Simon “Si” (also variously seen as Sy and Cy) Rutherford (born 1893) was a fixture in the Excelsior Blvd. community, selling garden equipment, tractors, etc. He started his business in a garage at 5223 Vincent Ave. in Minneapolis in 1932. He came to St. Louis Park in 1940. One eyewitness reports that he sold “powered garden diggers and a side bar cutter with a BIG gas motor to cut acres and acres.” He and landscape architect Morton Arneson worked together on big landscaping projects after the war. Si had a wife Bernice but no children. He was born in Minneapolis and served in France during WWI. Si is universally remembered as a quiet, hardworking man who made a lasting contribution to St. Louis Park.
Tracing the history of Si Rutherford’s business isn’t easy, especially concerning the location of his first stores. A 1941 ad for the S.J. Rutherford Co. indicates an address of 5505 Excelsior – and advertises Christmas Trees for 50 cents. Hard to say where that was, as it puts it in the middle of the Excelsior/100 intersection.
Ads from 1941-52 give the address 5005 Excelsior.
An article in 1948 indicates that he opened a new store on May 7. The building was described as having white siding trimmed with stone and bright green shutters, with a huge front window facing the Boulevard. The basement clubroom featured a big fireplace and a kitchenette. There was also a large “service room” in the rear addition. Accountants Sandvig and Sandvig had offices on the second floor. This site, also 5005 Excelsior, had to be moved in 1953 to make way for the eastern section of Miracle Mile. He sold it to the Permastone Twin Cities Co., owned by John Schold and Sons, “It pays to put up a good front.” Schold moved the building west down the street to 6111 Excelsior Blvd.
Speaking of Miracle Mile, in the 1930’s, that land was remembered as a pasture for tethered Jersey cows, and there was a big sign where Snyder’s Drug Store was that said “For Sale cheap because of non-payment of taxes.” Si bought at least part of it for $25 per lot. In 1952, Sheldon-Thomas came to town to develop Miracle Mile. When Si heard about the plans for the shopping center, he was heard to say, “I’ll never have to work again!”
Si then built a new store in 1952, two doors east of the new Miracle Mile, at 4995 Excelsior Blvd. (It is possible that Sheldon-Thomas had this building built for him.) The new building had a meeting room in the back that he rented to the Jaycees and other groups, as well as for weddings, birthday parties and such. He again rented out the second floor to Sandvig and Sandvig.
Si stayed in business until at least 1954, and the “Rutherford Building” sign was up for many years. Si died in 1985.