I was cruising through Uptown the other day and noticed a couple antique shops I’d never visited. I had a couple minutes to spare, so I decided to check out their wares.
Whenever I visit a local antique dealer, I look for a cool old map of our neighborhood from around the time the house was built. Several shops in town carry old plat maps, but so far I haven’t found one from the right time period with the plate I want. I didn’t find a neighborhood map this day, either. Their Minneapolis plat map was from 1917– too early.
Besides the plat maps, this shop had old maps, photos and plans for Minneapolis city parks. We have one of the best urban park systems in the country here, and I am fortunate to live near one of the largest green/blue spaces in the city.
Just a few steps from our door is the Lake Hiawatha Golf Course and Park. Like nearly all of the lakes in the city, Lake Hiawatha is surrounded by public green space. In the antique shop I found a plan for the golf course and park, designed by Theodore Wirth in January 1925.
If you’re familiar with this part of Minneapolis, the map is a little confusing because it is oriented with East at the top of the page. The map title reads, “A Preliminary Study for Improvement of Rice Lake Providing for a Golf Course and Playground.” The other confusing detail is the name of the lake itself. Although I haven’t researched the dates of the name changes, Rice Lake and larger Lake Amelia to just to the south were renamed Lake Hiawatha and Lake Nokomis. These names come from The Song of Hiawatha a popular 19th century epic poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow loosely based on Native American legends and set in this area. On my map from 1925, Lake Nokomis already has its new name– perhaps Rice Lake was renamed Lake Hiawatha at the time the park plan was adopted or completed.
I believe the golf course and its clubhouse were built in accord with the design on this preliminary plan. However, the play fields and field house building here shown at the south-east portion of the park are instead located at the north-east corner. My assumption is that the north-east location for Hiawatha Park’s beach and buildings was chosen to allow subsequent construction of park buildings and play fields on the north shore of Lake Nokomis directly to the south across Minnehaha Parkway from the site of the Hiawatha buildings on this plan. The only part of the south-east park building complex that was built are the tennis courts on the north side of Minnehaha Parkway overlooking the southern shore of Lake Hiawatha.
This park plan was a neat find. I’m planning to frame the map and display it along with other items showing the history of the house and neighborhood.