History factoids

What were these items used for?
More mysterious objectsThese items were used to make butter in the late 1890s. The photo shows a butter churn, butter mold, butter paddle and a butter keeper. You can see them and many other things from this era at the Charles H. Burwell House. The house is located at 13209 East McGinty Road.
What used to be on the Glen Lake Golf course site?
In the early 1900s the Glen Lake Sanatorium was built. It was one of the largest in the state. In the 1920s and 1930s it housed more than 700 tuberculosis patients. In the late 1940s more effective drugs were developed to treat the disease. By 1960 the sanatorium was no longer needed for tuberculosis patients. In 1962 the site was turned over to the state and used for the Oak Terrace Nursing Home. The state ended its lease of the site with Hennepin County in 1991 and the nursing home closed. A task force including city officials from Minnetonka, Eden Prairie, Hennepin County, and Glen Lake area residents formed to explore options and make recommendations for the site. Their recommendations resulted in the golf course.
Where did the name Somerset Knolls come from?

Steiner and Koppelman began developing Somerset Knolls, which is located on the north side of Highway 7, near Tonkawood Road, in 1954. The first addition was platted from the Adolph Hanus farm, and subsequent additions were from the Prestholdt and Walter Johnson properties.

There were seven different additions and all of the streets were given the names of English towns and counties. Shelia Steiner, Paul Steiner’s wife, was raised in England and her parents were born in the County of Somerset. Oxford Place was named after her hometown. Many of the other names are places that were familiar and had good memories for the Steiners —Banbury Lane, Chiltern Hills Drive, Canterbury Drive, Devon Drive, Winchester Court, and Windermere Place.

How did Temple Village get its name?
Temple Village is located within Minnetonka on 80 acres south of Highway 7 and west of Woodland Road. Gospel Temple, a church group in Minneapolis, purchased the property in 1953 from the Kokesh family. They planned to develop the area as a community for their members. The church members were unwilling to sell their homes in Minneapolis and move to Minnetonka. Thus the dream failed. In the latter half of the 1950s Gospel Temple sold most of the land to contractors. Mr. Carlson (first name unknown) or Elmo Ginkel, a local developer, constructed most of the homes in Temple Village.
How many names has Minnehaha Creek had?
Minnehaha Creek has had at least five names. In 1823—Brown’s Falls, then Brown’s Creek; 1845—Cascade Creek; 1856—Little Falls Creek (smaller than those at St. Anthony); 1855—Minnehaha Creek, after Longfellow’s poem “Hiawatha” was published. The name is derived from the Indian words: “mine”—water, and “haha”—falls, or laughing.
Who is the official historian of Minnetonka?
Minnetonka has not had an official historian since the death of Dana Frear many years ago. Subsequently, Betty Johnson unofficially filled that volunteer role, presenting her “Minnetonka: Then and Now” slide show to school children and community groups. At the January 26th, 2004 city council meeting, the council passed a resolution designating Betty Johnson as Minnetonka’s Official Historian, in recognition of her deep commitment to the history of Minnetonka and the countless hours she has devoted to sharing that information with others.
Who was the largest employer in Hennepin County in 1856–57?

The furniture factory at Minnetonka Mills employed 100 people during its busiest season. During an average week 200 bedsteads and 1000 chairs were turned out.

There were 300,000 feet of lumber in the yard, with an additional 1,500,000 feet of logs in the mill pond above the dam waiting to be sawed.

Where were the first churches in Minnetonka?

Most of the first settlers in Minnetonka were of English descent therefore the first church was Episcopalian. St. John’s Episcopal Church was built in the early 1850s in the Minnetonka Mills area.

A non-denominational Sunday School was organized in the Groveland area in 1858. In the early 1870’s a Methodist Sunday School was organized and the earlier one discontinued.

Bohemians in the vicinity of Shady Oak Lake gathered on Sundays for prayers and bible readings. The Catholic bishop in St. Paul suggested that the Catholics withdraw from this group and form their own church. In 1880 St. Margaret’s was completed.

In 1881, what occupied the land where Bennis Feed & Fuel and the Minnetonka Mills Dairy Queen are located today?
In 1881, Thorleif Larson opened a blacksmith shop on this site. Farmers came from miles around to get their horses shod, and wagons and buggies repaired. Blacksmiths also made nails and cooking kettles.
How did the “Scenic Heights” area of Minnetonka get its name?
In the early 1900s Frank J. Picha decided that it was time for him and his wife Mary to build their own home. Frank J. had inherited land from his father. His father had an 80-acre farm located on the north side of Excelsior Blvd, between Woodland Road and Holiday Road. Frank J. borrowed $4,000 to pay for several buildings including a five-bedroom home, barn, and cattle sheds. The land was hilly and picturesque, similar to Bohemia from where his father had immigrated. Frank J. called the area “Scenic Heights,” a name that is still used in the area.
How did the early settlers keep their food cold in the summer?

Ice was cut from area lakes in the winter and hauled by a team of horses to an ice house. These buildings had double walls, with sawdust packed between. When it was time to replenish the ice, the old sawdust was removed and fresh sawdust put in. A layer of sawdust was also put between the inside wall and the ice blocks, and on top of the blocks as insulation to keep them frozen.

These blocks of ice were used in the summer to keep the food cold that was stored in the “ice box.” You can see one of these “ice boxes” at the Charles H. Burwell house.

How many people lived in Minnetonka in 1857? How many in 2002?

1857: 41 Households

Estimated 2002: 21,480 households—51,440 people

What is this?

A mysterious object.This partially completed baseball was found tucked under the eaves in the upstairs of the woodshed at the Burwell House. Other items with it seem to indicated that it came from the Burwell family—we assume it may have been Loring’s.

It can be seen in Loring’s bedroom at the Burwell House. Tours available June thru September.

When was the original Minnetonka Town Hall built?
The original town hall was built in 1907 at the corner of Baker Road and Minnetonka Blvd. The cost was $2,500. Prior to this time, town meetings were held in the hotel, church, or dance hall. The records were kept at the home of the city clerk. Additions were added to the building as Minnetonka grew. In 1970 the city offices were relocated to their present location. The old Town Hall building currently is being used by Minnetonka Community Church for its youth activities.
Where was the first school in Minnetonka and how did the children get there?
The first school in Minnetonka was built at Groveland in 1854. It was a one-room schoolhouse. All of the pupils walked to school. On unusually cold days their parents often brought them. In 1924, J.E. Deveau began to provide bus service for some of the children attending Groveland and Minnetonka Mills schools.
How long did it take to get from Minneapolis to the Glen Lake area of Minnetonka in 1913?
The distance from the Glen Lake area to downtown Minneapolis is 12.6 miles. The streetcars took 36 minutes to travel this distance. There was a waiting station located at Excelsior Boulevard and Eden Prairie Road. It even had its own bathroom! The economic depression of the 1930’s saw the decline of the operation of the Glen Lake/Minneapolis streetcars. In 1932 the Minneapolis to Minnetonka line was discontinued.
Where was the first hotel in the Lake Minnetonka area built?
The first hotel in the Lake Minnetonka area was the Minnetonka Hotel. It was built in 1853 just east of the present Minnetonka Community Church. It was built with some of the lumber from the sawmill that was located on the present Burwell site.
How did Purgatory Creek get its name?
Early settlers, traveling to Excelsior along an old Native American trail, came to some springs around dusk. The trail was the worst they had traveled, the land was swampy, and the mosquitoes were horrible. One of the settlers said, “This is hell!” “No, it’s ever worse,” another replied, “It’s purgatory!”
When did Minnetonka become a city?
Minnetonka became a village in 1956. The complexities and the heavy demands of administering a rapidly developing community required professional management and larger representation. In 1969 a city charter was approved. The city had 35,000 residents.