Dirt on Their Skirts – The Minneapolis Millerettes

“It was a time when women took over men’s positions as they went off to war, not only in the field of manufacturing, but on the field of dreams.” —Annabelle Lee In 1944, a group of talented athletes took the Nicollet Park field to wild cheering from the stands. Spectators stood as the team took their places on the baseball diamond. Instead of knee...

Wilder Public Baths

It’s hard to imagine a time when taking a bath or shower in your own home wasn’t possible, but the convenience of showering on a regular basis is a modern luxury. One hundred years ago, many working-class homes in St. Paul lacked bathing facilities. People living in rooming houses and along the Mississippi flats didn’t even have running water. Public beaches were a popular...

Upper Post of Fort Snelling: Post Movie Theater

Fort Snelling was renowned for its recreational opportunities for servicemen and their families. One of the most popular activities for families was to go to the post theatre. The original theatre was nothing fancy. It was built around the turn of the century but greatly altered in the mid-1920s. The theatre was a wooden structure with hardwood floors and 12’ ceilings. The entire theatre...

Maine Prairie Corners: A Minnesota Ghost Town

A township of new settlers from Maine sprung up in Stearns County, Minnesota around 1856, but it wasn’t until 1858 that the small pioneer village officially adopted the name, Maine Prairie. During the Dakota Conflict of 1862, Maine Prairie became the site of a small log fort, known as Maine Prairie Fort. Built in August of that year, the fort was a two level,...

Upper Post of Fort Snelling: Commandant’s Residence

Without a doubt, the post commandant’s residence was the grandest of all of the homes along Officer’s Row. The Second Empire style home was nearly 7,000 square feet in size, with six bedrooms and three bathrooms. The first floor featured a large dining room, library, and two sitting rooms. A large conservatory was also located on this floor at the side of the home. The...

Minnesota’s Northwest Angle

At a glance, nothing peculiar stands out about Minnesota on a map. It’s when you take a longer look that you’ll notice it. Along the northern border there is a small piece of land that looks like it should be part of Manitoba, Canada marked as territory of Minnesota, and the United States. However, this piece of land is not physically connected to the...

Colonel Colvill of the First Minnesota

William Colvill — does that name ring a bell? Unless you’re a Civil War history buff, this name probably doesn’t mean anything to you yet. Perhaps he’s been forgotten because he was a good, simple man — hard-working and generous. He held fast to what he believed was right and stood up against wrongdoing. Perhaps it’s only natural for his name to fade into...

The Minneapolis Industrial Exposition

Minneapolis’ most prominent citizens were shocked to learn that the Minnesota State Fair would take up permanent residence St. Paul. When the announcement was made, these citizens sprung into action to plan a fair in their city to rival the one in St. Paul. In 1885 the idea was born to create an exposition centered around industry and technology instead of around agriculture. Minneapolitans...

Upper Post of Fort Snelling: Band Barracks

The barracks for the Fort Snelling band originally housed about 28 military musicians. Built in 1903, the yellow brick band barracks features a three-story projecting bay with wooden porches on both sides on the first and second stories. The porches were originally open but the first-floor porches have now been enclosed. The second-story porches feature round, wooden columns to support the roof of the porch....

Hamm’s Homes of Sky Blue Waters

From the Land of Sky Blue Waters, From the land of pines, lofty balsams, Comes the beer refreshing, Hamm’s the beer refreshing. The Theodore Hamm Brewing Company was established in 1865 when Theodore Hamm foreclosed on a struggling brewery in the Dayton’s Bluff area of St. Paul. After just a few years under his guidance, Hamm’s became one of the largest breweries in the...

Upper Post of Fort Snelling: Post School

Prior to Minnesota becoming a state, most of a child’s educational needs were met by either their parents or a local priest/pastor who could devote time to teaching them. Once Fort Snelling was built in the early 1800s, the wives of the post commandant and officers took up the task of teaching the children that lived at the fort. The women focused on teaching...

How Betty Crocker Became America’s First Lady of Food

Betty Crocker was born in a boardroom of The Washburn Crosby Company of Minneapolis in 1921. A flood of questions from the public about baking had overwhelmed the company. In a brilliant marketing move, Washburn Crosby created a personality to answer all of the inquiries individually. They combined the last name of a recently retired company executive, William Crocker, with the first name Betty...

Upper Post of Fort Snelling: Officer’s Quarters

Prior to the 1967 expansion of the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, the area of the Upper Post known as Officer’s Row looked like a typical block of family homes. The houses were generously set back from Taylor Avenue giving each a large front yard. The considerable space between each residence allowed officers and their families privacy and plenty of space to live and play. Just...

Quinlan’s Renaissance Revival Palace

Elizabeth C. Quinlan was the co-founder of the Young-Quinlan Department Store in downtown Minneapolis. The popularity of her store was due in large part to offering exceptionally-made clothing and accessories to not only the elite women of Minneapolis, but also to the upper-middle class. The lower cost of ready-to-wear clothing meant that upper-middle class women could buy off the rack — thus having more...

Upper Post of Fort Snelling: Quartermaster’s Shops

A building boom took place in upper part of the fort when the Department of the Dakota moved its headquarters to Fort Snelling in 1879. Building 63 was originally constructed to house the Quartermaster’s Shops for this new part of the post, but soon became the Post Exchange. Originally lit with oil lamps, electricity was added in the 1910s. In 1926, it was converted...