"In 1964, construction of a second junior high, Valley View Junior High, began. The school got its name from the fact that it sat on top of a hill and overlooked a valley. Construction was slowed during the early phases because several unmarked graves were found on the site and needed to be moved and re-buried. However, the school opened on time in September 1964."
That Wikipedia entry for Edina Public School raised all sorts of questions for former student Tom Berg. "An unmarked cemetery? I have always wondered who the graves were related to- settlers or Dakota/native Americans? How old were the bodies/were they modern graves? Where were they reburied? What cemetery - with no names? ****Where on the school campus grounds were they originally found?***** ANYONE KNOW THE STORY/HISTORY?" he asked fellow followers of the "You know you're from Edina when..." Facebook page.
We can answer most of those questions. And by "we," I mean Frank Cardarelle, second-generation Edina surveyor and member of our board. He's my go-to guy to answer any property-related questions, and sure enough, he knew what happened because he was there surveying the property at the time.
"I was out staking the property and Danens (Excavation) was out grading when we hear from the neighbor that children were buried there. So everything stopped," Cardarelle remembered.
This sounds pretty sinister, but in fact, many pioneer landowners had small family cemeteries on their property, with graves often marked by a simple pile of stones or homemade wooden cross. Local cemeteries weren't established in the 1880s or were too far away for easy transport of the bodies. And unfortunately, children accounted for a high number of deaths in this time period.
Remember that this was an age before childhood vaccinations. Diseases practically eliminated by 2000 -- diphtheria, and pertussis, measles -- killed thousands of children each year before 1900. Death was much more commonplace among the young in 1900: 165 deaths per 1,000 births in 1900 compared to 7 per 1,000 in 1997. (Source: PBS The First Measured Century)
The land that became Valley View Junior High belonged to Ernie Davis, whose ancestors owned the land as far back as 1898. Cardarelle remembers that the bodies were pioneer children, and that the grave sites were on the western edge of the property near Valley View Road. Construction halted while authorities located and moved the graves. Cardarelle doesn't know where they were moved.
Someone with time to research could look through the spring of 1964 newspapers from Minneapolis or Edina to see if a news article provides more details. That decade is not digitized, so research requires hours of sitting and reading microfiche. If you're up for the task, contact me!
While these graves were located and moved, many old cemeteries get bulldozed or lost during development or even when old farms get new owners. (See MPR story "Pioneer cemeteries fall under plow's threat.")
Do you have a "history mystery" and want some answers? Comment here or email me with your question. I probably won't know the answer off the top of my head, but I have thousands of documents and photos and interesting people like Frank Cardarelle to consult.
I love the current "Edina on the Map" exhibit because it has helped spotlight neighborhoods that have been "too new" for the historical record to take much notice. Highlands, with its first addition offered for sale in 1948, was still being developed in 1950s and 1960s. Compared with Morningside, once a separate village and platted more than 100 years ago, Highlands seems to have a relatively short and uneventful history.
Drive through Highlands today, and you'll see historic changes taking place. Many of the original ramblers have been torn down and replaced by new construction. That's why I'm grateful to former and current residents who have donated artifacts that document the period in Edina history that will soon be lost to redevelopment.
After seeing the original real estate brochure for Highlands in our exhibit, Paul Trautman and his sister Jean offered to send photos of their family home at 5245 Lochloy built in 1952 by their parents Lucius and Jean Trautman. The home is a perfect example of what the brochure touted as the "trend home" for modern living.
The house was designed by James H. Speckmann, a Minnesota proponent of California Modernism, a design style with an "open ground-level floor plan, big floor-to-ceiling windows, and wide roof overhangs. All of that is meant to bring the outdoors in."
The Trautman home, with a new owner, still stands with the exterior design intact. The surrounding area is more developed, however, than when the Trautmans first moved here in 1952. Paul remembers the house in the background of the photo below as being "a short walk of a steep hill ... it is probably a three-mile drive to that house. The Watson lived there and they eventually took ownership of Freckles when Dad refused to bail him out from the dog catcher after several incarcerations. That was OK though because he still came and played with us and the Watsons had to feed him."
With its naturally hilly terrain, the Highlands neighborhood was well suited to ramblers with walkout basements. That's Paul and Freckles near the breezeway in the photo below.
Highlands offered high-end homes for the era. Many of the homeowners were like Lucius Trautman, executives commuting to Minneapolis jobs. Trautman was one of the owners of Minneapolis Artificial Limb Company, which has a long history in the state.
Do you have Edina home photos to share? In addition to the Trautman house, we featured Alden Drive photos from the Parsons family here. We'd love to feature your home as well. Email me or call the museum at 612-928-4577 to find out how.
We played New York and Los Angeles and so many small college towns in between. We had a joke at the time -- "that town's so small John Denver's never played there." - Bill Danoff, friend and part of Denver's opening act Fat City
John Denver performed at Edina High School in the 1969-1970 school year.
Before you think that's so stereotypical Edina to book one of the top-selling artists in history, keep in mind that in 1969, John Denver was barely known. He most likely performed for free or for the opportunity to sell his albums. And based on yearbook coverage, Edina kids apparently didn't think it was a big deal at the time. The concert merited one photo (below) with no caption or further explanation.
By 1971, Denver was a household name -- in part because he played in so many small towns to build an audience in 1969 and 1970. Edina High School was hardly unique in hosting John Denver, according to this source:
"Although RCA did not actively promote Rhymes & Reasons with a tour, Denver himself embarked on an impromptu supporting tour throughout the Midwest, stopping at towns and cities as the fashion took him, offering to play free concerts at local venues. When he was successful in persuading a school, college, American Legion Hall, or local coffee-house to let him play, he would spend a day or so distributing posters in the town and could usually be counted upon to show up at the local radio station, guitar in hand, offering himself for an interview."
Edina does have one small role in Denver's career. On his way to stardom, Denver lived in Edina and wrote much of the material for his first three albums here, including his first No. 1 song, "Sunshine on My Shoulders," according to Denver's obituary written by StarTribune writer Jon Bream.
For those who weren't around in the 1974 when this song hit No. 1 on the charts, here it is. (From the John Denver Archives on YouTube) For those who were around in the 1970s, this song is no doubt burned in your memories because of its constant play.
Minnesota weather inspired the song, Denver told Bream. "It was one of those late-winter early-spring days. It was one of those cold, dreary days where everything is gray," he said. "Spring is in fact happening. That's why the song is slow and melancholy."
Several sources say that Denver and his wife Ann Martell Denver made an Edina apartment their home base while Denver was on the road from 1968 to 1971. Our phone directories from that period don't list Denver, Martell or Denver's birth name Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr., so I'm guessing that he had an unlisted phone number even though he hadn't hit super stardom yet. Anyone know where he lived? (I've heard several theories.)
How did Denver, who is most associated with his adopted state of Colorado, happen to live in Minnesota?
He married a St. Peter girl Ann Martell, whom he met while on tour in 1966. "After a concert at Gustavus Adolphus College, he spotted a pretty sophomore in the student union. 'I wore blue jeans, lumberjack shirt and penny loafers. John later told me he fell in love on the spot,' recounts Annie. But it wasn't until a year later, when John was giving a concert 10 miles away, that they had their first date," People magazine reported in 1979.
The interview with the couple revealed that their years in Minnesota were not easy because of John's long absences while he toured. On top of that, John went from "obscure folkie" when they first met to an artist with gold albums, TV specials and even a part in a movie.
The change was not without benefits - the couple built their dream house in Colorado and started a family. While Annie kept the home fires burning, Denver returned to Minnesota several times for concerts. This time, instead of high school gymnasiums or college student unions, he filled the St. Paul Civic Center five times in one year, the Minneapolis Tribune reported on May 11, 1975.
Do you know where John and Annie Denver lived in Edina? Were you in the audience when Denver performed at Edina High School? Was it a bigger deal than the yearbook coverage suggests? If you can fill in the gaps of John Denver's Edina history, please email me or comment here.
Who bowled at Gus Young's? Apparently everyone, according to "Twin City Tenpin," a small newspaper on file at the Minnesota Historical Society.
The bowling alley and billiards hall at 4101 West 50th Street brought in more than 3,150 bowlers each week, said the Oct. 22, 1964 issue of the now defunct publication. Gus Young was quoted as having more than 700 teams involved in 60 leagues.
"It is Gus' belief that he has more women's leagues than any other house in the city," the story states. Perhaps because he offered child care on site.
Approximately 128 youngsters take to the lanes every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday "under the direction of four capable instructors and coaches:" Dave Goggins, Junior Boys; Grace Chelman, Junior Girls; June Nelson, Junior Girls; and Alfreda Addy, Bantam Boys. Gus also sponsored a Junior Traveling League.
The bowling alley also had a snack bar and restaurant, with everything from "just light snacks to a full course meal, prepared for you exactly as you like it. Beer and other beverages are available on order."
Gus Young was most notably a basketball coach at Gustavus Adolphus College (1949-1957), but throughout the years he also spent time bowling and owning bowling alleys.
Gus Young's entry into the bowling business began when he was head of intramural activities at Carleton College. Because he had to ferry kids to the closest bowling alley in Faribault from Northfield, he ended up being late for a date with his girlfriend Evelyn (who later became his wife.) Evelyn suggested opening up a bowling alley in Northfield, so Gus did. He was proprieter of the Varsity Bowl until 1943 when he joined the Navy during World War II.
In 1957, he bought the Austin Bowl that he later sold to open Biltmore Lanes in 1959. I haven't researched when the bowling alley closed, but I do know Gus Young died in 1977.
Thanks to Jeanne Andersen, friend and colleague at the St. Louis Park Historical Society, for bringing in the photocopied story.
Meet Bob Buresh, who started as an Edina volunteer firefighter when he was just an 18-year-old high school senior and retired as the city's Public Safety Chief, heading both the police and fire departments.
Not a bad career path for someone who got involved with the Fire Department as a Boy Scout, along with his friend Bill Feck, another Edina boy who became Fire Chief. They both joined the U.S. Air Force together in 1951 but returned to the department as volunteers after the service. Bob took a job as a full-time firefighter in 1957 and then worked his way "up the ladder," so to speak, getting promoted to lieutenant in 1963, to captain in 1967, to assistant fire chief in 1968, and chief in 1975. He retired in 1987.
The history of his career -- and the Edina Fire Department -- is told through these artifacts that Buresh donated last week. The 35 items include firefighting turnout gear, his dress uniform blazer and hat, as well as badges, pins, nametags, photo ID card and Village of Edina business cards.
Here's a closer look at a few of the items. Do you notice that some pins have one horn, while others have two or three? As I learned when creating an exhibit with the police and fire departments a few years ago, the horns indicate rank, with one signifying lieutenant, two for captain, three for assistant chief and four for chief. Bob accumulated quite a collection during his long career.
(Can you see Bob's height on his Village of Edina identification badge? He still stands straight and tall at 6-foot-4.)
Bob wore this hat (decorated with the three horns) when he was assistant chief. The dress blazer also indicates rank, with three stars on one sleeve.
I especially like the turnout gear -- the protective clothing worn while fighting fires. Both the coat and the hat look like they've been through a few battles.
Bob also served as head of the Minnesota Fire Chiefs Association, which worked to get a firefighter's memorial at the Minnesota Capitol. This is replica, the first in a series of 700. The firefighter wears No. 10 on his hat, the same number as Bob's when he was Edina chief.
Several years ago, one of our volunteers Bob Reid did an oral history with Bob Buresh and other fire chiefs to get a history of the department. I think it's time for another interview, this time to focus in on Buresh's childhood. Bob had some great stories to tell about ski jumping as a kid in Edina.
"You mean the one at Hyland Park in Bloomington?" I asked.
Nope, the one off Skyline Drive in Edina in the late 1930s, he said, when the area still was undeveloped countryside.
The news even surprised one of our board members Bob Kojetin, who never heard tales of an Edina ski jump while he was Park and Rec Director, albeit decades later.
(Yes, there are three Bobs in this story, in case you're counting: Bob Reid, Bob Buresh and Bob Kojetin.)
Now that you've met Bob Buresh, I'm sure you'll see more of him as we find out more about these great Edina Fire Department artifacts and hear more stories about growing up in Edina.
Don't be fooled by the "Minneapolis" in the Biltmore Motor Hotel's advertising literature. The Edina motel was actually located on today's Vernon Avenue (now the site of condominiums at 5250 Vernon) Built in 1954, the hotel served many Edina newcomers, who stayed at the Biltmore while they waited for their new ramblers to be built during the village's suburban boom.
After the Vikings and Twins came to town in the 1960s, the Biltmore also advertised its convenient location to Met Stadium, as you can see in the advertising brochure below.
Here's another page of the brochure that shows the interior: rooms, coffee shop and convention facilities.
Harold Adolphsen, who later owned Hopkins House, attributed the success of his motel to consistent advertising with brochures like these. He and his wife Carolyn, who ran the hotel's gift shop, donated this brochure and other artifacts to us several years ago.
The Biltmore closed in 1984, but with 30 years as a Edina mainstay, many generations remember dining, dancing and swimming at the Biltmore.
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:
You couldn't open a newspaper in early April without seeing a story about the death of Jerry Paulsen, owner of several Edina businesses including Jerry's Foods, Jerry's Hardware and Jerry's Printing.
But unless you're one of Jerry's 3,700 employees, you probably missed one of the most in-depth looks at Jerry's long life and involvement in the Edina community: a full issue of the company newsletter was devoted to the man who gave his life and his name to so many businesses.
"I felt I couldn’t do him justice with just an article in the newsletter so decided to devote the entire edition to him," said Carol Jackson, Jerry's Foods Corporate Manager.
The newsletter is in our collection, but I've had so many requests to see more Jerry's photos that I asked Carol for a pdf for our online audience. See the photo pages below, and you can read the full newsletter here.
These are just a few of the stories written about Jerry Paulsen, who died April 5, 2013, at age 89.
Tim Layeux, like many other people, regularly haunts garage sales and estate sales for treasures. While most others look to add something to their own collections, Tim keeps an eye out for items for local historical societies.
Tim has brought us books by local authors, old yearbooks, Hornet and Cougar emblazoned clothing, advertising from long-gone local businesses and more. He also is a regular donor to surrounding historical societies.
A lifelong Edina resident, Tim can spot items that have local ties, even if the connection wouldn't be immediately obvious to others.
One of his recent finds: this tweed jacket. While it's in pretty decent shape, we would have no need for it in our collection except for one teeny thing: the label inside and the story that goes with it.
The label shows that the jacket was sold at Belleson's in Edina. Men's clothing doesn't change that much, at least to my female uneducated eye, but everything from the font to the wording on the label made me believe that the jacket was more than a few decades old.
I called Belleson's, which is still going strong at 50th and France, just a few doors down from its original location where Wes Belleson opened the store in 1948. He sold the business to his employees in 1975. Staff confirmed my suspicion that the store had long since quit using Wes' first name on its labels.
My internet search and Belleson's also verified that Griffon Clothes was no longer in business. I did see 1940s and 1950s vintage Griffon label jackets for sale on Ebay -- think "Mad Men" styled suits -- but nothing more recent.
The label's "Edina Minneapolis" (rather than Minnesota) reference is also telling. Before Southdale opened in 1956, many Edina businesses listed their location as Minneapolis, in part because of areas of Edina have Minneapolis zip codes and in part because Edina was not yet well-known. Until 1949, Edina didn't even have a high school to give it a unique identity in the metro area.
In my search for information, I found out that Wes Belleson took part in the D-Day invasion at Normandy.. I knew from our files that Wes opened his store after returning from the war, but I didn't know the details.of his military record that includes more than 30 missions as a tail gunner in in B-24 bomber.
Wes is now 90 years old and living in Florida. He just gave a great interview about his war service, so I hope to chat with him soon about his Edina roots.
I'm not done with my research, but I do know that a suit is just a suit. But a suit with a story -- now that's a garage sale find worth saving.
For more reading, see:
When I looked at this photo, I immediately thought of the classic summer baseball movie, "The Sandlot." The movie takes place in the summer of 1962; this photo is from the summer of 1961. But our boys don't look like the rag tag group of misfits who play with hand-me-down equipment in an empty lot. Thanks to sponsorship from Donaldson's department store at Southdale, Edina boys had sharp-looking uniforms. (Yes, like the snooty rival team in "The Sandlot.") But don't hold their sharp-dressed looks against them. They turned out just fine.
They are: (front row) Pat Carr, Tom Keegan, Skip Thomas, Roger Viendahle, Fred Heiser.(back row) George Diehl, Roy Carr, Gordie Alexander, Brian Gockley, Terry Mikan, Jay Bennet, and Tom Marra.
You probably recognize a few names in there. Terry Mikan is the son of famed basketball player George Mikan, who lived with his family at 5520 Knoll Drive. Skip Thomas, a local realtor and a new member of our board, donated the photo, and I thank his mom for writing the names on the back of the picture so we can identify those boys today.
Before you ask, I'll tell you that we don't have an entire collection of baseball team photos through the years. We have photos donated here and there as well as a few years stuck in a Park and Rec scrapbook. We'd love to have photos of any of the Edina sports teams, as well as action shots. Pleaseemail me if you have photos to share or comment here if you have stories to tell from playing baseball in Edina. (Please tell me there was a huge dog that stole baseballs or that you had batting practice with your dad's prized autographed ball.)
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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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