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.
We flip a switch and the lights come on... It's a simple action we take for granted, but until 1934 most of Edina did not have electricity.
Electric power came earlier to Morningside, Country Club District and housing areas at the north end of the city, but rural Edina had to wait.Residents of Cahill community, located in southwest Edina near 70th Street and Cahill Road, were so thrilled with getting power, they celebrated throughout the year, according to Dorothy Grant Palmer, a long-time resident.
"In the early 1930's the entire Cahill community was still not being supplied with electric power. Even telephone service was very limited - only a few fortunate people were lucky enough to have telephones. It was in 1934 that North States Power finally brought electricity to southwestern Edina. As the electricity was turned on in the various homes, 'light up' parties were held to celebrate the 'blessed event'. It was a year that was filled with many happy social gatherings. Even the little group of Lutherans, who met in the Cahill School house, had a special gala dedication to celebrate its first service with electric lights."
Dorothy wrote down her memories of living in the Cahill community during the 1930s and 40s, and submitted her essay, "A Wedding in a One Room School House" to us in 1985 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of her wedding in Cahill School, which served as a church for the few Lutherans in the mostly Irish Catholic neighborhood. That church later became Calvary Lutheran, now located at 6817 Antrim Road in Edina.
What were you doing when the lights went on in Edina? Did you attend any "light up" parties? If you have photos of any of the events or memories to share, please contact me.
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