Arguably the oldest and most historically prestigious neighborhood in St. Louis Park is now known as the Elmwood neighborhood. Back in the early days of the 20th Century it was known simply as “Center.”
ST. LOUIS PARK CENTRE
The plat of “St. Louis Park Centre” was filed by Calvin Goodrich, President, and Hiram Truesdale, Secretary, of the St. Louis Park Land and Improvement Company on April 30, 1887. It was approved by the Village Council on May 2, 1887, and recorded in Hennepin County on May 7, 1887. Of the hundreds of lots on the original plat, 36 remain in their original configuration. Jorvig Park (probably then called Central Park) was part of the plat.
An unusual aspect of the original plat is that it is in two noncontiguous areas. The largest piece is bounded by St. Louis Ave. (now Walker Street) on the north, Highway 1 (now Wooddale) on the east, the middle of the block between Summit (now Oxford) and Goodrich on the south, and West Street N. (a line approximately straight south of Lake and Walker) on the west. The Minneapolis and St. Louis and the Milwaukee Road tracks are extant, but not the Dan Patch or Highway 7. Although it was all divided into residential lots, only the area south of the tracks became what we think of now as Elmwood. The importance of the railroad to the community is shown by the fact that the streets are identified as N, S, E, and W in relation – not to a main street – but to the tracks.
The other, much smaller portion of the original plat is bounded by the tracks on the south, Webster Ave. to the east, a line approximately between 33rd and 34th on the north, and an unusual curve from Zarthan to the tracks on the west. This area has been bifurcated by Highway 7 and replatted.
THE HOMES OF ELMWOOD
Many of the homes in Elmwood were built in the 1890s. This is the result of two factors. First, TB Walker and his syndicate (the St. Louis Park Land and Improvement Co.) had set their sights on St. Louis Park to become a village of factories, and despite a financial Depression in 1893, many did come.
But most importantly, the Monitor Drill farm implement factory came to town, bringing workers of all levels, all needing housing. Some of the first houses had been built by the company in what has become known as Skunk Hollow, and had to be hauled up to Center, also known as “Quality Heights.” Many employees of the Creosote plant lived in the neighborhood as well.
BLIGHT AND REDEVELOPMENT
A look at the 1920 and 1930 census indicates that many of the turn-of-the-last century homes have been lost, many replaced in the 1950s. The area, so beautiful today, became run down in the 1970s, and there was much discussion about how to deal with the problem.
In December 1986, the 37th Street/Dakota Avenue area was the subject of a study for redevelopment. As a result of a proposed and then abandoned street realignment, the City owned several properties, many of which were dilapidated and/or vacant. The study covered a five acre area, and proposals included vacating Dakota Ave. and/or placing a water reservoir at the site.
One redevelopment plan was submitted to the City in July 1987 by a group called the Milwaukee Junction Partnership, led by Park resident Therese B. Samudio. The plan covered the area bounded by Dakota, Oxford, Colorado, and 37th Street. In this area were several 100 year old homes, some in advanced states of disrepair. Four original homes would be restored, and others torn down and replaced with 12 “matching” houses. Restrictions would be placed on the look of the exteriors of the new homes. The number of homes in the area would have been 20, as opposed to the 13 that are there now. The proposed new homes were small, some with two bedrooms and one bath, and all had only single car garages.
Eventually the City sold its property to private homeowners who in a few cases combined lots and built new houses. Six new homes were built between 1989 and 1991.
THE STREETS OF ELMWOOD
The following is a list of the main streets of Elmwood. Follow each link to a list of the houses on each street. Pictures and information on the homes are provided as available. If you have any additions, corrections, or especially historic photos of these homes, please contact us.