The following is a partial timeline of the Hennepin County Home School, sometimes known as the Glen Lake School for Boys. This facility is in Minnetonka, but has served St. Louis Park for almost 100 years. Much of this information came from a timeline written by Archie Magnuson in 1978, as provided by Superintendent Terry Wise, with thanks.
The Hennepin County Home School is located at 14300 County Road 62 in Minnetonka. It is adjacent to but not related to the Glen Lake Tuberculosis Sanitarium. The facility is on 167 acres, about 14 miles from Minneapolis.
The Minnesota Legislature provided for “detention home” in Hennepin County under the joint direction of the Judge of the District Court and the Board of County Commissioners.
Juvenile Court Judge John Day Smith, along with the Juvenile Protective League, was instrumental in advocating for the “cottage system farm home” as a way to care for those “too bad for probation, too good for reform school.” The program was patterned after an Illinois facility.
The Hennepin County Commissioners purchased the first 92 acres from farmers John Castek, Frank J. Hamola, and Frank S. Chastek for $11,000. (It is now 167 acres.) With the purchase came a ten room farm house, barn, chicken coop, and other outbuildings. Officially it was the Hennepin County Juvenile Detention Home, but unofficially it was the Glen Lake Farm School for Boys.
The first boys arrived on February 1. In the first year, 54 boys were committed. Offenses included petit and grand larceny, burglary, disorderly conduct, jumping onto moving trains, dependency, general delinquency, driving away a horse without the owner’s consent, sweeping grain cars, and incorrigibility.
Prior to the Home School, “delinquent” and “dependent” boys were sent to the State Training School in Red Wing.
Here is a long quote of unknown origin, although it may be from a speech early in the life of the Home:
Need of Glen Lake. Homes without a conscience, bad social conditions and a weak heredity being oftentimes the cause of law infraction, people are beginning to believe that discipline and a chance to reform rather than punishment should be meted out to an offender. Hence, before relegating a boy to the scrap heap, his home conditions should be closely investigated, and if home, which is his first training quarters, is faulty, the boy is surely worthy of, and entitled anyway to, right home training. Many boys come into juvenile court so begrimed with the dirt, vice, and ignorance of the place called home that anyone can see at a glance they are not having a “square deal.” Glen Lake Farm is a home, and this is good reason for its existence. Other boys have homes that are good but not balanced with a proper proportion of firmness in government. At Glen Lake a boy’s neighborhood and school spirit are soon discovered as well as his general attitude towards society, and if there are evidences of possibilities in his nature, he is given a chance to prove himself by a short stay here. During this brief separation from parents, his home and neighborhood identity are not broken, because his stay is short and because he can earn visits home. Further, his parents are allowed to visit him Sundays. Thus, as at boarding school, he loses nothing in home ties, develops reliance and learns that the law has real authority. If opportunities at the Farm School are not taken advantage of, it is then time enough to send a boy to the long-term discipline of the State Training School.
Architects sketched out plans for the building and location of an administration building, ten cottages, school house, barns, power house, etc.
The first cottage opened, named after Judge John Day Smith. It housed 17 boys in individual rooms.
Guilford Hall, a two story, stucco structure, was built. This cottage stood until 1968.
The Hennepin Home School for Girls was established in September at 4315 Penn Ave. North. It operated until 1953.
The Minneapolis school district provided teaching staff.
A cattle barn, brooder house, horse barn, and machine shed were added about this time.
There was a Grand Jury investigation of the physical deterioration of the facility and the policies and practices of the Administration. It was recommended that the Superintendent be removed.
Waldron Douglas became Superintendent.
The current administration building was built to handle all congregate activities; cottages were only for individual activities.
Ronald W. Russell was one of the Boys at the Home back in 1948-1949. He remembers: “Mrs. Wagner was the Home School lady, Mr. Davis was the Principal Teacher and Mr. and Mrs. W.W. Douglas was the Superintendent of the School. Mr. Palmer was his Assistant. The Bradleys were Counselors. Mrs. Wycoff was a teacher at the school during my time there. I have fond memories of my time at the school and it shaped my adult life in a positive manner. Namely I joined the Navy in 1950-1953 Honorable Discharge and retired from the New York State Dep’t of Corrections after 25 years of service.” Thanks for sharing your story, Ronald.
The Girls’ School program was discontinued, and girls were sent to private institutions, foster care, or the State-operated Home School for Girls at Sauk Centre. During the period between 1953 and 1962, the average daily population of girls at Sauk Center went from 313 to 864.
Dairy and garden work were discontinued.
Late 1950s, early 1960s
The facility reached capacity and then some, with 135-150 boys doubled bunked in the administration building.
Farming was coming to an end, as beef disappeared from the farm.
Ed Sedio became Superintendent.
The program returned to its original concept and emphasis on individualization.
Seven new, 24-bed cottages were dedicated on October 31, including two for girls. Girls entered the program in the fall of 1967, and boys came in the summer of 1968.
Crop farming came to an end.
Bill Holden became Superintendent.