Shared History: Edina’s Early Days

Edina and Minneapolis share more than France Avenue — and history buffs aren’t restricted by city boundaries.

Henry Brown played an important role in the history of Edina as well as the history of Minnehaha Falls as a Minneapolis park.

There is a Chowen Park in both Edina and Minneapolis.

Minnehaha Creek flows through Minneapolis parkland  before it gets to Edina — and, of course, all of Minnehaha Creek after it leaves Edina on its way through Minneapolis to Minnehaha Falls and the Mississippi River is parkland.

The Interlachen neighborhood grew up around a golf course created by golfers who had outgrown their nine-hole Bryn Mawr course near downtown Minneapolis. 

That’s just a taste of the rich information on Edina history — and Minneapolis history  — on the web site of realtor Ben Ganje. Go to the neighborhood directory on his site then look at the right margin for a list of Edina neighborhoods. Each of Edina’s 45 official neighborhoods is profiled with historical info and interesting bits of trivia.

I read about Todd Park because of my interest in famous diva Emma Abbott, a Minneapolis girl made good. Her father was one of those first interested in developing this part of Edina.

Why was I interested in Emma Abbott? She was buried next to her husband in Oak Grove Cemetery in his home town, Gloucester, Mass. Their monument is the most impressive in that cemetery, which I visited this fall.

Oak Grove, Emma Abbott Memorial

Emma Abbott’s memorial in Oak Grove Cemetery, Gloucester, Mass. Designing the cemetery was one of H.W.S. Cleveland’s first commissions as a landscape architect in 1854. (Photos: David C. Smith)

Laying out Oak Grove Cemetery was one of the first commissions Horace William Shaler Cleveland received as a landscape architect. Oak Grove, Emma Abbott WetherleyHe was hired for that job, with his young partner Robert Copeland, in 1854. The next year they tackled the design of the much more prestigious Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, Mass., the eventual resting place of many of the great writers of early America: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne and his wife, Sophia, a childhood friend of Horace Cleveland.

More Edina History of Interest to Minneapolitans

Another Edina neighborhood profile I liked was Creek Knoll, which borders Minneapolis and was first promoted as a residential development for its nearness to Lake Harriet.

Also check out the profile of Morningside, a neighborhood that was also subdivided and developed partly because of the rapidly rising prices of residential lots nearer Lake Harriet in the early 1900s.

For those of you interested in park history in general, you might want to read about park development at Pamela Park, Bredesen Park and also the land once owned by four-term Minneapolis mayor, George Leach, that became Braemar Golf Course. The Lake Cornelia history also presents some of the challenges of park making as well as stormwater management that face cities as well as suburbs.

Can you still catch northern pike in Centennial Lakes?

Worth a look if you want to know more about our southwestern neighbor — and our metropolitan area from water management and freeways to shopping centers.

David C. Smith   minneapolisparkhistory[at]q.com

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4 comments so far

  1. Jim Krave on

    Morningside was not just a neighborhood, but a municipality, which became part of Edina in 1966 and it all centered around 44th and France.

    • David C. Smith on

      Hi Jim, True. If you clicked on the link in my piece you’d see the entire history. Morningside was part of Edina, seceded, then opted back into Edina in 1966.

  2. Joan Pudvan on

    HI DAVID, YOU CONTINUE TO SURPRISE ME WITH YOUR KNOWLEDGE AND WILLINGNESS TO DIG UNTIL YOU FIND THE FACTS!! THE RESULTS ARE AMAZING; I’M SURE YOU SPEND HOURS AND HOURS RESEARCHING ALL THIS. THANK YOU FOR INCLUDING ME AND KNOW THAT YOUR EFFORTS ARE MUCH APPRECIATED BY THIS HOMESICK OLD LADY!! I’VE BEEN A LOT OF PLACES BUT NEVER FOUND ONE AS GOOD AS HOME…..AND YOUR BLOG. MERRY CHRISTMAS MY FRIEND…..JOAN P

    • David C. Smith on

      Thanks, Joan. I appreciate your support and encouragement.


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