As owner of the mill that gave Edina its name, George Millam is arguably one of the most photographed "founding fathers" of Edina. We have several photos of him in our collection, all taken near the end of his life when the long idle mill was about to be torn down.
Here the 80-year-old sits in his abandoned mill in about 1932. The photo ran in the Minneapolis Tribune.
But those photos don't provide a complete picture of the many decades of George Millam's life in Edina. Thanks to a recent meeting with George's great granddaughters, however, we now have photos from George's life as a young husband and father.
Here the young couple is pictured with early in their married life, with an unidentified daughter, possibly Lillian, who died at age three from drowning in a cistern.
Karen Frederickson, whose grandmother Mary Edna was George and Margaret's daughter, provided additional family photos that help provide a more complete view of the "old miller of Edina." The community called him the miller long after the Edina Mill quit operating due to low water and competition from the Minneapolis industrial mills.
The Millams were among the founding families of Edina. George Millam was one of 47 milling community residents who signed a petition to form the independent village of Edina in 1888. By then, the Scottish immigrant had lived in the community for almost 20 years. He came to Edina in 1869, hired by then-owner of the mill, fellow Scotsman Andrew Craik.
After saving for three years, Millam paid for his sweetheart Margaret Gibb's passage from Scotland to Edina. The couple, married 62 years, would raise nine children, in addition to Lillian. One daughter Mabel would marry Frank K. Willson, from another Edina founding family.
His descendants,along with other families of Edina's founders,will be honored at a Founders' Day program on Thursday, Dec. 12. The community celebration of Edina's Quasquicentennial, or 125th anniversary, will begin with an open house at historic Cahill School and Minnehaha Grange Hall, where the historic 1888 vote took place. The celebration moves across the street to Edina City Hall at 6 p.m. for a social hour and a concert by the Edina Chorale. A 7 p.m. program with short readings and songs that retell "125 years of history in 45 minutes" will be followed by cake in the lobby.
The public is invited to attend all or part of the festivities. The program is a free Quasquicentennial event, sponsored by the City of Edina.
Nope, it's not a typo. While this blog normally features "Photo Friday," this week it's "Photo Wednesday" because I can't wait two more days to show you this great photo donated by the granddaughter of Red Joyce, who owned a bakery in Morningside for several decades.1931 ad
Finally, photographic evidence of a long-time local business that served generations of Edina and Morningside residents.
According to the 1966 phone directory ad (above), Joyce's Bakery opened in 1922, just two years after the little neighborhood of Morningside seceded from Edina to create its own village. (Note: the owner was not related to 1960s Morningside Mayor Ken Joyce.)
Owner W.J. "Red" Joyce was well-known for his red hair and his white bread.
Located at 4406 France Avenue South, Joyce's Bakery shared a building with Carlson's Odd Shop, Burr Cheever's barber shop, Morningside Hardware and Griffen Drug.
You probably know the building now as the Bruegger's Bagels building at Sunnyside Avenue and France Avenue. If addresses haven't changed, Joyce's Bakery is in the same space as Gear Running store is today. (See Google street view image below of the corner.)
At some point in the 1960s, Joyce sold the business. The new owner kept the name and many of the same products. I met the new owner at our Morningside exhibit in 2005 and he told me that he couldn't stay in business after shopping trends changed; shoppers bought bread and rolls during their regular supermarket trip rather than running a separate errand to shop at Joyce's.
When I followed up to find out more information and photos, his phone number was disconnected. Years later, the original owner's granddaughter Liz Welch emailed me this week with today's great photo and she promises more to come. I may wait until a Friday to show them here, but we may have a "Photo Monday" or "Photo Tuesday" in our future!
What do you remember about Joyce's Bakery? We have received some great comments on our Facebook page:
On Mondays, I turn the blog over to reader comments and add a few thoughts of my own.
Ask for a list of famous people in Edina, and people quickly mention sports stars and other residents who have achieved national fame, like movie star Tippi Hedren ("The Birds"), novelist Judith Guest ("Ordinary People) and Twins owner Carl Pohlad.
There is another category of famous people, who may not be famous on a national level but who are (or were during their lifetimes) very well-known within our city limits.
I'm talking about people like:
I think these big fish in our small pond played bigger roles in shaping our community history than any national celebrity ever did. What do you think? Who are the people we should remember within the Edina Historical Society collections? Please comment here or email me.
A recent reader comment had me thinking about this topic. John Shepherd wrote about public servant Harold Schwartz. While I have not yet met Harold, he's a well-known name at the museum. Inevitably, visitors reminiscing about growing up in Morningside recall the man who "was the saving grace in our community," as John put it. Thanks for writing, John!
Harold Schwartz, Morningside's Public Works employee
By John Shepherd
Time to remember Harold Schwartz. I lived in Morningside, MN, from 1954 to 1965. My parents lived at 4045 Sunnyside ave. Harold Schwartz was the saving grace in our community. He took care of snow plowing, sewers, pot holes and much, much more.
When it snowed he would lift his plow blade so that the drift wasn't left in front of your driveway. When there were garbage strikes through the years, he was there to pick up the refuse. If there was a problem during heavy rains, he was there to clean the gutters and make sure that the water flowed freely.
Harold took care of the Ice rinks in the winter and made sure you had nice clean ice, that wasn't bumpy. I don't even know if he is still living, but If he isn't I am sorry I waited to long to give him his dues for the wonderful job he did for us in Morningside.
In 1966 when we became part of Edina I was very disappointed. Even though I went through all of the Edina School systems programs and played in all the sports systems, I was sorry to see us lose our Independence from the much larger and more wealthy community. It is time that we celebrate the people that made Morningside so strong and Independent.
Harold, my hat of to you and thank you for the wonderful years of SERVICE.
Who made a big impact on Edina? Share your thoughts by emailing me or commenting here. Help us make sure we gather information about the people who had the biggest influence on Edina.
These men are Odd Fellows.
Note the capital letters. They are not odd fellows, but Odd Fellows as in the "International Order of Odd Fellows," a fraternal organization that dates back several centuries.
These men belonged to the local chapter, Golden Link Lodge No. 167. According to the St. Louis Park Historical Society, it "appears to be a consolidated Lodge that covered the entire metropolitan area, since officers were from Minneapolis, St. Paul, Mound, and Spring Lake Park."
The headquarters of this group was at 4388 France Avenue in Edina, the building located in the northwest corner of 44th and France. In this circa 1950s photo, Hawkins Confectionery and Morningside Grocery & Meats also occupies the building.
This is the current Google maps street view of the building. Although there have been some updates over the years, it still looks much the same as it did when it was built in 1918.
Here's a closer look at the Odd Fellows sign above the door to the stairway to their second floor meeting hall.
Not only did the Odd Fellows meet here, but the rest of the neighborhood also found uses for the space. As Dudley Parsons, Sr. wrote in his Feb. 27, 1920 "Morningsider" column in Lake Harriet News:
"The Odd Fellows’ Hall on France Avenue and 44th Street is a community center of increasing usefulness. Not only are the lodge meetings and social functions held there but regular Saturday afternoon dancing classes, neighborhood parties and entertainments, and the service of the Morningside Church and Sunday School. The Hall is equipped with kitchen accommodations and has a stage for amateur dramatic performances. There is a commodious reception room and there are two other rooms available. The Hall is occupied nearly every night in the week."
It was here in 1920 that Morningside residents met to discuss seceding from Edina, and later where the Village of Morningside council held its meetings.
The organization itself was "known affectionately as the 'Oofs,' wrote Parsons in his November 19, 1936, column, noting the importance of the lodge in creating a sense of neighborliness. "For a quarter of a century it has been gathering weekly – and sometimes oftener – two score of the neighbors in pleasant social business and pastime. I suppose that fully a hundred families have been represented in these gatherings – lodge meetings, lectures or dancing parties. It is very doubtful that ever a member of these families is ill or unfortunate without the intelligent sympathy of the others, and many an hour of pain and grief has been lessened in its intensity by the comfort of this ministration. I am the right person to say this because I have never been a member of any lodge..."
According to Minneapolis Tribune stories, the Golden Link Lodge met in other cities prior to 1920. Their name is listed in local phone directories until at least 1967.
Were you an "Oof," as Parsons would say? Did you go to one of the dances or other community gatherings in the meeting hall? Please share your memories with us by commenting here or emailing me.
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.
The Edina Historical Society co-sponsored a walking tour of western Morningside and Browndale Park on Tuesday (July 10). I love walking tours. Let me count the ways. Here are just a few reasons:
1. The people. Oh, I know. Historic walking tours focus on houses, but I love talking to the people who show up:
People who grew up in the neighborhood. People who live here now. People like Burt Grimes, whose ancestor Jonathan Grimes owned nearly all of Morningside in the late 1800s. People like Kate Q. who grew up in one of the first homes built after Grimes' property was platted.
2. The publicity. Forty people walking down the street captures the entire neighborhood's attention -- much more so than a 40-person event inside a building. I felt like our tour guides were the "Pied Pipers" of history, as their talk brought people out on their lawns to hear about the history of their home and neighborhood. On past walking tours (with cooler temps), our tour group grew as more and more people joined in.
3. Special access. This beautiful house is partially obscured by hedges and tall catalpa trees (built by Grimes as a horticultural experiment to introduce non-native shade trees.) With permission from the current owner (an Edina Historical Society member), our tour walked onto the private yard to get a closer look at the private residence of Browndale Park developer George Dartt.
4. The great outdoors. Let's face it, history work often means sifting through research files and cataloging and cleaning dusty old artifacts. Walking through a beautiful neighborhood on a sunny summer evening makes a nice change of pace. I've read about George Dart's home here in the historic Minneapolis Tribune, but seeing the showcase home in person adds another dimension of knowledge.
5. The partnerships. We worked with the Edina Heritage Preservation Board on the tour. Architect Peter Sussman (light blue shirt below) from the HPB Board led the tour....
... along with HPB consultant Bob Vogel (baseball cap below).
St. Louis Park Historical Society provided research materials and support as well. The Morningside Neighborhood Association and the Edina-Morningside Women's Club helped publicize the event. Everyone brought a different area of expertise, and I loved hearing their perspectives.
5. Spontaneity. This lovely home was not a scheduled stop on the tour, but the owner happened to be outside and graciously answered our questions. During the last tour, one homeowner provided an abstract to their property. Another offered lemonade.
I suppose I could have categorized each one of these reasons under the first one: "the people." While walking tours do focus on houses, people really make the difference between a good tour and a great one. Thank you to those who led the tour, provided information, allowed us access, participated, and spread the word.
We're working on future walking tours. If you would like to be put on our event email list, please email me with "walking tours" in the subject line.
This is the second post in a series on the history of neighborhood names in Edina. (See the first on Morningside here.) The City of Edina has formed a Neighborhood Identification Steering Committee to determine neighborhood names and borders. For more on that group, see the city's Name Your Neighborhood Blog.
City's blog icon
I've booked a hotel room on Lakefront Avenue and never glimpsed water. I've seen a Pleasant View Road without one. And, I've noticed, many flower-named streets don't have blooms lining the boulevards. Let's face it, many streets and neighborhoods don't live up to their names.
White Oaks neighborhood in Edina does. White Oaks actually has white oaks. The woods, marsh and hilly terrain in the area north and west of 49th and France give the neighborhood a character much different than its neighbors: Country Club District to the west and Morningside to the north.
I don't need to give you the borders of the neighborhood; you can easily guess them by looking at the Google aerial view (below). Surrounded by a grid of streets, White Oaks is distinct with its winding roads and woods.
When Samuel Thorpe purchased land to develop the Country Club District in 1922, he reportedly was not interested the wooded, hilly land to the east because it was much harder to develop than the level open fields of Browndale Farm on the banks of Minnehaha Creek.
This map depicts how Nancy Wallace Wild recalled the area when she was growing up on 50th Street before her neighborhood was developed.The "big hill for sliding" and the swampy area made great play areas for children, but not great residential lots.
By 1936, construction equipment had advanced enough that J. Frank Ecklund, a Sears Roebuck executive who dabbled in real estate, purchased the land for development. He made a key decision: instead of leveling the hills and clear-cutting the trees, he created a plan designed to "preserv(e) the area's rugged topography, mature trees and natural feel," according to History of the White Oaks Neighborhood.
In 1940, Ecklund and his wife Catherine (Kay) took further steps to ensure that the open meadow and lowlands remain natural. First, the Ecklunds encouraged the creation of a non-profit volunteer-based White Oaks Improvement Association (WOIA). They then deeded 3.5 acres circled by Meadow Road and 48th Street to WOIA for a park and also deeded 1.5 acre marsh near the Sunnyside Road entrance to the Village of Edina with the stipulation that it remain undeveloped.
In 1986, when an empty lot adjacent to the marsh was slated for development, the neighborhood rallied with a "Save the Marsh" campaign. They raised $20,000 to purchase the property from the developer, and the City of Edina contributed another $20,000 to preserve the land.
At the neighborhood association's 50th anniversary in 1990, Kay Ecklund was honored for her "preservation and foresight in the development of one of the earliest and most beautiful plattings utilizing natural rugged topography and trees." The White Oaks Improvement Association continues to plant trees.
Photos of the neighborhood from our collection show the rolling terrain and trees. Look behind the children in the photograph below and you'll see the mature trees in the new neighborhood. This photo was taken in 1941 (about five years after White Oaks was platted) of residents Mary MacPhail, Richard E. Larson, Margaret Schimer and Phillip Larson. As you can see, the trees provided plenty of leaves for play.
The Schimer family's first house in White Oaks was at 4704 Townes Road. Pictured here in 1939, the land has towering trees in the front yard.
Dear Wooddale School students,
I pulled these out of our photo collection after a few visitors mentioned the school murals after exclaiming over the Wooddale auditorium door, front doors, auditorium seats and other pieces from the now-demolished Edina school that are now housed in our exhibit rooms.
Tell me more about these paintings. We probably have info in the files, but since it's PHOTO Friday, I'll provide the photos and you provide the text.
The school, torn down in 1985, was located at the northwest corner of 50th and Wooddale, the site of Wooddale Park today. Opened in 1926, Wooddale -- along with Morningside School -- were the only schools in Edina for many decades. Although generations of residents fondly remember Wooddale, younger residents have no knowledge of the school, which has been gone for more than 25 years. Keep the memory alive and please comment here or email me.
Happy Friday! Enjoy the first weekend of summer vacation.
Please support the blog by becoming a member and/or joining us for the Peterson Family benefit concert on June 14.
If you need more visuals to prompt your memories, see this 11-minute YouTube video uploaded by former Wooddale student Juli Wunder Simmons. The murals appear around the 4:15 mark.
Today is a perfect day to go to an amusement park, don't you think? Beautiful blue Minnesota skies, high 70s, cool breeze... If only we all could play hooky and ride on a roller coaster or four and eat a funnel cake for lunch.
Besides the summer like weather, I can attribute my mood to the serendipitous coincidence of finding out that Valleyfair is now open for the season on the same day I saw this 1948 ad for Excelsior Amusement Park in our files.
I wasn't researching Excelsior, but the ad appeared alongside a news clipping from the June 17, 1948 issue of the Edina-Morningside Suburban Press.
If you grew up between 1925 and 1968 in the Twin Cities, you probably went to Excelsior for summer fun (unless you were the children of my parents, who thought the place was too run down in the late 60s for little kids.)
They may have been right. Excelsior was a teen hangout in the 1960s, thanks in no small part to its Danceland, that booked such big name acts as the Beach Boys and the Rolling Stones. You can read more about the history on the sites listed below, but let's just say cops were called out to the place with some regularity to establish order.
Even if you can't sneak out this afternoon, why not take a virtual trip to the bygone days of Excelsior Amusement Park by checking out these links:
As always, I love to live vicariously. Tell me about your fun days at Excelsior Amusement Park or any other memory this story brings to mind. Comment here or email me.
When I was growing up, my mom would send my brothers and me to the little corner store to pick up a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread if she ran out between her weekly trips to the bigger supermarket downtown.
"The Little Store," as we called it (although that was not its real name), stocked the necessities along with penny candy and pop for the youngsters enlisted for the marketing errands. The store looked like a house, but the owners lived upstairs and operated the business on the first floor.
What store am I talking about?
Brookside area residents would probably say Docken's store, but those near Cahill might think of Cameron's. Tedman's might come to mind for those living near Valley View Road (although the owners lived behind the store, not above it.) Those who lived near the Minneapolis border might venture to Ray's Dairy store, while Morningsiders had Morningside Grocery near the northwest corner of 44th and France.
The answer: none of the above. I didn't grow up in Edina, but as you can see, the description fits nearly every little corner store that operated until 1970s or so, when two-car families became the norm and Mom could run her own errands or Dad could pick up the essentials at the gas station on his way home from work.
Docken's Community Store (as it is named in the Edina phone directories) was in a house at 4356 (later renumbered to 4360) Brookside Avenue, just north of the streetcar tracks that ran along 44th Street, making it an easy destination for commuters coming home after work. Arthur and Lila Docken operated the store from at least 1926 to 1949, when it was purchased by Jon and Eloise Garner. (Many customers pronounced the name "Gardener's" or "Gartner's," having only heard the name and not seen it spelled.)
Now the site of the Brookside Court condominiums (built in 1965), the house/store was located on the northwest corner of Brookside Avenue and 44th Street.
Jeanne Anderson from the St. Louis Park Historical Society researched the Dockens and the store, which was important to the Brookside neighborhood on both sides of the SLP-Edina border. She writes, "The Dockens reportedly owned all the land behind the store, down to the creek. People could pay a fee and picnic on the site and swim in the swimming hole upstream from the CP Rail trestle over the creek. The Dockens also kept horses on the property. The undated photo above shows two houses side by side on the property. The store itself is not pictured and would have been toward the left. Edina directories list six separate addresses on the block, although one or more of the buildings may have been a duplex."
The Garners closed up shop in 1957 or 1958, perhaps as a result of a loss of business following the end of the streetcar operation in 1954.
Unidentified woman, possibly Mickey Docken.
Those are just the highlights of the story. Prompted by questions from a researcher, Jeanne recently came over to the museum and we looked through directories and our files, as well as online newspapers to find more.
Turns out the Dockens have a long history in Edina. A society note in the Minneapolis Journal dated August 18, 1905, lists a Miss Docken as a guest at a party given by Miss M. Blanche Craik for bride-to-be Mabel Millam. Craik and Millam were names associated with the Edina Mill.
Arthur Docken had a feed store in Hopkins prior to opening his Brookside market. His children attended St. Louis Park Schools. During her junior year at the University of Minnesota, daughter Lila Agnes "Mickey" Docken was selected to be a stewardess for American Airlines. She died on January 10, 1945 in a plane crash five miles north of Lockheed Air Terminal in Burbank, California. She and the pilot, along with 21 passengers, all members of the armed forces, lost their lives.
For more information, see the St. Louis Park Historical Society web site. Jeanne also was kind enough to share her research for our files, so come on in if you want to know more. Our research is a "work in progress" and we can always learn more. Help us out. Do you know more about the Dockens or the Garners? Share your knowledge by commenting here or emailing me.
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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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Help us bring you Edina history with this web site by becoming a member or donating today. Click on the link to our GiveMN.org site to make a donation with a credit card. The Edina Historical Society is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that depends on contributions to continue operation.