Many think of Edina as a suburb built in the 1950s but, in fact, the Village of Edina and its rolling fertile hills were first incorporated as a farming community in the 1880s. A 1923 Minnesota law stated that communities with a population of more than 225,000 were authorized to convene a park board and to designate land for parks. The charge of a parks commission also included recreational programs, beautification and maintenance such as snow and ice removal, and lighting.
An article published in 1930 in The Crier, a newspaper “for the residents of the Country Club District,” argued the case for a park system, asserting that “the natural beauty of the Minnehaha Creek and the Mill Pond is the envy of many of the surrounding district. The establishment of a park board at this time would make possible the acquiring of such properties by the values are still low.”
Edina was the first suburb in Hennepin County to appoint a planning commission (1929) and to fluoridate municipal water. The 1956 opening of Southdale Shopping Center, the country’s first indoor mall, ushered in an unprecedented population boom, and with the people came children—lots of them. In 1957 the city held a referendum to build additional parks, with the goal to have a park within walking distance of every home. By 1965, the number of parks and gardens in Edina had jumped from one to 22.
Edina has come full circle, embracing its rural past with 44 extant parks today. Edinans even have the opportunity take care of a park with the Adopt-a-Park volunteer public service program. With a two-year commitment to two litter sweeps per year, citizens can give back to the public gardens, parks and places that so enrich their daily lives. Here are some whys, wherefores, and points of interest in our rich and exceptional verdant community.
A BRIEF TIMELINE
1888 Edina incorporated as a municipality.
1909 Plat filed for Browndale Park by Frank and Florence Mackey.
1930 Park Board established in Village of Edina; three Park Commissioners elected.
1945 First Legion baseball team formed.
1949 First hockey rink constructed at Arden Park.
1949 First Midget baseball team formed.
1955 Full time park and recreation staff hired.
1953 Task force of 21 Edinans conduct large recreation and park survey.
1957 Park board issues $700,000 for purchase of park property and municipal swimming pool.
1959 First combined school/park: Cornelia school park.
1964 First round of golf played at Braemar Golf Course.
1971 Brian Wippermann Memorial Gun Range opened.
1972 Edina Soccer Association established.
1974 Edina Girls’ Athletic Association established.
1975 Tupa Historical Park opened.
1976 Arneson Acres dedicated.
1977 Edina Art Center opened.
1980 Thirty-four parks mark reached in Edina
1982 Morten Arneson donates home and acreage to the city of Edina.
1987 Edinborough Park opened.
1991 Centennial Lakes opened.
2005 Grandview Square Park opened.
2012 John Keprios retires after 35 years at Parks and Recreation Department; Ann Kattreh takes over.
2013 Edina Parks and Recreation Department oversees more than 40 parks and more than 1,555 acres.
OLDEST: Browndale Park
Facilities: Softball diamond, sledding hill, warming house, basketball courts, playground, picnic tables, nature area
The federal government first surveyed the land that would become Browndale Park in 1854. In 1894, Henry Brown converted it into a 77-acre farm and called it Browndale. Brown sold the future Browndale Park portion of his farm to the wealthy British socialites Frank J. and Florence Mackey in 1909. Between 1889 and 1925, the park’s borders were disputed, and claimed by Edina and St. Louis Park, sometimes within the same atlas. Now the park is a small, unassuming lot in a residential neighborhood and straddles both St. Louis Park and Edina. Located on Minnehaha Creek, the space offers places of quiet respite, with benches for reflection along the babbling brook. 4510 Browndale Ave.; 952.926.0150
BIGGEST: Braemar Park
Facilities: Golf course, three indoor ice rinks, ice skating lessons and skate rental
The first round of golf was played in Braemar Park in 1964. The park was named Braemar as a tribute to Edina’s early Scottish settlers and because golf is a Scottish game (there is a Braemar village and golf course in Scotland). The golf course in Edina has been rated among the top 75 public golf courses in the country and the top course for women golfers. Braemar Arena, home to the Braemar-City of Lakes Figure Skating Club, the Edina Hornets hockey teams and the Edina Hockey Association, played a key role in the development of Edina’s excellent youth and high school hockey leagues. Lush rolling hills, lakes and pristine oak ridges make this a perfect site for recreation. 6364 John Harris Dr.; 952.903.5760
MOST SHELTERED: Edinborough Park
Facilities: Olympic-sized swimming pool, track and fitness area, playground, amphitheater, café, banquet hall
This unique park is completely enclosed, creating a welcome respite during our long Minnesota winters. Hundreds of plants and flowers bisected by winding pathways create an enchanted garden far removed from the vicissitudes of weather. The city oasis hosts free cultural events such as movies, dance, music, art exhibitions and theater. Kids will want to spend hours on the spectacular “Adventure Peak,” a 30-foot tall oak tree rigged with a triple wave slide, four giant tube slides and a lookout perch. The park is named after Scotland’s capital, another nod to Edina’s early Scottish settlers. 7700 York Ave. S; 952.833.9540
NEWEST: Grandview Square Park
Facilities: Edina Senior Center, Edina Community Library
Grandview Square Park is Edina’s most recent park. It is part of the Grandview Square development, which includes the Edina Senior Center and the Edina Community Library. The senior center boasts more than 1,500 members in Edina, offering field trips, classes, entertainment, recreation, health services and more. Grandview Square Park hosts an annual member’s juried art exhibit and is one of the city’s three outdoor public art locations for the Edina Public Art Committee, which chooses sculptures that change annually. 5280 Grandview Square
MOST MULTIUSE: Centennial Lakes
Facilities: 1.5 miles of paved pathways, lake, paddleboats, fishing, croquet, lawn bowling, banquet facilities, maze, 1,000-seat amphitheater, ice rink, concession stand
Centennial Lakes Park is Edinborough Park’s sister park, built over a period of 12 years, with final completion in 2001. It hosts a wealth of summer and winter activities, from the Edina Model Yacht Club races to Norwegian ice sledding. September’s Fall into the Arts Festival gathers 200 exhibitors displaying original sculpture, photography, painting, jewelry and more, drawing more than 200,00 visitors from the surrounding area. On Thursdays in the summertime, a farmer’s market takes over the walkways outside Hughes Pavilion with a bounty of flowers, fruit, vegetables, meat, cheese, bread and more. The Hughes Pavilion stays open throughout the winter. Named after city manager Gordon Hughes, who retired in 2010, it welcomes skaters and sledders with three roaring fireplaces. 7499 France Ave. S.; 952.833.9580
MOST HISTORIC: Frank Tupa Park
Facilities: living history field trips, summer day camp, historic buildings
This historic park is named after Frank Tupa, who served on the City Council and was a charter member of the Edina Historical Society. The park is located across the street from Edina’s City Hall and is home to the Old Cahill School (1864) and the Minnehaha Grange Hall (1879), which are overseen by the Edina Historical Society. Both buildings are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Grange Hall was the meeting place for the Edina Village Council between 1888 and 1942; the Cahill School operated as a classroom from 1894-1958. The buildings were moved to this spot in 1969. This park is more of a museum, featuring interpretive programs with costumed guides where kids can experience a day in a 1900s classroom. This is a favorite stop for Little House on the Prairie fans. 4916 Eden Ave.; 952.448.4022
MOST GARDENS: Arneson Acres Park
Facilities: 28 garden beds, greenhouse, gazebo, nursery, plant sale, flower show, Edina Historical Society and Museum
Norwegian transplants Morten and Katherine Arneson donated their home and land to the City of Edina in 1969. The Arneson house now hosts the Historical Society and Museum and the Edina Garden Council, which oversees seven garden clubs and 28 different garden beds. Visitors may stroll through an array of mini ecosystems such as a wildflower garden, lily garden, hosta glade and perennial borders. The terrace, gazebo and fountain were donated by the garden club in 2006 and are a popular spot for weddings and proms. A memory garden has a grove of white oaks grown from Frank Tupa Park acorns; people are welcome to donate plantings in memory of a loved one. The gingko grove was planted for Edina’s centennial in 1988; don’t miss the adjacent crabapples, daffodils, azaleas and magnolias. 4711 W. 70th St.; 952.826.0437
MOST PICTURESQUE: Rosland Park
Facilities: Water park, playground, tennis courts, disc golf
Formerly Lake Cornelia Park, Rosland Park was named after former park director and city manager Kenneth Rosland in 1998. This park presents magnificent views of Lake Cornelia and features a fishing dock, baseball field, volleyball court, playground equipment, tennis courts and a special course for the unusual sport of disc (Frisbee) golf. There is a gazebo available to rent for festive events. Rosland Park was the site of the first municipal swimming pool and is also home to the Edina Aquatic Center, a large and popular outdoor summer waterpark. The Edina Art Center, which opened in 1977, occupies the western edge of the park and holds painting, ceramics and media arts classes, as well as the “Biggest Little Pottery Department in Minnesota” and the Margaret Foss Gallery. 4300 W. 66th St.; 952.826.0367