To envision how much Edina has changed over the past few decades, drive along 78th street near Highway 100 and look north. Instead of office buildings and businesses, in the 1950s you would see a scene like the one pictured above.
The Bernie Nelson family operated a dairy farm on land bounded on the east and west by Highway 100 and Cahill Road and the north and south by 70th and 78th Streets. I haven't driven by recently to compare views but Steve Nelson, whose grandparents owned the farm, said the stand of trees (in the background of this picture) can still be seen on the west side of Highway 100 on 70th Street.
The land was known as Hill Home Farm. Steve has another photo that clearly shows why. A beautiful home sits at the top of a hill overlooking pasture and the barn. The family plans to donate a decorative iron gate that was at the entrance of the property as well as more photos.
To some, the 1950s isn't "historic" because they lived through those times. I happen to disagree. As this photo shows, dairy cows and barns are no longer part of the landscape in Edina. We collect items from each chapter of Edina's history, even as the page has just been turned.
A group of Cub Scouts and their fathers from Troop 4, Morningside.
While the above image seems non-controversial, perhaps no artifact in our collection has generated more discussion and disagreements. For one, it was originally identified as a Boy Scout Troop -- we were immediately told by several people who saw it during the 2005 Morningside exhibit that it was, in fact, a group of Cub Scouts and their fathers.
Several former Scouts -- Ron Shirk, Larry Nickander, Jim Grunnet and Bob Reid (and his sister Betty), among others -- spent some time trying to identify people in the photo. They have done a pretty good job of identifying the boys, but strangely enough, nearly all the fathers' have the same first name: "Mister."
I'm joking, of course. But most kids of the era didn't address grown ups by their first names, so we had to look up names in city phone directories to get better information.
The date has been the topic of friendly debate. Based on their age at the time, many people in the photograph have done the math with their birth dates and come up with different years. For the purpose of this blog, I'm not even going to publish the date. Not even with the vague qualifier "circa." I'm not opening up that can of worms today.
My point is: this is a topic near and dear to people's hearts. Boy Scouts (and Cub Scouts) defined childhood years for a great many Edina residents.
Therefore, I was happy to receive a recent donation from Jim Grunnet, whose father Leslie served as scoutmaster for many years for Troop 4 in Morningside. The box of donations includes: lists of members, badges, Scouting projects and this bugle and bugle song book used by Jim.
Gangsters, bootleggers and runaway trains.. these are just a few stories from the 80-year history of the Edina Police Department. Find out more at the City of Edina web site. Police officer Kevin Rofidal serves as the department historian and has gathered hundreds of photos, some of them shown on an on-line slide show.
Kevin helped us create an exhibit showcasing the history of Edina's Police and Fire Departments a few years ago and continues to collect artifacts and photos, as well as interview retiring officers for their stories from Edina history.
The web site contains only a small portion of the department's history. Visit our research library to access more information from our collection.
One of the unofficial attractions at the Edina History Museum is seeing the new donations to the collection as they come in. Visitors yesterday were treated to the first look at a unique crazy quilt that was begun in 1882. Donated by Edina resident James Grunnet, the quilt documents the homes lived in by members of his family. Three of the homes were located in the Morningside neighborhood of Edina, which was an independent village from 1920 to 1966.
Embroidered on scraps of clothing worn by family members, the local homes include: 4410 Curve Avenue, 4015 Sunnyside Avenue and 4013 Sunnyside Avenue.
Four women in the Grunnet and Leerskov families worked on the quilt, which is in excellent condition. The quilt will not be on display in the immediate future, but before we carefully preserve and store the beautiful quilt, I wanted to share it with you.
Whether you attended Edina schools or not, you may have learned to play your band instrument with help from Edina teacher Hal Freese. A popular teacher at Creek Valley and Countryside Elementary Schools, Hal also wrote several band lesson books used in many school districts.
Despite Hal's prominence in Edina schools, we don't currently have a lot of information about him in our collection beyond his obituary and yearbook information and photos. I happened upon Hal's name after I attended a University of Minnesota Marching Band concert, emceed by Hal's son Stan Freese.
An elite tuba player and current Talent Casting & Booking Director with Disney Entertainment Productions, Stan mentioned that he graduated from Edina schools. That led me to an internet search, which led me to info about Hal Freese, which in turn prompted many people talking about what a great man he was.
Stan and I are working on documenting Hal and his musical family. Hal's wife Ethel was a piano and voice teacher, and Stan's sons Josh and Jason are also talented professional musicians, playing for such groups as the Vandals and Green Day.
I have received some information from former students as well. Patricia Bender sent this photo, circa 1975, that appeared in South View or Edina East yearbook. (Note the music teachers' reading material!) Hal is the third man from the left.
Please send me your photos, Hal Freese lesson books or stories about him.
From time to time, I will highlight helpful resources for researchers or anyone interested in learning more about Edina's great history.
If you are hoarding past issues of the City of Edina's quarterly newsletter "About Town," you are not alone. Many people each year sheepishly drop off boxes and bags of past issues that they have been saving for their great features about the history of Edina. Because they're moving or cleaning house, they finally decide to get rid of the publications -- with a great deal of regret.
You do not need to stockpile your reading material any more. The City of Edina has put issues from Winter 2001 to present on-line. You can easily read the stories on the city's web site. (If this link doesn't work, simple type "About Town" and Edina in your search engine.)
For those unfamiliar with the history features, you'll soon find out why residents enjoy them so much. For more than a decade, three writers have explored in-depth a variety of topics, including the history of street names, historic landmarks, neighborhoods and pioneer families.
Dudley Parsons, whose family was among the first in the Morningside neighborhood, was the first to write the quarterly column. When he died, local historian Deborah Morse-Kahn took over She explored many new topics as she wrote and researched the wonderful history book "Edina: Chapters in the City History." Long-time resident and writer Joe Sullivan has written the column for several years. He also has written a book about the history of St. Patrick's Church in Edina. (To learn more about Dudley Parsons, read Joe's story in the Winter 2006 issue.)
For those that would rather read on paper rather than on-line, we have every past issue (and sometimes more than one copy thanks to our donors who have brought in those boxes and bags) at the Edina History Museum.
Morningside Women's Club knit sweaters for soliders during World War II. Students at Wooddale School collected newspapers and scrap metal to fund the war effort. Everyone walked or took the streetcar because gas was rationed. Edina residents raised chickens in their backyards and planted Victory Gardens to feed their families.
During World War II, the whole country participated in the war effort, not just the soldiers fighting on the front line. We're working on an exhibit that will capture that period of time in Edina. Please help by donating or loaning photos or artifacts that will tell that story. Call me at 612-928-4577 to find out more.
Photo donated by Nancy Gregg Shehi shows Mr. Engen's science class at Wooddale School in 1942-43. Students responded to the need to collect scrap metal for the war effort by bringing in metal keys, shown on a string across middle row. From left to right, top row: Dick Jamieson, Bill Smith, Mary Ellen Shufflebein, Jackie Broderson, Marilyn Hutchinson, Diane Fait, Mary Cardle, Margie Christopher, Mariane Borglin, Jeanine Boulay. Middle row: Susan McQueen, Marian Merchant, Emily Hartzell, Sally Jackson, Penny Covell, Sally Wyatt, Mary Ann Johnson, Barbara Whitcomb, Norma Anderson. Bottom row: Chuck Schauss, Harry Drone, Robert Harvey, Gerald Adolphson, Tony Dvorak, Bruce Christiansen, Doug Nelson, Floyd Young.
My kindergarten class used to sing a song with those lyrics based on a poem by Christopher Morley. It popped into my mind this morning at the museum when we had not only hot chocolate and animal crackers but also fresh snow and plenty of sledders enjoying the great hill just steps outside the building door.
Next weekend, the building is booked for other events, but we'll open our doors again to sledders and others who want to enjoy our backyard: a beautiful 14-acre city park.
The building will be open from 10 a.m. to noon on Feb. 20 and Feb. 27. Warm up in front of the fireplace and enjoy the view. Today we saw two bald eagles circle over the park!
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Jennifer Adam is the Executive Director of the Edina Historical Society. She welcomes your contributions. Comment on a post or send an email (see below). Traditional mail, of course, can also be sent to:
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