According to legend, the naming of Edina in 1888 stopped just short of bloodshed. On one side were the Scots, who favored Edina, a nickname of the Scottish capital Edinburgh. On the other were the Irish, who argued for Killarney Lakes, to honor their native country. The controversy became so intense, according to one embellished retelling, that the meeting broke out in fisticuffs and the Scots voted on Edina after the Irish had gone home.
All are invited to hear the true account of how Edina got its name, as well as other entertaining tales from the city’s 125-year history, at a community-wide Founders’ Day celebration December 12. Festivities begin at 5 p.m. with an open house at historic Cahill School and Minnehaha Grange Hall, where farmers overwhelmingly voted 54-2 to form the Village of Edina on December 12, 1888.
Activities will move across the street at 6 p.m. to Edina City Hall for a social hour and music by the Edina Chorale. The lobby will display a timeline created by the Human Rights and Relations Commission marking Edina’s human rights milestones; the timeline will also include historic photographs.
A 7 p.m. program will feature short readings and songs that “celebrate the people who have created our community over the past 125 years,” says event chair Joni Bennett, who serves on both the Edina City Council and the Edina Historical Society’s Quasquicentennial Committee. Edina’s history will unfold through a series of vignettes, including direct excerpts from residents’ diaries and oral histories. Readings will be interspersed with historically significant songs performed by the Edina Chorale.
The oral history will offer stories ranging from pioneer Sarah Baird’s account of the name controversy to Morningside’s rallying anthem to secede from Edina to Southdale’s public relations stunts in the 1950s. The fast-paced program will hit the highlights of 125 years in 45 minutes. Guests include representatives from the original founding families, federal, state and local elected officials, and perhaps a surprise guest or two. But “the most important guests are the people of Edina,” Bennett notes. “This is an event for the entire community to celebrate what makes Edina what it is today.”
The evening will conclude with a reception sponsored by the City of Edina that will include, of course, cake. Founders’ Day will mark the end of the quasquicentennial celebration year that included a Historic Home Tour, the “EdinaScapes” art show, neighborhood and school reunions, and a history-themed July 4th parade.
For more information about the quasquicentennial, visit edinahistoricalsociety.org.