Art Hager was certainly one of the most controversial figures in St. Louis Park’s civic history, working as a policeman during the rough-and-tumble days of the 1930s. See also Police and Crime.
Arthur F. “Art” Hager was born in Minneapolis on January 30, 1890, and moved to St. Louis Park in 1909. The 1910 Census listed him as a grocery salesman. He was a driver for several Minneapolis laundries before he went to work for the Village. He also may have worked for Canfield-Dietrick lumber yard.
Hager built his house at 4177 Webster in Brookside in 1915, according to city records. The photo below, donated by grandson John Hager, dates to about 1920, and shows that the little house was dubbed the “Seldom Inn.”
HAGER THE COP
Hager was appointed to serve as Marshall and Chief of Police by Mayor Kleve Flakne in 1931. A May 15, 1933, article in the Minneapolis Tribune about Art Hager stated that he was the Village’s only policeman, on the beat 24 hours a day. The headline: “24-Hour Policeman Too Busy to Hunt Trouble; ‘Humanism’ Policy Works Out in St. Louis Park. Makes Arrests When Necessary. Orderly Motorists Free of Molestation.” Hager described his predecessors as running a speed trap. When he was first appointed, “I was told to lay off the wholesale arrests and to stop trying to make a ‘one-way bank’ out of the village treasury.” The article went on to detail Hager’s leniency on parkers, drunks, and speeders, as long as they didn’t cause a disturbance.
On October 18, 1933, Hager gave his report as the Village Marshall: 247 radio calls, 192 home calls, found 23 stolen cars, made 7 arrests, investigated 3 holdups and 12 prowlers, helped at 23 auto accidents, and called an ambulance five times.
Later in 1933, Mayor Sewell demoted Hager and made Andy Nelson Chief of Police. On April 9, 1934, Chief Nelson gave him a 30 day suspension for disobedience and neglect of duty and informally advised him to seek another job. Some say it had to do with his handling of the Kidder murder; others say it had to do with the amount of time spent at Reiss’s. After he left the force, Hager did some carpentry and worked at the Metalloy Company. In 1943 and 1944 he ran for Village councilman.
Hager’s wife Harriet (nee Berg) was born in Norway and came to America when she was about four years old. Arthur, Sr. and Harriet had two children:
- Arthur Hager, Jr. was born June 2, 1923. He attended Brookside School and graduated from St. Louis Park High School in 1941. He served as a Marine photographer during WWII and was a successful professional photographer for the Minneapolis Star from 1944 to 1988. He and his wife Marianne built their house at 2737 Colorado in 1949. He died December 29, 1993.
- Beverly Jean Hager lived at the Webster house in 1949. She married Wayne McClow and moved to Florida in the 1950s.
Art Hager, Sr. died in on January 29, 1945 after an unsuccessful operation for a ruptured ulcer. He lived at 2808 Maryland Ave. at the time of his death. In 1947 Harriet Hager worked for the OPA. In 1956 she worked for the Superior Separator Co. She remarried that year and moved to Oregon. The house on Webster was sold to Tom Motzko as rental property in 1956.