Wirth Lake Mystery Structure

Rod Miller asked if I knew what this was. I didn’t.

Photos by Rod Miller

The concrete structure lies west of Wirth Lake between the lake and Theodore Wirth Parkway north of the remnants of the Loring Cascade.

Could it have been a storage facility or root cellar when the park board’s nursery was located in Wirth Park? The nursery was originally established there in the early 1900s on the suggestion of William Folwell to reduce the cost of acquiring the trees being planted throughout the city.

Or was it a structure related to the former farm on the site? The farm house served as a residence for the park board horticulturist unti the mid-1960s. Why was the structure built below grade? Do the concrete construction method or metal grates in the roof help to date the structure?

It is apparently not related to the artificial Loring Cascade which was built in the 1918 and relied on water pumped from the lake. Nor was it likely part of later efforts–beginning in the late 1950s–to pump water from Bassett’s Creek to the Chain of Lakes. There is no sign of the piping that would have been required in those efforts and the structure is probably too far north and west to have been part of those projects.

The man-made Loring Cascade as it looked upon completion in 1918, but before the water was turned on. At the far left is Louis Boeglin, the park horticulurist at the time, who lived in the farm house at the nearby nursery for many years. Park superintendent Theodore Wirth is at the center of the photo. Behind him is Francois Scotti the designer of the cascade. Scotti invented the technique of manufacturing the boulders–they are not real–used to create the 40-foot-tall cascade. The cascade was a gift of Charles Loring. Unfortunately the manufactured cascade did not survive Minnesota winters. The remnants can still be seen along the western edge of Theodore Wirth Parkway near the lake.

If you know what the concrete structure was used for and when it was built, please post a comment.

David Carpentier Smith

2 comments so far

  1. Weber, Andrea (DOT) on

    David,
    This structure is a former root cellar used when the NW corner of the park was the park board nursery.

    Thanks,
    Andrea

    Andrea S. Weber, PLA
    MnDOT Historic Roadside Property Program Manager

    • David C. Smith on

      Thanks, Andrea! Andrea is a former planner for the park board.


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