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.
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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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