The St. Louis Park Commercial Club was founded on January 23, 1914. The first meeting was held in the “St. Louis Park Auditorium,” which was presumably in the new high school in the Walker Street building. The President was G.M. Wade, and the purpose of the (adult male) organization was
to encourage and promote the commercial and manufacturing interests of St. Louis Park and to foster and encourage, through social intercourse, a public spirit and a feeling of loyalty to the Village.
This organization was populated by seemingly all the prominent men in the community, almost to the point where it appears to be a sort of shadow Village Council. But apparently not in competition to the Council; in 1914 Charles Hanke was President of the Village Council and a member of the Commercial Club. The group was an instant success: by March 1914 there were 140 members. Most new business was referred to committees, which were similar to those of the Council as well:
Civic and Publicity
Social Morals and Health
Roads and Bridges
Ways and Means
Ad Hoc committees were formed as well, including one for baseball. Other major issues had to do with the Dan Patch Railroad, tree planting, numbering houses and street signs, post office issues, etc.
The Club also organized social and patriotic functions. In 1916 it held a minstrel show. In January 1917 it sponsored a dance and supper at the high school with the Mother Club. And in September 1917 it sponsored a reception for all of the young men being drafted for the war, as well as old soldiers. On October 17, 1917, a “Loyalty Meeting” was held at the High School. A year later the club held a benefit for wounded/disabled soldiers.
Other topics and activities in 1918 – 1920 included:
- Securing a dancing instructor to all who wish to avail themselves of the offer (was quite a success)
- Accusing Village officials who had not paid their property tax as “tax dodging”
- Approaching butchers in Minneapolis about starting a meat market in St. Louis Park.
- Starting a park system
- A homebuilding campaign
- Raising funds through a carnival for the St. Louis Park Football Club
- Rev. Munger, chairman of the social, moral, and health committee, was concerned about “profanity among our boys,” and looked to raise the morals in the community.
The last meeting in the minute book was dated February 9, 1920. There was apparently a successor organization called the Center Improvement Association, which covered an area north of Excelsior and west of France. A document dated February 21, 1924 indicated that the organization was structured just like the Commercial Club.
ST. LOUIS PARK AS INDUSTRIAL CENTER
“Boosters” Arranging to Obtain Branches of Eastern Factories
A June 27, 1914 article in the Minneapolis Daily News told the story of the formation of the St. Louis Park Commercial Club:
The history of the St. Louis Park Commercial club gives one of the finest evidences of the “get-together” spirit which has characterized that suburb more than any other incident in the 40 years’ existence of the village.
About January 1, the Commercial club bee began buzzing around St. Louis Park and at a mass meeting called at the beautiful new high school auditorium a tentative organization was formed with about 30 members.
Dr. G.M. Wade was elected temporary president, and Geo. F. Mosely secretary and, inside of a month the membership was more than 100.
On May first a permanent organization was formed and Dr. Wade re-elected to the presidency. Dr. John Watson, was chosen as vice president, T.M. Trenkley treasurer, and Clyde Wolford secretary. Today the rolls show [?] active members and the term “active” is true in every respect. [line lost to antiquity]
What It Has Done
Their meeting place is the Auditorium and that in itself is incentive enough to make the club members take interest.
Since its permanent organization the club has bettered conditions in the village in such matters as taxation, good roads, fire prevention and beautifying the village. Through their efforts trees have been planted along the streets and boulevards established in the residence district. And they are not done yet.
Now every individual member is working to secure more factories and industries for the village.
Situated as it is on the west boundary of Minneapolis, it is the logical spot to which factories and industries crowded out of Minneapolis must go. With a belt line and switch track two miles long, the very best of facilities are offered to factories of all sorts with two railroads to handle their business.
Particular efforts are at present being made to secure branches of the great automobile tire manufacturing companies of Ohio to locate in St. Louis Park.
There are in Minneapolis at present 15,000 automobiles and the state of Minnesota has registered more than 50,000 and “Park Boosters” are hoping and hustling for the establishment of a factory to furnish tires for these machines.
As a home-making district for the laboring man, St. Louis Park cannot be beat according to these boosters.
With the completion next month of the Dan Patch electric line’s tracks through St. Louis Park the village will be within 15 minutes of the center of Minneapolis and at a five-cent fare. Now the Twin City lines furnish transportation at a 10-cent rate.
This is nearer than any medium priced residence district within the city limits and is one of the Boosters’ strongest arguments for the development of the village.
Real estate men in the village have for sale small farms of 1-4, 1-2 or even an acre in extent laid large residence lots at prices and terms which appeal to the heart of any man of smaller means who wishes to build his home and enjoy it.
High taxes in the larger cities make it practically impossible for a laboring man to build the home without greater sacrifice that one should make.
In St. Louis Park taxes are low enough and the price of land is within the reach of any man who works for wages.