Stone Ruins of Park Terrace in Duluth

Park Terrace was an opulent building of Victorian townhouses located on a steep hill just off of Mesaba Avenue in Duluth. Built in 1890 by the Meyers Brothers Company, a local real estate business, the building was situated to give residents one of the best views of downtown and the harbor in the city. The design featured a grand corner tower complete with a large Star of David weathervane that sat atop an ornate metal dome. Six upward terraces climbed the steep hill on the northeastern side of the building, and four terraces ascended the northwestern side. To reach their home from the street, residents climbed concrete exterior stairs to a concrete walkway that led to an individual porch for each of the two or three level homes.

The Meyers brothers, Benjamin, Henry, and Jacob, all lived with their families at Park Terrace for five years. By the mid-1890s Benjamin had moved to a house on London Road and Jacob relocated to Texas, which left Henry to run the real estate and investment business in Duluth until his death in 1931. After Henry’s death, Park Terrace began to deteriorate, and the building was abandoned. By 1936 Park Terrace had been sitting vacant and dilapidated for some time, so the decision was made to demolish the building. The cornerstone, which can be seen just below the corner porches in the historic photo, was saved and has been placed at street level where it still rests. Today, trees and bushes cover the terraced foundations and crumbling staircases where the grand building once stood.

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Historic Mendota Gallery

I had some free time last weekend so I decided to venture down to historic Mendota. You may remember my photos this summer from the Sibley Historic Site, but there are a few other places nearby that I wanted to see.

I stopped at the Sibley and Faribault houses first, then spent some time at the historic St. Peter’s Church, and finally walked through the church’s historic cemetery. If you love historic cemeteries, be sure to put this one on your list. It had all of my favorite things—pretty monuments, graves dating back to the 1860s (or later, many were too weathered to read), and a lot of quiet time to reflect. 

Prehistoric Minnesota Woman

As construction workers were excavating a roadway along the eastern shore of Prairie Lake near Pelican Rapids in 1931, they uncovered one of the most exciting prehistoric finds in this region of North America—a human skeleton. The remains were found nine feet below the surface and encased in fine layers of clay which had once been the bottom of a lake that predated glacial Lake Agassiz. The state archaeologist was called in to exhume the bones and look for additional artifacts that would help identify and date the remains. At the time, the bones were determined to be those of a 15-year-old boy who died close to 20,000 years before. An unusual conch and elk antler knife were also found near the skeleton. For many scientists, the remains and artifacts were proof that prehistoric people inhabited this part of North America.

Soon after the completion of the roadway, a plaque was placed at the site where the remains were found. It said: “The remains of the Minnesota Man of the Pleistocene Age were found in this road cut on June 16, 1931.” In 1959, a wayside rest was established near the site, and a new marker was placed there by the Minnesota Historical Society.

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Finding the Extraordinary in University Grove

University Grove is an eclectic jumble of 20th-century homes situated on tree-lined streets in a secluded area near the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota. The 103 architect-designed homes are virtually all owned by University of Minnesota faculty and administrators. Considered by many to be an architectural time capsule, the Grove evolved from a couple of blocks of English Tudor and Colonial homes to eight blocks of contemporary vernacular architecture.

In 1928, University vice-president William Middlebrook devised a unique leasehold system in an attempt to attract new professors to the University by offering them high quality, yet affordable housing. Under this scheme, residents build or purchase the home, but the University retains ownership of the land it sits on. The University then leases the land back to residents for between $75 and $200 annually. This arrangement allows the University to control the evolution of the neighborhood without the risk of developing it themselves.

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Terrace Theatre Gallery

Located in Robbinsdale, the international-style Terrace Theatre opened on May 23, 1951. At the time, it was one of the most luxurious and modern theaters in the country.

Rainy Lake Gold Rush

When people think of the gold rush, they think of California, but Minnesota had its own gold rush. With stories of people striking it rich in California spreading east, even the slightest hint of gold elsewhere in the country would spark a new frenzy. When a vein of gold-laden quartz was found amid the forests and lakes of Minnesota – the hunt was on. While it certainly wasn’t as large or frenzied as California’s rush, Minnesota’s gold rush shaped the history of the northern-most part of the state.

Fools Gold Rush
In 1865, State Geologist Henry Eames encouraged assay on a vein of quartz from Lake Vermillion that had indicated a gold value of $23 per metric ton. He explained that the slates around the lake were crisscrossed with veins of quartz in which nearly all showed the presence of precious metals like gold and silver.

After the results of the Eames assay had begun to spread, people started to flock to Lake Vermillion. A reporter with the St. Paul Pioneer Press wrote in 1865 that a majority of points on the lake were “composed of talcose slate sprinkled with gold-bearing quartzes.” He went on to explain that the rocks were covered with thick, spongy moss that when removed revealed bright veins of quartz enriched with gold.

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