5100 EXCELSIOR BLVD.

WADDELL FARM

What would become 5100 Excelsior Blvd. was first the site of the Waddell farm, across the street from the future Miracle Mile. In the 1920’s the tract was owned by C.B. Waddell, a Hennepin County Commissioner and likely descendant of Sarah E. Waddell, who owned a strip of land along Excelsior Blvd. that ran all the way to 36th Street according to an 1889 map.


ANDERSON CADILLAC

In 1953, Victor E. Anderson of St. Paul paid $14,000 for the Waddell house in order to build Anderson Cadillac, apparently a spinoff of Warren Cadillac. The building was designed by architects Lang & Raugland. Its 16,000 square feet occupied four acres, and featured a glass-enclosed showroom. Victor Anderson was a former director of the Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association. Reuben L. Anderson, Vice President of the new Dealership, was a plumbing and heating contractor, and was said to have held the contract for remodeling the White House in Washington. At the time, Anderson Cadillac was only the second Cadillac dealer in Hennepin County. Two 550 gallon gas tanks were installed on the property.

An ad for Anderson Cadillac in the February 10, 1954 Park High Echo claimed “We will service any make of car.”


 

eb5100cadillacad1953
1953

 


 

5060 Excelsior Blvd. Anderson Cadillac 1957 resize
1957

 

There were several developments in 1956:

  • A second floor addition was built and given a separate address: 5060 Excelsior Blvd. This would become the offices of construction giant Anderson Cherne. (In fact, in 1971, the company was cited for using the premises for storing construction materials.)
  • A steel building was built on the property, over the objections of Mr. Earl F. Anderson who lived on 36th Street.  This may have been the $35,000 expansion that enlarged the building by 7,500 sq. ft. for a new body shop and additional service department.
  • In March Captain Mel Swanson, veteran Northwest Airlines pilot, was appointed to the newly-created position of special Upper Midwest sales representative.  Swanson would continue to work as a pilot as well.
  • An acre of adjoining land was acquired to increase customer parking space.

In 1959 18 creosote-treated pilings had to be sunk in order to support an addition for a parts room.

 


RIVERIA IMPORTS

The site continued to be a car lot. When Anderson Cadillac moved to 7400 Wayzata Blvd. in 1965, it became the site of Riveria Imports. At that time the manager was Louis S. Reiter. The photo below, from 1966, is courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society.  MHS also has a photo of a Riviera Imports at 2538 Hennepin Ave. in Minneapolis taken in 1968.  The company was in St. Louis Park until about 1970.

 

 

5100 Excelsior Blvd. Riviera Import 1969 resize
1969

PENTEL PONTIAC

Next was Pentel Pontiac Used Cars, owned by Ervin Pentel who had operated out of Lake Street for the past 16 years. The lot “by the water tower” was open for business in March 1971 with over 200 cars, and the grand opening was held from April 15-17. Among the dignitaries who attended the ribbon cutting were Mayor Frank Howard, the Parkettes, personalities from radio stations WMIN and WLOL, four members of the Vikings, Clancy the Cop, Jeanne Arland Peterson, and the Reuben Ristrom Trio. The day was apparently not marred by the fact that Pentel’s name was misspelled on the sign. A reported 2,500 people attended the open house. Curiously, the lot’s advertising claimed it was part of Miracle Mile, which was in fact across the street.

eb5100fiat1971
This ad from October 1971 announced the addition of Fiat to the Pentel Pontiac name.

 

 


 

5100 Excelsior Blvd. Pentel Pontiac. 1971 01 resize
1971

eb5100Pentel1973CD
1973

 

 

 


WILKINS FIAT

In November 1981 it became Wilkins Pontiac Fiat, owned by Mark and Harvey Wilkins – Bill Brellenthin, general manager.

 

 


In 1992 the tanks were dug up and the property purchased by the City Housing Redevelopment Agency. The buildings were demolished in 1993 to make way for the Park Commons redevelopment.  Wilkins moved to Wayzata Blvd.