Kruse-Gross Furriers stood at 3930 West 50th Street back in 1959 when this photo was taken for the tax assessor's office. I couldn't place the building, with a parking lot on one side, with anything that currently exists at 50th and France, but the phone directory told me that the address was now J. Novachis men's clothing store.
Let's take a look at Google maps street view of the store. I wouldn't have recognized it as the same building, but owner John Novachis assures me that it is.
Between John, phone directories and this little gem of a book From the Barber's Chair: 50th and France Avenue, 1936-1988 (by Vern Swanson as told to Tom Clark), I pieced together this history.
The building began its life as First Edina State Bank. When it moved out in 1955, Kruse-Gross Furriers moved in, with Gordon Kruse and Harvard Gross as owners. Kruse had previously worked for Schlampp's furs, based in Uptown.
Indeed, the building had a parking lot at the time to the west between it and neighboring grocery store, Hove's (which later became Lund's.)
For a bird's eye view of the development on this block, take a look at one of my favorite web sites, Historic Aerials. Between 1966 and 1979, a building was constructed in the parking lot.
Over the years, Kruse-Gross added a partner named Albrecht and eventually the name became simply Albrecht's. The business was owned by Paul Garrard when John Novachis, who worked down the street at Belleson's clothing store for 35 years, started his own business in the space six years ago.
I enjoyed chatting about history with John, who knows a lot about the changes at 50th and France after more than four decades in the neighborhood. Talking to people is one of the perks of my job and I had fun with this Photo Friday.
Happy Friday to you!
Tonight many families will gather at church for special Christmas Eve services. In the 1870s, young Ella Grimes (born on April 3, 1867) celebrated the holiday at her family's Episcopal church, located near today's 50th and France.
Victorian tree by Dover Books.
By Ella Grimes Eustis
Excerpt from memoir Out of My Mind
"Christmas was a great time. The large Sunday school Christmas tree always came from my father’s nursery. It was lighted with small tallow candles and trimmed with strings of popcorn and cranberries.
"The unwrapped presents, marked with the pupils’ names, hung from its branches. As each gift was taken down the name was called, and the pupil would go up the aisle to receive it. The girls would get a small doll, a bottle of perfume, a book, or a picture. I do not remember ever seeing a toy or piece of clothing, and certainly no pot-bellied red Santa Claus.
"Money for the presents was always contributed by the fathers, and a committee went to town and bought the presents. My brother Everett and Hattie Godfrey usually served on the committee.
"Two or three families who never sent their children to Sunday school invariably showed up in full force for the Christmas party. These children would be given presents which had been marked for regular attendants. My father was by far the largest cash contributor, so when I would come home with nothing after these once-a-year children had been so splendidly rewarded, my mother would have plenty to say to those responsible for the generous handouts. If those unearned rewards had been inducements to attend Sunday school regularly, all would have been forgiven; but we would never see these families again until the following Christmas."
If this were a Hallmark Christmas movie, the incident would have taught Ella the spirit of giving. But in real life, children with no presents under the tree (or in this case, on it) might be more disgruntled with sharing.
What are your Christmas memories? Did you have to memorize Bible verses to tell the Christmas story? Did your church elders give gifts to the children? Please share your memories by commenting here or emailing me.
The Edina History Museum will be open Thursday, Dec. 27, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Bring your family or get together with your pals from the old neighborhood to see "Growing Up in Edina" exhibit. Free admission.
Just in the nick of time for the holidays, Edina Sculptures is now available at the Edina Art Center.
"I'm proud to showcase Edina's public art at its best," said photographer and author Barbara La Valleur. This is her 14th photo book.
Highlighted are this years' new sculptures plus an historical record of all sculptures ever exhibited on The Promenade, Grandview Square and this year's 50th and France. La Valleur also included a page at the back showing artists installing their sculptures as well as other informal photos of staff and Edina Public Art Committee members.
The front cover features this year's People's Choice First Place winner, Oxymoron by Bruce Stillman. The back cover is a stunning photo of The Pinecone during December foggy morning. The sculpture by Marcia McEachron was generously commissioned by John and Jean Hedberg.
The book is $49 plus tax, with net proceeds going to EPAC. EAC is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. today and on Monday, Dec. 24. For additional hours and directions, see the EAC web site.
La Valleur's first book highlighting Edina public sculptures is part of the Edina Historical Society collection.
This 1959 photo shows several businesses on 49 1/2 Street, the short road behind 50th Street at France Avenue.
Cravens Company Realtors occupied the west end of the building...
Next door stood Alfred Nielsen salon, which took care to note it had air-conditioning, a given today.
After that, the business signs on the building are difficult to read, but never fear, the 1959 reverse phone directory is here. In the back of the older phone books, residents and businesses were listed by address. From the list below, you can see that a second salon (Evelyn Stauffer Salon) and Western Union also occupied this building.
Before the days of instant communication, people with an urgent message sent telegrams via Western Union. During World War II, the US government informed families their loved ones were dead or missing in action via a telegram, but people also sent telegrams to send happier news, such as birth announcements or notes of congratulations. In 2006, the company ended that service, but still transfers money for customers. See this web site for more on Western Union's interesting history.
Hooten's Cleaners (3944 49 1/2 Street), still in operation, was featured in a past Photo Friday.
If you remember any of these businesses, comment here or email me.
Happy Friday, everyone! If you have friends and family home for the holidays, take them to see our "Growing Up in Edina" exhibit now on display. We'll be open our regular hours: Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to noon. Admission is free.
Seventy-six years ago this month, Edina residents learned of a plan to create another neighborhood of "fine homes" next to the Village's original luxury neighborhood, the Edina Country Club District.
Here's the story as it appeared in the December 1936 issue of the The Crier, the monthly newspaper for the CCD. Developer Merrill Hutchinson, an advertising executive, describes how he wanted to create "a colony of friends" in his development. Those friends included Howard W. Files, vice president of the Pillsbury Flour Mills, and others who would be "carefully restricted." In fact, Hutchinson took care to note that Rolling Green was not being developed as a real estate venture; "tracts being for sale only to a small group of good neighbors."
You can read Hutchinson's first-person account of his discovering of the land to his plans for the future below.
Unlike the formal grid pattern of the Country Club District, Rolling Green roads meandered and included much larger lots and amenities that included a stable for 12 horses, a bridal path, and tennis courts and other recreational facilities on eight acres of the 130-acre development.
I'm not sure if how long those amenities lasted, or if they were even built. (I'd have to do more research to answer that question. Does anyone know?)
For a look at how the neighborhood looks today, see Google aerial image below:
Rolling Green, then as now, benefits from "location, location, location." Bordered by Interlachen Golf Course to the west and Meadowbrook Golf Course to the north, Rolling Green has no through streets that bring traffic into the neighborhood. The main thoroughfare, Interlachen Boulevard, borders the south end. Hutchinson developed Hilldale, the neighborhood to the west, a few years later in 1939.
What can you tell me about Rolling Green's history or its developer? In my research, I've found some interesting facts about Merrill Hutchinson, including his participation in the Minnesota Law and Order League, his retirement project of building model-sized model houses, and his development of a tube pan patent. As always, I love to hear your comments. Please share your memories here or email me.
It's baaaaaack... After a few weeks' lapse, I went into the files to scan more commercial photos we have from the tax assessor's office. In honor of the final days of Christmas shopping, I bring you Edina Card & Gift Shop at 50th and France.
Or more specifically, the store was located at 5004 France Avenue South, according to the ad in the 1960 phone directory.
I have to say the ad for L'Unique, a women's clothing store next door, was more... unique.
The shops are gone, the businesses as well as their buildings. This area of France Avenue is now the new building that houses Sur La Table (if the old addresses are the same as the new ones.)
Can anyone tell me more about these two businesses? The "rental library" (listed on the card shop sign) particularly intrigues me. What did the store rent? Certainly not cards or gifts. As always, feel free to comment here or email me.
Happy shopping, everyone!
Edina's first major snow fall brought sledders to Arneson Acres this week.
They were no doubt in school on Thursday morning when I took these photos, but they left evidence of their fun with all the tracks in the snow.
The view out my window reminded me to reserve the lower level Terrace Room at the Edina History Museum for our annual sledding parties. (Well, annual is a bit of a stretch, since we had to cancel last year's dates because of the lack of snow.)
Mark your calendar for Saturday, February 2, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Backup date will be Feb. 16 if the weather isn't cooperative.) Bring your sled or snowshoes and enjoy the park, and then come inside for free hot chocolate and treats, and warm up by the fireplace. Parents should supervise their own children, and all activities are undertaken at your own risk. It's quite a hill, and a favorite of neighbor kids for decades. See this past blog post on Mort Arneson for more about the park and the sledding hill.
We'll also have our "Growing Up in Edina" exhibit open to visitors. If you have your own growing up memories about sledding or winter in Edina, please comment here or share them with me by email.
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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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