Yes, you've seen a few photos of the Edina Theater. Every book about Edina history contains at least one photo of the iconic landmark shining from 50th and France. But you probably haven't seen this one.
At least, I hadn't come across the photo in my eight years as director. I "discovered" the tiny two-inch by three-inch photo, hidden away in its proper archival storage sleeve, when I was pulling another photo from the envelope. I say "discovered" because the snapshot was never lost; it just hasn't been published (as far as I can tell) since it was donated in 1996.
Arguably, there are better photos of the theater. When only one photo is used to illustrate a story, writers invariably pick one that shows the theater among the other businesses along 50th Street for context.
I will date myself and say this photo is the B-side of our theater's photographic record: good but not as commercially successful as the A-side.
I love the details in this little snapshot, like the original fancy marquee, and the movie title "Meet John Doe," which tells us this photo was probably taken in 1941. You can also see "AIR CONDITIONED" on the Brown Derby Cafe window (lower right) and "COOL" on the ticket window (lower left)....
You know, .just in case you missed the huge sign hanging front and center that proclaims, "IT'S COOL INSIDE."
Do the signs tell you that air conditioning might have been a big deal at the time? It was. The theater was one of the only, if not the first, places in town to offer a cool escape from the summer heat and the problems of the Depression and then World War II.
If I had any self-control whatsoever, I would wait to publish this post until the dog days of summer. But this fabulous picture has waited long enough to see the light of day, don't you think?
Many thanks to Bob Moore, who donated the photo from his grandfather Ben B. Moore's collection. Ben lived in the Country Club and was an active neighborhood and community booster and served on the Village Council. (If the name sounds familiar there's good reason. He donated home movie footage of St. Stephen's Church construction, mentioned here. He was also involved in the Minnehaha cascade project, described here.) His grandson Bob also is involved in Edina, serving on both the Heritage Preservation Board and the Edina Historical Society Board.
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Greetings, Dear Readers:
Meet John H. Craik, first postmaster in Edina. One day I will tell you all about his job, but today I will be completely frivolous and concentrate on his looks. Isn't he handsome?
I think he would be a good candidate for "My Daguerreotype Boyfriend." Not MY Daguerreotype Boyfriend, mind you. I am happily married, perhaps not coincidentally to a man with (much, much shorter) facial hair.
Instead, I'm talking about the blog featuring "a collection of splendid looking young chaps from the days of yore. My Daguerreotype Boyfriend brings you black-and-white public domain photographs of cute boys from way back when - many of whom are well known," as BuzzFeed so accurately describes it. Handsome men of history include Charlie Chaplin, Teddy Roosevelt and Jim Thorpe as well as Civil War soldiers, cowboys, pilots and the like.
I think Edina has grown some handsome fellas over the years, but I don't think I'll post additional photos for your viewing pleasure. Admiring long-dead celebrities is one thing, but pointing out the fine looks of a hometown hottie, even from the 1880s, seems... well, a little weird.
On the other hand, John Craik's great (or was it great-great?) granddaughter didn't mind at all when I pointed out that our first postmaster was good lookin.' She readily agreed. So I felt I could use this picture as a perfect local example of "My Daguerreotype Boyfriend."
We will return to our regularly scheduled non-frivolous programming tomorrow. Look for a "cool" photo of the Edina Theater in the next installment of "Photo Friday."
Today, let's put on our Sherlock Holmes hat and investigate a little mystery that has stumped me and my colleagues at the Eden Prairie Historical Society: what was the now-destroyed building that once overlooked Garrison Pond?
Theories abound: mushroom house, cockfighting arena, gazebo, schoolhouse, teahouse, monastery....Researcher Craig Olson has heard them all as he has tried to find out more about the small ruins, now the site of Bioscrip at the southwest corner of Highways 169 and 62.
Here's the Google image below of the Bioscrip site.
Craig wrote us because he was curious about this building he remembered visiting more than 20 years ago.
"In the early 80's a friend of mine showed me this spot in Eden Prairie where he would walk up the hill and eat his lunch while on break at work. It was an octagon shaped building (ruins when I saw it), with only partial walls and a basement with bars on the windows. I believe the basement was made of poured concrete and the top was brick. It also had a fireplace in it with some strange carvings or impressions in some of the bricks like mushrooms.The building was probably no more than 20-25 feet wide.
I went back in the early 90's to see it, but it was almost completely destroyed by then. I have looked on HistoricAerials.com and have seen it in the photos from '57, '66 and '79.":
Here is a 1979 image from Historic Aerials.com of the location. To further peruse the area through the years and zoom in closer, see their great web site. (I confess: I don't see an octagon shaped building on a quick perusal. Maybe you can. View it as a "Where's Waldo?" type of challenge.)
Craig asks, "My main question is what the building was used for. I have heard several opinions... but no one can actually confirm. Apparently there was a man named Larry Russell that had photos of the building when it was still standing and knew quite a lot about it, but he has passed on. Any information pertaining to this would be greatly appreciated."
I consulted Frank Cardarelle, a surveyor who has offices near the property, and he believes it was a gazebo built by a homeowner in his large backyard. He remembers it as a little retreat for the builder, who never quite finished it before the land was sold.
Really? A gazebo? That answer seems way too tame. I was hoping for wild stories about mushroom-growing monks who held cockfights on the weekend and served tea on weekdays.
If you can solve this mystery, please email me or comment on this post.
Photo Friday is back, after a too-long hiatus while I tried to catch up on cataloging a huge backlog of donated artifacts and photos. More about that on Monday.
Today, let's take a look back at a photo donated in 2001 of an earlier Edina. I'm guessing this dates from the 1950s, but you car aficionados may be able to get more specific. (I can't tell a 1958 Oldsmobile from a 1960 Ford, but I know many of you can.)
Any guesses of this photo's location? For those who grew up in southwest Edina, this question is a no-brainer. But the rest of you might have more difficulty, since the area looks (almost) nothing like this today.
Take a good look.
Give up? It's the intersection of Cahill Road and 70th Street, the heart of the Irish Cahill settlement dating from the 1850s.
First settled in the mid-1850s, the Irish Cahill community almost immediately built a church, school and store at this important crossroads. Nearly a century later, the same institutions stood at the same corners (although some in newer buildings.)
Cahill School was built in 1864. Although a modern brick Cahill School was built in 1948, the pioneer era school still was used for kindergarten classes until 1958. The school stood vacant for more than a decade, until it was restored in 1969 and moved to Tupa Park. Today, the Edina Historical Society runs living history programs in the historic building.
Hugh Darcy's son Moses built a general store across the street from Cahill School. Destroyed by fire in 1918, the store was rebuilt on the same site. From 1944 to 1965, retired Edina teacher John Cameron owned what was then called "Cahill Grocery" in the phone book, but was more commonly known as Cameron's Store by neighborhood residents.
St. Patrick's Church, not pictured, served the community at the southwest corner of the intersection. Although the church was also destroyed by fire, the congregation rebuilt a new church at the same corner.
By the 1930s, Protestant families had moved into the predominantly Irish Catholic neighborhood and, by all reports, felt welcome. They held services at Cahill School until they built Calvary Lutheran Church in 1938. Both churches have since moved. The old St. Patrick's church is gone, but Calvary's first church still survives as a single family home and the only reminder of a bygone era.
I like this photo because it shows an important crossroads, both the physical location and the moment in time. By the late 1960s, new retail and housing had transformed the formerly rural landscape forever.
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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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