The stained glass wall on the east side of Edina City Hall is exactly where it should be: close to the site of Edina Mill. Its blue, gold and green shapes, highlighted with copper, feature elements of Edina’s history: the circle of gold glass at the top of the two-story window represents the water wheel of Edina Mill, which turned just a few blocks from this site more than 150 years ago. On the north side of the window, a column of blue glass symbolizes the falls of Minnehaha Creek. The beautiful and balanced composition of this window emphasizes how crucial Minnehaha Creek was to the development of our community.
The artist of the window is Michael Pilla, a glass artist in Menomonie, Wisconsin. Pilla creates windows for homes, churches, libraries and many other commissions and projects. He also restores historic stained glass. The geometry in the window at Edina City Hall reflects the arts and craft style often visible in Pilla’s art, and one of his signature technical characteristics is used here as well: Copper plates and clips (rather than lead or zinc) are placed over the joints and glass to reinforce the points where these come together, adding strength and color to his windows.
Looking through the window from the City Hall staircase, we see our active, busy city—traffic on 50th Street along with bikers and pedestrians. Pilla’s creative stained glass depicts the energy and enterprise of the late 1800s, and his references to Edina’s history and landscape resonate with the nearby commemoration of these landmarks and their contribution to Edina’s story.
Contributed by Laura Westlund, a tour guide at the Weisman Art Museum and an art hound for Minnesota Public Radio.