Tag Archives: Minneapolis Neighborhoods

Autumn Leaves Lots to Learn!

There is a harmony in autumn, and a luster in its sky, which through the summer is not heard or seen, as if it could not be, as if it had not been!  

Percy Bysshe Shelley

The harmony and luster of autumn somehow inspire us to learn, to engage, to think deep thoughts about “life, the universe and everything.” The good news is that creative colleagues offer food for thought in the form of theater, literature, film, stories and more. Once again, the in-basket is so full of intriguing programs and activities that I plucked just a few that might ignite some plans. To be sure, the list is random, incomplete, intended as a prompt not a calendar of possibilities!

* Theatre Latte Da opens the new season with production of Ragtime, the award- winning tale of life in turn-of-the-century New York, the melting pot of Jewish immigrants, a woman of privilege, and a Harlem musician. The musical, based on the book by E.L. Doctorow, opens September 21 and runs through October 23. (http://www.theaterlatteda.com)

* A reminder that the Twin Cities Zine Fest is set for Saturday September 24 – details in earlier post (https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/tag/twin-cities-zine-fest-2016/)

* Stories, Down by the Riverside are featured when storytellers Larry Johnson and Elaine Wyne share their experiences – and those of past residents, their friends and neighbors. It’s Sunday, September 25, 2:00 p.m. at the Hennepin History Museum, (http://www.hennepinhistory.org) They’ll spin tales of “The Great Richter Drug Store Robbery,” “The Day the Old Radio Dramas Vanished” and one about thousands of Minneapolis school children who, in 1896, pulled the John and Helen Stevens house from Cedar-Riverside to Minnehaha Park. Guests will be invited to share their own stories of the Cedar-Riverside community.

* The well-received Women’s Human Rights Film Series sponsored by The Advocates for Human Rights launches September 21; the series is a collaboration with the Saint Paul Public Library where the films will be shown at area public libraries during the weeks to come. “Profiled”, set for September 21, at the Hamline Midway Library, relates the stories of mothers of Black and Latin youth murdered by the NYPD, depicting how the women channel their anger into a struggle for justice. “Red Light Green Light,” set for Thursday, October 13, at the St. Anthony Park Library, explores several nations’ efforts to prevent and cope with the travesty of sex trafficking. “Don’t Tell Anyone”, showing Wednesday, November 3, depicts the life of a young woman who is undocumented, one of the generation of DREAMers “eager to end their silence and push for social change.” All films will be shown at 6:30 p.m. (http://www.theadvocatesforhumanrights.org/womens_human_rights_film_series)

* Writer and teacher Wendy Brown Baez (http://www.wendybrownbaez.com/POP-UP-Readings.html) is all about Pop Up Readings, aka Classroom in a Backpack. The first Pop Up workshop is set for Wednesday, September 21, 6:30 p.m. at Eat My Words Books (http://www.eatmywordsbooks.com)

* Nimbus Theatre will inaugurate their new home with an original production of The Kalevala set to run October 8-30. The show is written and adapted by Liz Neerland and directed by Josh Cragun. Based on the 19th century epic of the same name, the original nimbus production overflows with fantasy, giants, gods, maidens and others of their ilk set in the “fierce lands of the north” (https://www.nimbustheatre.com/discover/production/kalevala)

* A quick reminder that the Twin Cities Book Festival is set for Saturday, Octobber 115 at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. More about this free event in a separate post.

I’m so glad I live in a world where there is autumn.

L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables


Walking historic Minneapolis — There’s an app for that!

Seldom have we known such a summer for strolling Twin Cities neighborhoods – enjoying the magnificent gardens, the unique architecture, the cool breezes, the friendliness of your own neighborhoods, and the stories of neighborhoods waiting to be explored.

Good news – there’s an app for that!!!

Check out the Minnesota Historical walking tour app now available for iPhone and Android users. The digital guide will enlighten your tour through the Marcy Holmes and Old Highland neighborhoods in North Minneapolis, home of the City of Lakes earliest residents.

Some background: The earliest residents of these neighborhoods were Native Americans for whom the waterfalls on the river were sacred. Father Louis Hennepin, a Franciscan priest, is credited with being the first European to see the falls in 1680. He was so taken with their beauty that he named them after his patron saint, St Anthony of Padua.

The accounts of Father Hennepin helped make this a destination for adventurous travelers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The falls became the center for logging businesses so that by 1850 census records show the town of St. Anthony Falls with a population of 656. The first store was opened in 1847, at what is now Main Street and Second Avenue SE; the first frame houses were built in 1848 and the first school was opened in 1849.

Eventually the town of St Anthony Falls incorporated in 1855, and was later named St. Anthony. It merged with Minneapolis in 1872.  Fifth Street became the premier address in the city. It was home to flour manufacturers, lumbermen, merchants and other civic leaders who built the town of St. Anthony. The Old Highland neighborhood was originally part of the Fort Snelling Military Reservation, claimed for the US in 1809 by Zebulon Pike

Start with the Old Highland neighborhood. The elegantly preserved neighborhoods feature Queen Anne and Victorian architecture built during Minneapolis during what is known as the “Golden Age.” Before venturing out you might want to start with the online walking tour designed by the Old Highland Neighborhood Association (http://www.minneapolishistorical.org/tour-builder/tours/show/id/3#.U9g5ucZQZ4N)

There you’ll find in-depth descriptions of 30 homes, their history, architectural features and the stories of former residents. You’ll find the stories of Ascension Church, built in 1890 and of the Ascension school, begun by three Sisters of St. Joseph in 1897, of the home of Vincent Schuler, founder of the Schuler Shoes Chain, of Frank Gross, the second Minneapolis Parks Commissioner (for whom the golf course is named), churches and homes of Norwegian and German immigrants, The list goes on…

Moving right along, check out the Marcy-Holmes website (http://marcy-holmes.org/neighborhood/map-tours/) The site includes a published guide to the neighborhood, Hiding in Plain Sight by Penny Peterson.  Again you’ll find descriptions and stories of the history, the houses, the people – especially the “musings” of local residents.

Now that you’ve got the idea, take the new app as your guide as you walk the walk through the Mill City’s first neighborhoods. The Marcy Holmes section of the app features 24 historical sites while the Old Highland Neighborhood offers 29 featured sites.

The app is available free on the iTunes App Store and Google Play.

“Minneapolis Historical” was created by Preserve Minneapolis (http://www.preserveminneapolis.org) and the Old Highland Neighborhood Association (http://www.oldhighland.org) with software developed by Cleveland State University. The project was funded with Legacy funds administered by the Minnesota Historical Society.

Technology Access Grows for Some, Not All, Minneapolitans

Do you want to apply for retirement benefits?  Check your bank balance?  Talk back to the TV?  Look for a job?  Help your kid with her homework?  Keep up with the news?

Better be able to afford and, more important, know how to use technology – not just an old-fashioned computer but a range of technology tools including smartphones, the expanding social media options, email, Internet and whatever comes next.

Again this year, the City of Minneapolis set forth to survey the state of community technology.  Some 3211 residents responded to the survey.  The report is out (online, of course) and a series of community meetings is in process.

The biggest change since the 2012 survey is the expansion of mobile access.  Internet enabled mobile phones is higher in 2013, even among those households less likely to own a computer.  An interesting note is the fact that, of adults over the age of 45, women were much more likely than men to have cellphones with the ability to access the Internet.

A telling fact is that, while 90% of white households have computers, only 65% of Black/African American respondents have Internet access at home. Among the respondents with children in their household who reported their race on the survey, whites are far more likely to have access at home (95%) compared to people of color (73%).

The survey results are reported in geographic terms.  Importance was ranked lowest among residents in Camden and Phillips and respondents who had lived in Minneapolis for fewer than six years were more likely to view having a computer and Internet access in their home as essential.

The full survey report includes much more information about access, attitudes and geographic distribution of technology.  Maps depicting neighborhood access patterns are available here.

Future meetings about the survey are set for Tuesday, May 21, 5:30-7:00 p.m., DevJam Studios; Thursday, June 13, a morning session 7:30-9:00 a.m. at Eastside Food Coop, 2551 Central Avenue NE, and Wednesday, June 19, 6:00-7:30 p.m. at Sabathani Community Center, 310 East 38th Street.

Journalist, Lincoln Biographer Josiah Gilbert Holland Remembered in Northeast Minneapolis

Holland Neighborhood in Northeast Minneapolis is unique in many ways, starting with the name itself.  The neighborhood is named for the late great Holland School, which had roots dating back the original Holland, a one-room schoolhouse where Northeast children learned their ABC’s and good citizenship until construction in 1886 of a handsome three-story school at 17th and Washington was replaced in 1969, only to be closed in 2000.  Though the proud story of Holland School needs to be told, the connection is here is that the Neighborhood still bears the name.

About the name “Holland.”  Forget the images of Dutch settlers, wooden shoes and tulips.  Holland School and Holland Neighborhood share as a namesake one Josiah Gilbert Holland (1819-1881), American novelist, editor, essayist, biographer and poet. Though lost in the dust of the nation’s literary history today, Holland was famous in his day and a logical choice for founders of Holland School eager to embrace this nation’s literary accomplishments, particularly Holland’s infamous biography of Abraham Lincoln.

A New Englander by birth, Josiah Gilbert Holland grew up in a family that both poor and pious.  After an unsuccessful attempt to establish a medical practice in Springfield, Massachusetts, he took a teaching position in Richmond, Virginia and later Vicksburg Mississippi.    In 1850 he returned to Massachusetts where he become an editor of the Springfield Republican newspaper.  His literary career began with publication in book form of a collection of essays he had written during the 1850’s and early 1860’s.   He proceeded to write well-received historic novels and essays which he published under the pseudonym Timothy Titcomb.

Holland’s name and fame went viral after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. It is said that Holland arrived in Springfield, Illinois, within days of Lincoln’s assassination.   For reasons that are not clear he was selected to deliver the eulogy for Lincoln in the President’s home state.  In that eulogy Holland brilliantly captured the essence of the President in these words:  “From the first moment of his (Lincoln’s) introduction to national notice, he assumed nothing but duty…I do not think that it ever occurred to Mr. Lincoln that he was a ruler.  More emphatically than any of his predecessors did he regard himself as the servant of the people.”

Based on the public endorsement of Holland’s eulogy, the journalist was soon selected to write a biography of the President.  In short order Holland produced a monumental biography of the beloved leader.  He hailed Lincoln’s military expertise and named him “ the liberator of a race”.  He also described Lincoln as “unattractive in person, awkward in deportment, unrestrained in conversation, a story-lover and story-teller, much of the society around him held him in ill-disguised contempt.”  The greatness of Lincoln, he said, “lay in how the contempt never seemed to generate in him a feeling of revenge, or stir him to thoughts of bitterness.”

Holland’s work was – and in some circles is – recognized as a “landmark” work, “the first of any substantial length as a biography, the first with any aspirations to comprehensiveness, and a best seller of 100,000 copies that was published in several languages.”  In fact, Holland had never met Lincoln, a fact he turned into a positive, suggesting that he created the first life of the “inner Lincoln.”

The biography of Lincoln stirred a mighty controversy when the fact checkers of the 1860’s discounted Holland’s depiction of Lincoln as a deeply devout Christian whose ethics were based on Christian principles.  Some observers of the era also suggest that the mid-Westerners of Lincoln’s home area were not enthused about a writer from the East presuming to analyze the forces that influenced the President.  In the long-term Holland’s research into Lincoln’s ancestry and early life, based in large part by first-hand accounts of relatives who knew the Lincoln family, add a unique perspective to the public’s understanding of the assassinated president.

In spite of the critics, Holland’s biography of Lincoln sold 100,000 copies to readers around the globe.  Those who enjoy stories of Lincoln’s life, particularly those who know something of the Holland connection, will enjoy a scholarly article entitled “Holland’s Informants: The construction of Josiah Holland’s Life of Abraham Lincoln.”  The text of this intriguing story is available online.  The first chapter of Holland’s The Life of Abraham Lincoln (1866) is also available online through Wikisource.

In 1868, while his biography of Lincoln was still selling well in spite of the critics, Holland traveled to Europe.  The tour proved life changing when on that trip he met and established a working relationship with Russell Smith.  Together they conceived the idea of starting a magazine, the nucleus of a plan they eventually shared with established publisher Charles Scribner.  The result was the 1870 publication of Scribner’s Monthly (later Century Magazine), edited by Josiah Gilbert Holland.

An interesting story about Holland’s personal life concerns the friendship he and his wife Elizabeth Luna Chapin Holland formed with the poet Emily Dickinson.   The couple visited Dickinson’s home at Amherst many times; the record of their frequent correspondence suggests a close friendship.  It is said that “what Emily Dickinson most admired in Holland was that he was ‘so simple, so believing’ and made God seem ‘so sunshiny.’”

Though during his lifetime Holland’s books sold more than a half million volumes, Holland the writer is lost in the annals of 19th Century literati.  Still, in the late 1880’s, when Holland School was the educational hope of Northeast families, Holland’s was a household word.  His works were on library shelves and in countless homes.  No doubt the educators and political leaders who had the privilege of naming public buildings deliberated at length the challenge to select just the right namesake for the new school building in Northeast.  Who better than a renowned journalist and historian whose major work honored the beloved President?

Little did they know in 1866 that, though Holland School, known for preparing generations of Northeasters, would be no more – but that the name of Holland would be honored in the vitality of the 21st Century Holland Neighborhood, thriving as it is today at the epicenter of the Northeast Arts community.

Holland would likely enjoy the timeliness of the message, if not the chauvinism, of this quoted from his poem Wanted:

God give us men.  The time demands

Strong minds, great hearts, true faith, and willing hands;

Men whom the lust of office does not kill;

Men whom the oils of office cannot buy;

Men who possess opinions and a will;

Men who have honor; men who will not lie;

Men who can stand before a demagogue

And dam his treacherous flatteries without winking;

Tall men, sun-crowned, who live above the fog

In public duty and in private thinking.