The oldest house still standing in the City was built in 1874. It is generally referred to as the Westling House for the family that owned it from 1942 to 2008. The milestones in the life of the house include:
The original part of the house was built.
The house was added onto, as evidenced by “1884” etched in the cement, and a copy of an 1884 newspaper found in the wall during a subsequent renovation. News of the day was a visit to Minnesota by General Grant.
Maps show the property belonging to Mary M. Bruce.
During prohibition the place was a speakeasy, decorated with umbrellas, and featuring a magic cistern – pull on a rope to retrieve the hooch.
Belmont Tavern and Belmont Stables were both listed in the City’s first directory.
Only Belmont Tavern was listed in the directory. A.J. Rowan requested a license to sell beer, although a Mr. Vader Van Slyke was listed as the owner of the Tavern.
On August 12, 1935, Emily Knoss from Hopkins was accused of selling intoxicating liquor at the Belmont Tavern address. She was fined $25, but it was suspended and discharged.
The property and acres of land were purchased by Richard J. and Marlys Westling. As early as 1939, the Westlings had raised produce and chickens on land they rented at 31st and Louisiana. The Westlings also farmed at their new location, and raised chickens and pigs.
The Westlings subdivided the property (West Lynn) and built 65 homes. Mrs. Westling designed the houses. Drawings of the homes were found in the barn when the property was sold in 2008 and are being stored by the St. Louis Park Historical Society.
The Westlings named the streets in the subdivision, which the City said had to be named after patriotic themes. Thus, they named:
Aquila: Mrs. Westling originally wanted to name it Aragon, but it was deemed too close to Oregon. Then she found a book called Action at Aquila, which described a Civil War battle where 8 men were killed. The 1938 novel was written by Hervey Allen (who also wrote Anthony Adverse in 1933, which Warner Bros. made into a major motion picture in 1936, starring Fredric March, Olivia de Havilland, Claude Rains, and Gale Sondergard, and directed by Mervyn LeRoy).
Boone: This street was named in honor of Mrs. Westling’s shirt-tail relative, Daniel Boone; she had to show the Village evidence of a battle named Boone to get it approved.
A new room was added to the front of the house, with a kind of hunting den look.
The Westling family sold the property to Peter Knaeble and Matt Pavek, who subdivided it into four lots. The original plans were to tear down the house, and photos reveal a unique decor in a home that had not been updated since the 1970s.
The St. Louis Park Historical Society worked with the developers to convince them of the historic nature of the city’s oldest home, and it was renovated and saved. Original flooring was discovered buried under layers of tile, linoleum, and carpet.
Plans for the homes in the West Lynn subdivision were discovered in the barn (along with copious amounts of bird droppings).
The barn had to be torn down to make room for the new homes, but some of the wood was salvaged.
The address has been changed to 2950 Aquila Ave. So. to reflect the fact that the driveway is on Aquila. The home remains our City’s oldest residence.