This is the view out my window of the Edina History Museum at Arneson Acres Park. The landscape changes from a winter wonderland to a riot of colors every year, thanks to the work of the Edina Garden Council and City Horticulturist Tim Zimmerman and his crew. These are just a few of the 28 flower beds in the park; my view doesn't take in the mall of flowers in the lower parking lot by the gazebo or the new Monarch garden just out of the frame to the left.
Sigh with me. All I have to do to relieve stress is look out my window, or if I'm feeling ambitious, stroll through the 14 acres just outside my door. Come visit the museum during regular museum hours this summer and allow some time to see the amazing flowers while you're here.
I was glad to see that the Edina Garden Council was among the garden clubs featured in today's StarTribune: "Twin Cities garden clubs retool for a new generation." EGC celebrated its 60th anniversary in December 2013 and has survived because of its efforts to change with the times. In the 1950s, EGC members enjoyed flower arranging lectures; now, the group is more interested in growing native plants. For more on the history of the club, see this timeline put together by one of its members Elizabeth Franklin. I also wrote this story for Edina Magazine on the 60-year history of EGC.
The Edina History Museum is located in Arneson Acres, one of the most beautiful places in Edina.
I might be biased, since my office overlooks the Edina park, but I'm not the only one who thinks so.
Many professional photographers love our park's 28 gorgeous gardens, fountain and almost 14-acres of green space for their portraits of wedding parties, families, prom dates and engaged couples.
Doesn't the fountain make a great backdrop for this photo by Shelly Paulson Photography? "The wind inspired a great moment here!" she wrote on her blog. (I love the candid photo of the bridal party laughing at the flying veil.)
Here's the fountain from a different perspective for the bride and groom portrait. So pretty.
While some couples only stop in Arneson Acres for only a photo session, many also hold their ceremony here. This one, shot by Snowfrog Photography, was set up by the fountain. I've also seen weddings in the gazebo, on the terrace and under an archway of flowers.
The park offers a variety of settings for all kinds of photos. Sarah Syhakoun Photography took advantage of Arneson Acres' mall of flowers for this portrait.
While spring and summer are peak times for flowers -- and portraits -- I've seen groups pose for pictures during the fall and winter as well. Families often shoot their casual Christmas card photos here.
Photographer Teresa Hermes noted in her blog that the park was a perfect place for a two-year-old to run off excess energy -- just look at his happy face in his portrait session.
One of my favorite parts of the park is a simple little garden that greets me when I walk into work (photo at right). Bright moss roses and lilies line the steps to the museum's front door.
Tim Zimmerman, horticulturalist with the city, and his crew weed and water, mow and nurture the gardens.
A garden that I don't have to weed or water? Let me amend my first statement: Arneson Acres is not "one of" the most beautiful places in Edina. It ranks firmly at the top of the list.
What do you think is the most beautiful spot in Edina? What are other favorite spots for wedding and prom photos? Comment here and/oremail me your photos showing the locations and I'll post them here.
I had a great view of winter when I looked out my office window this morning.
Too bad it's spring.
Yes, for those of you Edina snowbirds basking in the sun, your hometown experienced a snowstorm this morning. I'll leave it to the meteorologists to review past records, but based on news reports last night (and some hazy memories), spring snowstorms aren't that unusual historically. This is Minnesota, after all. We're used to a little bad weather.
Amidst some complaining via Twitter, students attended school as usual. Traffic moved -- albeit slowly -- along Highway 100. Edina snowplow drivers had the roads cleared and lived up their stellar reputation.
Near midday, the snow paused. People walked in the winter -- uh, make that spring -- wonderland of Arneson Acres Park.
Visitors even made it to the museum to see "Growing Up in Edina: A Show and Tell Exhibit" before it closes April 27. And I assisted a researcher, who was looking through our Park and Rec files.
Somewhat ironically, we found this story on indoor Edinborough Park in the Sunday Magazine section of the Star Tribune, Oct. 25, 1987.
The cover photo showed how our definition of winter might change, now that we had a warm park all year around.
Just for fun, we changed things around a little to reflect the snowstorm today.
See what we did there? Happy spring, 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.
_Before Arneson Acres housed the Edina History Museum, it was the home of Mort and Katherin Arneson. Their sprawling acreage had trees and plants they sold at their St. Louis Park nursery, a greenhouse and a fabulous sliding hill right outside their door. For many years, the Arnesons welcomed children to slide on their hill.
Today, Arneson Acres is a 14-acre city park better known for its beautiful gardens, but it is also a great place for all kinds of winter activities. Children still find the Arnesons' hill irresistible for sledding!
In the spirit of the Arnesons, the Edina History Museum will open its doors the first three Saturdays in February: 4, 11, 18. Sled down the hill, strap on your cross country skis or snowshoes, or enjoy a quiet walk around the park, and then stop in the lower-level Terrace Room to warm up before the fireplace. Enjoy hot chocolate and treats, and visit the museum exhibit rooms. Free. 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
One of our volunteers recently came across a newspaper clipping about Mort Arneson's practice of allowing neighborhood children to sled on his property while he vacationed in Florida every year. The Edina Courier published this story on the front page of the Nov. 9, 1967, issue:
Residents of the 70th Street and Normandale Road area presented Morten Arneson with a plaque for his "generosity in allowing the freedom and enjoyment of 'Arneson Acres' to the children of the following neighborhood families: G.T. Armstrong, MB. Blair, A.W. Brunsell, J.W. Buckley, D. L. Budolfson, D. O. Comb, W.C. Corwin, D. Giovanelli, J. L. Kamiske, Dr. M.F. Lynch, J. D. Murphy, K. Priebe, Dr. P.J. Scanlan, J. L. Sowle and J.C. Verdorn."
Now, as then, children flock to Arneson Acres for winter fun. Although the hill is brown now, I hope it is snow-covered by our February sledding parties. As the news story says, "Once the snow flies, sleds and skis will abound throughout 'Arneson Acres.'"
George Fortwingler (seated, right) is pictured with his second wife Ursula (seated, left). Their children are Emma (standing between them) and Ethel Mary seated. Ursula is pregnant with their third child, Hazel. George's children by his first wife A. Reisslei, who died, are two sets of twins (back row): Julian, George, Julius and Caroline.
The Fortwingler name is probably not as familiar as most other pioneer families, such as the Bulls, Bairds, McCauleys and Delaneys. Unlike those families whose many descendants stayed in Edina, the Fortwinglers made their home here for one just generation.
Still, the Fortwinglers owned one of the larger properties in Edina for 22 years. From 1876 to 1898, the Fortwinglers owned a 267-acre farm bordered by Highway 100 to the west, 70th Street to the north, 78th Street to the south and West Shore Drive and Kelllogg Avenue to the east.
Yes, the Edina History Museum, Arneson Acres Park and Lake Edina of today are located within those boundaries.
Here is the Google map of the property today:
Here is the 1898 map. 70th Street is at the top border. Cahill Road is the street running north and south at left. Nine Mile Creek is shown to the left of the Fortwingler property.
Thanks to a Fortwingler descendant David Cassin, we have the photo and story of the family. Patriarch George R. Fortwingler had a circuitous journey that took him from Baden, Germany, to Edina.
Born on Nov. 28, 1823, George most likely fought in the German Revolution of 1848. In that conflict, he was seriously injured and left for dead when slashed across the forehead by the saber of a mounted horseman.
He immigrated to the United States in 1854 and lived in Ohio for a one year before moving to St. Paul, MN. He had two sets of twins with his first wife A. Reisslei: George and Caroline in 1856 and Julius and Julian in 1860.
According to Cassin, one day while Mrs. Fortwingler was working at home, she became frightened by some Indians and accidentally overturned a kettle of boiling water, which scalded her to death.
In 1864, George married a 19-year-old mail order bride, Ursula O. Renz, from his home of Baden. He had four children age 8 and under at the time.
The family moved in 1866 to Bloomington, MN, where George owned the "Half-way House" hotel, which was at the intersection of Old Shakopee Trail and Nine Mile Creek. The hotel was so named because it was located halfway along Old Shakopee Trail between Fort Snelling and Shakopee. Likewise, Nine Mile Creek got is name from being nine miles along Old Shakopee Trail.
Two years later the couple bought an 80-acre farm where Washburn Elementary is now located (bordered by 8th Street, 86th Street, Xerxes Ave and Penn). They had three children: Emma (b. 1870), Ethel Mary (b. 1871) and Hazel E. (b. 1878).
In 1876, the family moved to Edina and lived there until 1898. By this time, the oldest son George Jr. had died in a farming accident, Julius had moved to New York -- apparently to further an acting career -- and the other children had married. George and Ursula moved to Minneapolis until their deaths. George died on Aug. 1, 1916, at age 93. Ursula died on March 4, 1935, at age 90. They are buried at Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis.
I have always said that I have the best view in Edina, with Arneson Acres' gardens and trees attracting everything from weddings to wildlife. We've seen people gather for 90th birthday parties, class reunions and classes on the terrace, and eagles and owls swoop by our window.
Today, we watched a group of young people working on... something. Finally, we figured out that they were building track for a dolly for a video camera.
Then, a young fox scampered into the scene, as if on cue. He rolled on the hill in the sunshine, scratched his ears and watched the surprised humans, who watched back. Then, one of the young men started shooting film and for several minutes, the fox posed and played like a contestant on America's Next Top Model before going off into the woods.
Yes, we do get work done at the office. Why do you ask?
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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