Much of this information came from the Edina Historical Society.
The Browndale neighborhood was once the beautiful and prosperous farm of Henry Francis Brown. Brown was born in 1843, one of ten children in a wealthy Maine family. He came to Minneapolis in 1859 at the age of 17. He made a great deal of money in lumber and flour milling in the 1860’s, and in 1865 he married and built a house at 4th Avenue South and 7th Street in Minneapolis was said to be the first with indoor plumbing (brought from Chicago.)
He purchased the George Midwood farm (est. 1857) in 1872, the John Chambers farm (est. 1855) in 1874, and the Craik farm, including the mill, in 1894. He dubbed the new farm “Browndale.” Most of the farm was in Edina; the part in present-day St. Louis Park was bounded on the west by present-day 100, on the south by 44th Street, on the east by Wooddale and on the north by Morningside Road.
Brown built Browndale Avenue for the use of pioneers coming from Lake Minnetonka to the Mill. The Avenue was planted with Elm trees that created a canopy of leaves, inspiring the name Lovers Lane. It ran straight south starting from Wooddale (between 41st and 42nd) parallel to the creek in Edina, and ended at the Mill.
Much of northern Edina sits on land that was once owned by Brown, where he raised award-winning cattle and Clydesdale horses.
Brown’s wife Sarah Fairchild Brown died in 1906. She had been a celebrated hostess at their home in Minneapolis (they never lived in Edina, but pushed hard for the name).
Frank J. and Florence Mackey filed the plat of Browndale Park on November 2, 1909. This 150-lot addition includes homes on Morningside, 44th, Wooddale, Browndale, Mackey, Brook, Coolidge, Dart, and Glen Place. It was then that the eastern edge of Aurora Ave. (later Highway 100) was first laid out, originally planned to be 20 ft. wide but changed to 30’ ft. at the Village Council’s request. Many of the lots were 75 ft. wide.
Brown died in 1912, and in 1913 the livestock and furnishings were auctioned off. The farm lay vacant until it was purchased by the Thorpe Brothers for their Country Club development in 1922.
The Tingdale Bros. platted Browndale, named after H.F. Brown’s 77-acre farm, on June 9, 1915. (A P.M.Dahl was also involved with the 443-lot plat.) For the most part, these 40 ft. lots were not built upon until 1939 – 1940, when the rest of the area was constructed.
A Mr. King reported that Browndale Ave. had been opened for traffic between 44th St. and Wooddale in September 1917.
A Hennepin County Review article from December 6, 1945, reports that the border between Browndale and Morningside was to change. “The old line which ran north and south between Natchez and Monterey avenues, bisected several lots and even cut through some homes, which fact caused boundless bewilderment for the tax assessors. The brand new border will run west along Forty-third and One Half St., from there southeast between the lot lines at the rear of Oakdale and Wooddale avenues. Now, homeowners whose lots face Oakdale may consider themselves residents of Morningside, and lots facing Wooddale belong to St. Louis Park.” A look at today’s map indicates that instead of running west at 43 1/2 Street, it now runs west a block north at Morningside Road.