"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.
1. Morningside name
A couple of readers commented on the history of Morningside's moniker. (See Neighborhood names: Morningside.)
Kim Ode wrote, "I'd never seen that phone book logo and, while I figured there was a Scottish component to Morningside, I've always considered us as living on the 'morning' side of Edina, being the first to greet the sun!"
I like that. I also love that Morningside, appropriately enough, has a "Sunnyside Road" running through it.
Mollie Kennedy-Harper wrote, "Some of us occasionally refer to Morningside as 'Nordeast' Edina." Good one! (although I wonder what the Minneapolis Nordeasters would make of that.)
2. Mystery mansion in Morningside - Parbury house
I wrote about the alleged haunted mansion in Morningside more than two years ago, and it still prompts a few emails and comments, which I always enjoy. But I was especially excited to receive an email last week from an actual Parbury.
Michele Parbury wrote, "Yes, I am a Parbury, if only by marriage. My husband is the grandson of the owners. His father was raised in this house and that is his dog, Chrissy. I was so excited to find your story! I know they left sometime in the late 60's to build a home on Bull Shoals Lake in Protem, MO (near Branson)... I'm going to call my father-in-law right now!"
Michele sent me her email and we hope to exchange some information about the house, pictured here.
We also have some photos of people who we think are Parbury family members. Isn't this a sweet picture of Helen Josephine (Parbury?) and her grandpa?
3. Wooddale dancers
Susie Paplow's essay of Growing Up in Edina: Dancer's life formed at Wooddale School brought back memories for another Wooddale dancer.
Helen Akers wrote, "My goodness! What a surprise! My brother sent me this link. I attended Wooddale from K thru 5th, which would be 1958 thru...1965? I also was in the dance recitals in 1960, 61 and 62. Does anyone remember the name of our dance instructor? I can picture his face but not his name. Our principal was Van Sarff. Kindergarten was Ms. Bemis. Fourth grade was Mrs. Blashfield I think. Third...Mrs. Spalding? I remember Mr. Kenyon also. Science I think. We played jacks on the front steps of the school...I loved that school. I remember the carnivals also and yes, the school did seem to transform into a magical place!"
I have heard about Ms. Bemis from many generations of Edina students. Someday, I'll have to figure out how many decades she taught at Wooddale School. While I can't tell you that today, I do know she was a much beloved teacher, based on the reminiscences of our visitors.
4. Growing Up in Edina
Several class reunion groups have made the Edina History Museum's "Growing Up in Edina" exhibit part of their activities. Take a trip down Memory Lane yourself. Visit us free during regular museum hours, Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to noon. The display will be up until at least October.
I'm pondering the next exhibit now. I would like to say I'm "working on" the project, but I haven't moved past the thinking stage yet. I do know that the exhibit will celebrate Edina's Quasquicentennial (125th birthday) in 2013. This part of my job is very fun (and a lot of work for one person.) I could use some talented volunteers to help brainstorm and create the display. Email me or call me at the museum (612-928-4577) to find out more.
Happy Monday, everyone!
I asked, you answered. I received a couple of responses regarding last week's post "What's going on? Captions needed," showing photos that were part of a collection donated by former Edina High School teachers Del and Lavonne Frederickson.
Jeff Thompson identified the Time cover pictured in the background: the Aug. 13, 1973 issue featuring Minnesota Governor Wendell Anderson.
While we Minnesotans were pretty proud of making national press, I was surprised that it was named one of the magazine's 10 Worst Covers. What?! Did those jealous Wisconsin-ites or Iowans skew the voting?
Judge for yourself: the article is available online at the Time website.
More importantly, Jeff could identify some of the Edina students in the photos.
The students are Polly Peterson standing on the left and her brother Mark Peterson standing in the middle. Robin Peterson who is not related is sitting in the middle. My guess is this is the Student Council in 1975.
(By the way, Polly Peterson later was crowned Miss Minnesota USA. For more about Edina's beauty pageant winners, see this post.)
With Jeff's help narrowing down the date, we can check the correct yearbook for the other names.
Another reader, Sue (Naas) Manske helped with another photo in the Frederickson collection:
Not sure if this picture was taken in 1970, but at least two of the students are from the class of 1970. Standing are Steve Precht and Dennis Hughes. I think the other 2 are from the class of '70 also....I can refer you to several people from the class of '70 that organized the last reunion and they can probably give you more names.
Sue and I exchanged emails, and we hope to have names with those faces soon.
I also have a few more people identified in a Morningside kindergarten photo (from this post.) Kirk Nelson recently identified himself (bottom row, number 6) and some of his classmates. I added the names to the list. If anyone can help identify the rest of these cute kindergartners or anyone else in our photos posted on the blog, please email me or comment on the individual post.
Thanks to all who help me with my archiving duties. Happy Monday, everyone!
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.
What do you call this building, located at 5701 Normandale Road?
a. Edina-Morningside Junior and Senior High School, as it was called when it opened in 1949?
b. Edina High School, as it was called after the villages of Morningside and Edina merged in 1966?
c. Edina East, as it was called after Edina West (below) was built in 1972?
d. Edina Community Center, as it is now?
Careful, your answer will no doubt reveal your age -- or at least your longevity in Edina. People often tell me to go to the high school, when they mean the Community Center. Believe me, I was confused the first few months on the job here.
Here's a circa 1990s aerial of the original high school.
Looking south at Edina's first high school, built in 1949. The photo, taken in the 1990s, shows the building next to Highway 100 on the right. Lake Cornelia is visible on the upper left. Other large buildings are: Concord Elementary (upper center) and South View Middle School (lower left) Kuhlman Athletic Field is the oval in the center.
A recent Photo Friday featured the Ernie Davis farm, site of the new Edina West High School below. (Excuse me, that's now just "Edina High School." I guess I'm revealing my age a little.) So this week I thought I'd give you a closer look at the high schools, both old and new.
I should have noted in the original post that Edina West was the second school building constructed on the Davis farm. Valley View Middle School (square lighter building at left) was built in 1964. West was built in 1972. (See current map of buildings here.)
Happy Friday, everyone!
Free tours of Edina's historic buildings: St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, Minnehaha Grange and Cahill School on Tuesday, May 8. For more information, see our home page. Hope to see you there!
1. Hornettes and Cougarettes
Last week's blog post Hornette history told through items in our collection generated a few comments.
Karen McArthur noted that Edina West had its own dance team, the Cougarettes. "We share all of the traditions, dancing from 1972 – 1982. Some of our traditions have become Hornette traditions. For example, one of the kicks I saw in a recent Hornette dance on YouTube was made up by our 1977-78 Cougarette captain, Leslee Owens. I bet someone has photos of the Hornettes and Cougarettes dancing together from that decade. I’ll see if I can find any old photos."
In the mean time, here are the Cougarette pages from the first year Edina West was open (1972-1973). The new squad had just four veterans from the Hornettes.
As you can see by the comments on last week's post or on the many online news stories that readers' opinions are split into two camps:
1. It's a big deal that a 53-year-old name is changing; or
2. It's not a big deal that two letters are dropped from a name.
I'm not going to tell you where I stand on the issue. I don't think it's my role to affect history, just to record it.
You might think that historical societies would automatically campaign to preserve tradition. You would be wrong. Our mission is to collect, preserve and interpret it. There is a difference.
For example, when Clancy Drug closed at 50th and France, the Edina Historical Society didn't lead an effort to save the long-standing Edina business. We stayed on the sidelines not because there weren't a lot of Clancy Drug (and Toyland) fans in our organization -- because there were -- but because business owners must make the decisions that affect their own livelihood. Instead, we worked with the owners to collect menus, signs, dishes, a table, napkin holder, hundreds of photos and other artifacts for posterity.
If you listened to conversations among visitors and volunteers at the Edina History Museum last week, you would find opinions split on the Hornette/Hornet name. But there is one point that everyone supports: we should collect, preserve and tell their story. And I'm glad to say that several people have offered to look for photos and other artifacts about the Hornettes -- and let's not forget, the Cougarettes.
2. Normandale Motel
A couple of people commented on the Normandale Motel, after seeing a postcard recently added to our collection. Brent wrote: "I remember it was across Normandale from the Ho Jo. It was there until at least 1970 if I remember. I think there was a liquor store next to it."
Dan Lapham found a photo of the motel on the Minnesota Historical Society web site. See photo here. The 1953 photo by the Minneapolis Star Journal shows a different address than the one listed on the postcard (7740 instead of 7816 Normandale Road). The sign is also slightly changed, showing "Smitty's Motel."
As I was looking through MHS's wonderful online Visual Resources database, I found a few other Edina hotels and motels.
What are we missing? Can you think of any others that operated in Edina? Do you have any photos or postcards to share?
3. Edina's first fundraiser concert
I hope you join us at our first fundraiser concert featuring the Peterson family on Thursday, June 14, at the Edina Performing Arts Center at Edina High School. Ticket sales support our programs (such as this blog.) We're excited to have the Petersons, not only because they're known throughout the country for their talents, but also because they're local history makers. Matriarch Jeanne Arland Peterson is in the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame as well as the Museum of Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
Her children also are remarkably talented. Daughter Patty has won seven Minnesota Music Awards, son Paul has performed with Prince (among many other big names), son Billy has toured with the Steve Miller band, daughter Linda is internationally known for her original jazz composition “Too Late to Leave Early" and performs throughout the country and abroad. They will be joined by a third generation of performers, including some Edina High School graduates.
Tickets are available in advance at the Edina Senior Center, online at Seat Yourself or at the door the night of the performance. (We sell tickets at the Edina History Museum as well, but our hours are limited. Maybe that will change with proceeds generated from this concert, huh? Fingers crossed.) Tickets are $20. Get a group together and make a night of it!
For more on the Petersons, see this WCCO special on the family. I have to admit that I had heard only Patty and Paul perform before our concert committee booked the group, but now I'm a big Jeanne Arland Peterson fan. Just watch her play piano... amazing!
If you're busy that night, you can still help. Donate any amount to the Society and your name will be listed on the program as one of our supporters. Please send your check to Edina Historical Society, 4711 West 70th Street, Edina, MN 55435. Write "concert donation" in the memo line of the check, or write "anonymous" if you don't wish to be listed.
Here are the Hornettes dance line when they began 53 years ago, as pictured in the 1959 Whigrean, the Edina High School yearbook.
Here are the Hornettes today. (More specifically, at the Homecoming Football Game in 2011)
The Hornettes have danced at Edina games for the past 53 years. (If you wonder at the "blue skinned" reference in the yearbook story, just think of performing in a skirt on a chilly autumn night.)
Next year, the team might be the "Hornets" as the school district plans to initiate consistent naming for all its teams. (If you've missed the news stories... where have you been? Most of the major TV news stations, the Star Tribune, and the online newspaper Edina Patch have all covered the story.)
Former Minnesota First Lady Mary Pawlenty was among the crowd that showed up at last week's School Board meeting to make a case for keeping the name the same. "Do not mistake this as a small concern over a name change," said Pawlenty, who was a Hornette in the late 1970s.
Here's Mary back when she was Mary Elizabeth Anderson (far right) when she attended Edina East High School. A 1979 graduate, she was the co-captain of the Hornettes.
Here is the two-page yearbook feature on the Hornettes.
The Edina Historical Society has a Hornette costume from the early 1980s, donated a couple of years ago by Suzy Mears. (Note her initials on the letter E.) The girls normally had to turn in their handmade uniforms at the end of the year, but Suzy's team was allowed to keep theirs because the line was getting new uniforms the following year.
Whether the dance team is the Hornets or the Hornettes, the Edina Historical Society will continue to document and preserve their story. We would love to have actual photos of the team's activities, rather than only the photos from the yearbooks. (As you might have noticed, it's difficult to get a good image from a yearbook, especially if you don't want to break the binding.)
If you have photos or artifacts to donate to the museum, please contact me.
We have an almost complete set of yearbooks at the Edina History Museum. Feel free to come in during regular museum hours and browse.
Most people know Howard Merriman by his name that graces the Edina High School gymnasium or for his 23 years as Edina High School Athletic Director.
But Howard's history in Edina stretches back to 1944. After teaching and coaching in his hometown of Delano for two years, Howard arrived in Edina as a fresh faced 24-year-old teacher at Edina School (later known as Wooddale), a combined elementary and junior high school.
Not only did he coach junior high athletes, he also worked as part-time recreation director for the City of Edina in the summers. In his first year, he helped establish the first summer baseball program. (For more, see John Sherman's June 29, 2011 story in the Edina Sun Current.)
During his park and rec years (1947 to 1955), he also helped organize park and rec youth programs for swimming and hockey.
Edina-Morningside Junior-Senior High was built in 1949, and Merriman continued coaching there. By 1955, the athletic program had grown so much that Merriman gave up teaching to become a full-time athletic director -- possibly the first one in the state, according to an Edina Historical Society oral history with former principal Rollie Ring.
Around the same time that Howard first joined Edina Schools, so did a lovely young woman. "Miss Madeline Roth joined the school staff as English teacher in about 1943. We all liked her. So did Mr. Merriman. He married her," recalled her former student Ron Shirk.
Madeline soon quit teaching and began a 60-year career with the American Red Cross. According to her obituary, she "began as assistant director of the Junior Red Cross, working with children in schools around the Minneapolis area. In 1956, she was one of two adults leading a nationwide team of 18 junior leaders to an international Red Cross meeting in the Netherlands and to the Red Cross headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Over the years, she was promoted to numerous leadership positions in the local and national Red Cross chapters. After retiring, she continued as a volunteer training local chapters how to respond in emergency situations"
During Howard's tenure as athletic director, Edina High School teams won 108 Conference and 27 State titles. Howard was the first class named to the Edina Athletic Hall of Fame and is also honored in the Minnesota State High School Hall of Fame.
These are just a few of the photos in the Merriman collection that I picked up today. The devoted couple did not have children, but their extended family kindly thought of the Edina Historical Society as an appropriate place for the documents, photos and other artifacts that pertain to the Merriman's life in Edina.
The Merrimans made history in Edina and we're glad (understatement) to add their material to our collection. I'll continue to sort and catalog the contents of the boxes, but I thought these photos were too cool not to share right away.
Do you remember the Merrimans? In doing some initial research about the Merrimans, I see that pro baseball player Bob Johnson played for Merriman's midget team. What stories can you share? Please comment here or email me
Edina High School was built at 6754 Valley View Road in the fall of 1972 on the Ernie Davis farm.
The farmhouse, 6740 Valley View, stood on the north side of the road (see below).
Here was the house.
And the barn.
Here's a closer look with what looks like a police or fire vehicle on the left side of the photo. I don't know more without further research, but it looks like the farm was not operating at the time these photos were taken (estimated 1970). The Davis's are not listed in the phone books of that time period, either.
Edina's student population grew rapidly in the 1960s, and overcrowding forced the district to build a second high school. Because the the original 1949 high school was located on the east side of town (5701 Normandale Road), the district looked for land on the west side and selected the Davis property. Logically, the schools were named Edina East and Edina West. (Or for you sports fans, the Hornets and the Cougars.)
The old school closed in 1981 and became the Edina Community Center and Edina once again had one high school.
Clarification: I should have noted in the original post that Edina West was the second school building constructed on the Davis farm. Valley View Middle School (square lighter building at left) was built in 1964. West was built in 1972. The photos were most likely taken prior to the construction of Valley View, not circa 1970.
When I worked for newspapers, we called the group photo a "stand 'em up and shoot 'em down." Die-hard newsmen hated to see a newspaper loaded with posed photos instead of action shots that depicted real news events. If a football team wins a conference championship, a news editor prefers to run an image of a player scoring the winning touchdown over a group shot showing the entire team.
Readers, on the other hand, would probably pick the portrait. It shows everyone who contributed not just the guy who ran across the goal line. It shows their kid, kids from the neighborhood and helps people put faces to the names in the community.
I have proof that people like portraits. Every time I run a group photo, web traffic spikes. Whether we run faculty photos, American Legion team photos or class photos, people visit -- and tell their friends, who tell their friends... and so on and so on and so on.
(Quick, name that commercial. Sorry, couldn't resist. Back to the main topic...)
So, from time to time, I will publish group photos as I get around to scanning them. Today, we're back to the 1940s and 1950s, brought to you by the Class of 1951, Edina's first high school graduating class.
This photo shows some of them as second graders in May 1941. Children who see this photo are surprised that all the girls are wearing dresses. Some think everyone is dressed up only because it was a special occasion. When I tell them girls were required to wear dresses, they think I'm joking. They're horrified when I point out that kids back then didn't wear tennis shoes to school either.
The photo below shows the Class of 1951 on the front steps of Edina School (known as Wooddale in later years) when they graduated from eighth grade in 1947. At the time, Edina schools ended in 8th grade. Then Edina kids went to St. Louis Park High School or one of the Minneapolis schools. Some went to a private school like Blake (then all boys) or Northrup (Blake's all girls school counterpart).
These young men and women are now 79 or 80 years old. But when they were middle school age, they could be as silly as kids today. Look at that front row posing like Napoleon Bonaparte.
By the way, those distinctive arched doorways were saved when Wooddale School was demolished in the 1980s and they are now the entrances to our exhibit rooms at the Edina History Museum.
This is Miss Ardus Towler's homeroom class.
In 1949, Edina's first high school opened without a senior class because, understandably, most people wanted to finish out their high school career where they started. The Class of 1951, as juniors, were the leaders at the combined junior and senior high school. (The building now houses Edina Community Education.)
This is Edina's first high school football team. Even without a senior class, the school managed to have enough players to field a full team. For many, this was the first time they competed in an organized sport (in contrast to today, when kids compete on sports teams even before they start kindergarten.)
These photos are courtesy of Frank Cardarelle (#43 in the middle row). The fourth-generation Edina resident, who grew up on a farm west of Valley View Road and today's Highway 62, is one of the children featured in our "Growing Up in Edina: A Show and Tell Exhibit" on display at the Edina History Museum through October 2012.
Now it's your turn. Are you a fan of group photos or do you share the journalism philosophy? Do you have photos to share? And most importantly, can you help identify any of the people in the photos? Comment here or email 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.