Dorothy grant and leonard palmer were married at Edina’s old Cahill Schoolhouse in the spring of 1935. The wedding photograph provides a window into the varied history of Cahill School and bears witness to a charming event on a lovely spring day many years ago.
Today, Edina’s beloved Cahill School is often teeming with elementary school energy. Thousands of schoolchildren make the trek to Minnesota’s second-oldest standing one-room school house to experience what life was actually like for a rural farm child at the turn of the 20th century.
Built in 1864, Cahill School, named for an Irish priest, was built on a plot of land sold to Hennepin County School District No. 16 for $5. The simple clapboard structure provided a school for area children in grades one through eight. The building was also the original gathering place for members of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church. The congregation met in the schoolhouse for 20 years, until this thriving community outgrew the building.
Local demographics also began to change. The neighborhood surrounding Cahill had been predominantly Irish Catholic. But by the 1930s, as more families moved into the rural area from the cities, the number of Scandinavians in the area grew, as did new faith identities.
In April of 1932, Dorothy Grant and her family moved to Edina, just west of what we now know as Cahill Road. The family had given up a modern Minneapolis home in exchange for a place with more land. Like many in this new settlement wave, Grant and her family were Lutheran. The desire rose among newcomers for the establishment of a Lutheran congregation in Edina. The Cahill School board approved the use of the Cahill Schoolhouse for the newly instituted Calvary Lutheran Church.
Soon after, Grant found herself engaged to Leonard Palmer and planning a wedding. A group of church ladies persuaded the couple to be the first pair to be married in the new church. As Grant would later write in her article, Wedding in a One Room Schoolhouse, “The wedding was on a beautiful Sunday afternoon… and, true to their word, the women in the Ladies’ Aid did transform that unattractive school room to a beautiful garden.”
Palmer would go on to become the first bus driver for students at Cahill School. By 1936, enough students in Edina required transportation that the school district resolved to provide it. Palmer bought a used seven-passenger Packard limousine and used it to furnish rides to and from school.
Even as we still enjoy the historic Cahill School today, it is also wonderful to have a photograph that provides a glimpse into the joy and vigor that’s come in and out of the building’s doors for many years. It also doesn’t take much to imagine the garden created by the Lutheran Ladies’ Aid group on that day in 1935.