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Lynnhurst During World War I

Around the time of the first world war, Lynnhurst was a rapidly growing district on the fringe of the city, not unlike the Woodburys or Eden Prairies of the 1990s. Blocks of medium-to-large sized stucco homes sprang up between 1910 and 1920 on the east side of Lake Harriet and were quickly filled by families with young children.

One such block of new homes, the 4700 block of Aldrich Ave. S., was visited by Agnes Taaffe of the Minneapolis Daily News during the war for her column “Getting Acquainted With Minneapolis.” In the column, Ms. Taaffe describes “one of the most beautiful blocks in the Lynnhurst district” with its “beautiful stuccoed homes” and “flower boxes fill with lovely blossoms.”

The only thing that marred the beauty of the block, reported Ms. Taaffe, was a “little old tumble-down shack” at the middle of the block. The shack was once a district school in the days when the block  was outside the city limits. Residents assured her that the shack would soon be razed and the grounds beautified, which apparently occurred a short time later.

Gardening was more than a hobby to these early neighborhood residents; war gardens were planted and everyone planned to have “at least 50 quarts of fruit and vegetables put away for the winter.” The Wescotts at 4725 had a 2-lot garden that extended back to Lyndale, full of 2-pound tomatoes, corn, beans and cucumbers. The Carlins at 4733 were very proud of the 18-ft. tall sunflowers they had around the backyard garden, while Mr. Kildern at 4716 talked about his farm at 60th and Penn Ave. S., where he grew flax and potatoes.

Today, much on this block and throughout the entire neighborhood remains the same. The war gardens are gone, but residents’ pride in their homes, yards and flowers is still very apparent, making Lynnhurst a beautiful area to call home.

Thanks to Mary Nickel for sharing the Minneapolis Daily News article from her personal archives.

– Mike O’Brien, 1998

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