), Designed by /s/ Theodore Wirth, Supt of Parks, A. C. Godward, Del.
  7. Plan Showing the Proposed Arrangement and Equipment of Longfellow Field (p. 122a, fold out) (This is the first Longfellow Field), January 1912, /s/ Theodore Wirth, Supt of Parks, A. C. Godward, C.E. Delin.
  8. Proposed Public Comfort Station at the Gateway Park, (p. 134) Cecil Bayless Chapman, Architect  (Same as 1909, p. 95)

1912 Superintendent’s Report
Dated: January 18, 1913

  1. Map of Minneapolis Park System as Recommended by Prof. H. W. S. Cleveland, 1883 (p. 26)
  2. Map of Minneapolis Park System, January 1913 (p. 27)
  3. Park System City of Minneapolis 1913 (p. 34a, fold out), Theo. Wirth, Supt., A.C. Godward, Eng’r, Drawn by Chas. E. Doell
  4. Floor Plan Calhoun Bath House (p. 38) unattributed
  5. Suggestive Sketch for a Parkway between Calhoun Lagoon and Hennepin Avenue (The Mall) (p. 66a, fold out), Sept. 16, 1911, /s/ Theodore Wirth, Supt of Parks, /s/ A. C. Godward Engineer, I. Kvitrud, Del.
  6. General Plan for the Improvement of Columbia Park (p. 96a, fold out) January, 1913, Designed by /s/ Theodore Wirth, Supt of Parks, Prepared by A.C. Godward, C.E.
  7. Glenwood – Camden Parkway, Humboldt Avenue to Lyndale Avenue (p. 98a, fold out), January, 1913, Designed by /s/ Theodore Wirth, Supt of Parks, Prepared by A.C. Godward, C.E.
  8. Lake Harriet, Suggestive Plan for the Widening of the West Shore Boulevard and the Location of a Boat House for the Storage of Private Canoes (p. 102a, fold out), January, 1913, Designed by /s/ Theodore Wirth, Supt of Parks, Prepared by A.C. Godward, C.E. Also Proposed Boat House at Lake Harriett Floor Plan /s/ Theodore Wirth, Supt of Parks
  9. Proposed Show House at Lyndale Farmstead West Elevation (p.103), January, 1913 /s/ Theodore Wirth Supt of Parks, Designed by Lord & Burnham Co., Chicago, Ill. (Different from plan for show house in 1906, p. 53)
  10. General Plan for the Improvement of Lake Nokomis (p. 106a, fold out), January, 1913, Designed by /s/ Theodore Wirth, Supt of Parks, Prepared by A.C. Godward, C.E.
  11. Plan Showing the Proposed Arrangement and Equipment of Stewart Field (p. 106b, fold out), January 1913 by /s/ A.C. Godward, Engr /s/ Theodore Wirth, Sup’t., C.E.D. (for Charles E. Doell) lower right corner
  12. Plan Showing the Proposed Arrangement and Equipment of Sumner Field (p. 108a, fold out) January 1913 by /s/ A.C. Godward, Engr /s/ Theodore Wirth, Sup’t., C.E.D. (for Charles E. Doell) lower right corner

1913 Superintendent’s Report
Dated: January 17, 1914

  1. Proposed Changes at Lake Harriet Pavilion (p. 33), January 1914 /s/ Theodore Wirth, Supt of Parks
  2. Improvement Plan of Logan Park showing Rearrangement of Playground (p. 40a, fold out), January 1914 /s/ Theodore Wirth Supt. of Parks
  3. St. Anthony Boulevard Lands Acquired between Central Ave. and Division St. (p. 51), January 1914 /s/ Theodore Wirth Supt. of Parks
  4. Suggested Separation of Boulevard and Traffic Road at Franklin Avenue (Kenwood Park) (p.88), January 1914 /s/ Theodore Wirth Supt. of Parks
  5. Plan of Lyndale Farmstead Showing Proposed Buildings and Roads (p.88a, fold out) January 1914 /s/ Theodore Wirth Supt. of Parks
  6. Plan for the Improvement of Riverside Park Extension (includes amphitheater) (p. 90a, fold out), January 1914, Designed by /s/ Theodore Wirth Supt. of Parks
  7. Ground Plan of Sheep Barns, Glenwood Park (Theodore Wirth Park) (p. 93) January 1914 Theodore Wirth, Supt. of Parks
  8. General Plan for the Improvement of Glenwood Park (Theodore Wirth Park, includes Brownie Lake or “Hillside Harbor”) (p. 94a, fold out) January 1914, Designed by /s/ Theodore Wirth, Supt of Parks, Prepared by A.C. Godward, Engineer
  9. The Gateway, Proposed Ornamentation of Grounds (p. 96a, fold out) January 1914 /s/ Theodore Wirth, Supt. of Parks
  10. Proposed Connection between Camden Park and Columbia Park (St. Anthony Parkway) (p.97) January 1914 /s/ Theodore Wirth, Supt
  11. Suggested Route between St. Anthony Boulevard and River Road East (Missing Link) (p. 98), January 1914 /s/ Theodore Wirth, Supt
  12. Plan Showing the Proposed Arrangement and Equipment of Prospect Field (Luxton Park) (p. 100a, fold out) January, 1914, By /s/ A.C. Godward, Engr, /s/ Theodore Wirth Supt of Parks

1914 Superintendent’s Report
Dated: January 16, 1915

  1. Suggestive Plan for the Acquisition and Improvement of Rice Lake and Minnehaha Creek (p. 24a, fold out) January 1915, /s/ Theodore Wirth, Supt. of Parks /s/ A. C. Godward, Engr.
  2. General Suggestive Plan for the Improvement of Dorilus Morrison Park and Washburn Fair Oaks in Connection with the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (p. 36a, fold out), April 18, 1914, /s/ Theodore Wirth, Sup’t of Parks
  3. Revised Plan for the Improvement of Lake Nokomis Northerly Portion (p. 50a, fold out), January 1915, /s/ Theodore Wirth, Supt, A.C. Godward Eng
  4. Plan of Lakes Showing Launch Routes and Landings (p. 105), January 1915, /s/ Theodore Wirth, Supt.
  5. Plan for the Improvement of Audubon Park (p. 106a, fold out) January 1915, Designed by /s/ Theodore Wirth, Sup’t.
  6. Revised Plan for the Improvement of Bryant Square (p. 108a, fold out), January 1915, /s/ Theodore Wirth, Supt, /s/ A.C. Godward, Engr
  7. Preliminary Ground Floor Plan for the Lake Nokomis Bath-House (p.110) January 1915, /s/ Theodore Wirth, Sup’t.
  8. Plan for the Rearrangement of Dean Boulevard as a Connecting Link between Lake of the Isles, Cedar Lake and Calhoun Boulevards (p. 110a, fold out), April 1914, /s/ Theodore Wirth, Supt., A.C. Godward, Engr.
  9. Powderhorn Lake Park, Plan for the Improvement of the South Section (p. 112a, fold out) January 1915, Designed by /s/ Theodore Wirth Sup’t.
  10. Armory Garden: Proposed Rearrangement (p. 113) January 1915 /s/ Theodore Wirth Supt.
  11. City of Minneapolis: Present and Proposed Playground Facilities (p. 114a, fold out), /s/ F. C. Berry, Supervisor of Pl’gr’d, /s/ Theodore Wirth, Supt of Parks

1915 Superintendent’s Report
Dated: January 15, 1916

  1. Proposed Rearrangement of Bottineau Field (p. 34a, fold out), January 1916 /s/ Theodore Wirth Supt, /s/ A.C. Godward Engr
  2. Plan for the Connection of Cedar Lake and Brownie Lake (Elevation and vicinity plans) (p. 36a, fold out), January 1916 /s/ Theodore Wirth, Supt, /s/ A.C. Godward, Engr
  3. General Plan for the Improvement of Farview Park (p. 42a, fold out), January 1916, Designed by /s/ Theodore Wirth, Sup’t.
  4. Suggested Concourse at Lake Harriet Boulevard and Minnehaha Parkway (p. 56a, fold out) January 1916, Designed by /s/ Theodore Wirth
  5. Proposed Arrangement of Marshall Terrace, Plan No. 1 (p.60a, fold out), March 15, 1915, /s/ Theodore Wirth, Sup’t
  6. Proposed Arrangement of Marshall Terrace, Plan No. 2 (p.62a, fold out), March 15, 1915, /s/ Theodore Wirth, Sup’t
  7. General Plan for the Improvement of Powderhorn Lake Park (p. 68a, fold out), January 1916, Designed by /s/ Theodore Wirth, Sup’t. of Parks
  8. River Road West Proposed Change in Alignment at East 44th Street (p. 72), January 1916, Theo. Wirth, Supt. A.C. Godward, Engr
  9. River Road West Proposed Arrangement at East 34th Street (p. 74), January 1916, Theo. Wirth, Supt. A.C. Godward, Engr
  10. Map of Minneapolis Park System, January 1916 (p. 108a, fold out), January 1916, Theo. Wirth, Supt. A.C. Godward, Engr
  11. Proposed Location and Arrangement of the Asphalt Plant and Storage Yard at Dean Boulevard (Park Siding Park) (p. 110a, fold out), January 1916, /s/ Theodore Wirth, Supt. /s/ A.C. Godward, Engr
  12. Preliminary Plan for a Driving and Riding Park at Bryn Mawr Meadows (includes polo field) (p. 112a, fold out), January 1916, Designed by /s/ Theodore Wirth, Supt of Parks

If you have questions or need clarification on anything in this index, please send me a note. I’ll post the rest of the Index to Minneapolis Park Plans soon. After the publication of the final installment of this index, I’ll post a “Who’s Who” to identify all the people whose names are included in these entries.

David C. Smith

© David C. Smith

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12 comments so far

  1. […] (foldouts as well as those printed on a single-page), which I published a couple of years ago in Volume I: 1906-1915, Volume II: 1916-1925 and Volume III: […]

  2. Diane Pilloud on

    How do I find your “Who’s Who” ? I just happened upon your information about the Mpls Parks as I was researching Cecil Bayless Chapman, the architect of my home in Little Falls, MN. I know he was an architect of a library in nw Minnepolis, but little more. Thank you. Diane Pilloud

    • David C. Smith on

      Thanks for your question, Diane. I haven’t written about any of the architects of Minneapolis park buildings. In my “Who’s Who” I included only engineers and delineators of park plans. Your question suggests, however, that I should really devote a post or two to the architects.

      Off the top of my head I can tell you that Chapman was the architect for the bath house at Lake Calhoun, built in 1912, and the recreation center at Logan Park in 1913. He also submitted the second place design in 1909 design contest for bridges over the canals linking Lake of the Isles with Lake Calhoun and Cedar Lake. That plan was entered by Chapman and civil engineer William Pierce Cowles. I believe their design was used for the bridge on the Lake of the Isles end of the canal that linked Calhoun and Isles. Chapman also designed other rec centers in Minneapolis parks — one at Van Cleve Park, I recall — but none as large or important as the one at Logan Park.

      You might check into the Northwest Architectural Archives at the University of Minnesota to see if they have more information on Chapman.

  3. […] of Minneapolis Park Plans, 1906-1935, which was presented in three installments recently (Vol. 1, Vol. 2, Vol. 3). The catalog identifies all the plans and drawings published in Minneapolis park […]

  4. […] and assumed other researchers and park lovers would find it useful as well.  I’ve already posted the first twenty years worth of plans, and today is Volume III, 1926-1935. Detail of a plan […]

  5. […] few days ago I published the first installment (1906-1915) of an Index to Minneapolis Park Plans presented in the annual reports of the Minneapolis park board while Theodore Wirth was […]

  6. Connie sullivan on

    Wonderful, to index these plans! I have just one nuance, on Wirth’s implementation of his park plans. It has to do with Wirth’s own reiterated statement, that he could not have done what he did to build out the Minneapolis park and parkway system without the Elwell Law.

    That law, proposed and passed through the state legislature by Sen. James T. Elwell in 1909 with subsequent diddlings, provided for the acquisition and improvement of park and parkway land where the “benefitted” property owners did NOT have to pay the entire cost. Elwell came up with a formula that shared the costs between “benefitted” properties, and city taxpayers.

    Elwell lived in the Como neighborhood. In the early 1890s, he owned most of the land surrounding The Second Ward Park, today’s Van Cleve Park. The assessments on his land for costs of buying and improving Van Cleve Park were contributors to Elwell’s bankruptcy. He never forgot that. When he was elected to the state Senate in 1906, he made reform of how that assessing of costs was done a top priority. In fact, Minneapolis street paving, with gutters and curbs and sidewalks, was a huge beneficiary of the Elwell Law.

    • David C. Smith on

      Thanks for that information, Connie. I’d never heard the story of Elwell and his bankruptcy as the seed of the Elwell Law before.

      The Elwell Law did provide for a division of the assessments, although the park board had the prerogative to pay for parks with city bonds as well, or to apportion a greater percentage of costs to the entire city. The essential point to my raising the assessments in the context of this article was to emphasize that property owners held a veto power on those assessments for parks and Wirth’s more elaborate development plans frequently had to be scaled back because of it. He complained bitterly, for instance, of the refusal of property owners in the vicinity of Folwell Park to approve his development plans for that park for years, which lead to a gap of several years between acquisition and development.

      While Wirth was a great supporter of the Elwell Law as a means to pay for parks, some later park commissioners and superintendents believed it had led to inequities in park development with newer, more affluent neighborhoods getting parks and older, poorer neighborhoods going without. That was some of the reasoning behind discussions of park financing methods as early as the 1930s and the elimination of the assessment method of park financing in the 1960s when Robert Ruhe was superintendent. After that, all park developments were paid for with bonds.

      The discussions over park financing and some of the inequities in methods used were at the root of comments from Francis Gross, park board president — and a banker — when he wrote in the 1945 annual report, “In spite of our professed principles of human justice, we still do not have equal opportunities in all quarters. The most satisfying argument for equal recreation opportunties for all remains the simple one of human justice.”

      • David C. Smith on

        I want to quickly correct errors in the comment on the Elwell Law. In the next few days I hope to post a much fuller explanation of the law and how it was used in Minneapolis parks. For now, let me note that the 1911 Elwell Law, as it relates to parks, provided for 100% of the costs of park acquisiton to be assessed on benefitted property. It was later amended to allow the city to pay for up to a third of the cost of assessed projects through bonds. It is also apparent through contemporary news accounts that the genesis of this Elwell Law, at least in part, was a desire to implement the somewhat radical plans of the Plan of Minneapolis by the Civic Commission, which would have required the extensive realignment of Minneapolis streets. (See Minneapolis Tribune, January 19, 1911.)

        The author’s error as to the provisions of the Elwell Law of 1911 in the comment may arise from the fact that there were two Elwell Laws passed that year, often referred to as “outside” and “inside” to distinguish them. The “outside” Elwell Law applied to state highways and did limit the assessments of property owners to 1/4 of the cost of highways. That law was overwhelmingly repealed by the 1915 state legislature. The “inside” Elwell Law, the one that survived, provided a mechanism for Minneapolis to finance street and park development. Rather than restricting the authority of the city council or park board to assess property owners for streets and parks, the law facilitated it.

        Many Minneapolis park acquisitions and improvements were financed by “100% District Elwell” assessments — meaning that all the cost was assessed on property owners who benefitted from the action as determined soley by the park board. The largest “100% District Elwell” was $555,000 to purchase Rice Lake (Lake Hiawatha) and Minnehaha Creek from Lake Hiawatha to the falls in 1922. See the fabulous chart in the 1932 annual report that lists how the acquisition of every park was financed. For a detailed explanation of how the assessments were calculated see Park and Recreation magazine, May-June 1922, “Financing Neighborhood Playgrounds by Special Assessment,” by Charles E. Doell, Assistant Engineer, Minneapolis Board of Park Commissioners. Doell was later Superintendent of Minneapolis parks.

        More on all of these issues soon.

  7. Andrew Caddock on

    This is very valuable work, David. Thank you! Many of the drawings included in annual-reports are available in antique shops, but unfortunately they have been separated from their original context!

    • David C. Smith on

      Thanks, Bill and Andrew. I hope it’s useful to you.

  8. Bill Payne on

    What an undertaking! A valuable resource. I have marveled at the details of the annual reports in which these were included.


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