A Historical Guide to St. Louis Park

From railroad ties and farming innovation to a post-World War II growth spurt and commercial expansion, St. Louis Park, Minnesota grew from a tiny village of 45 people to a thriving city of more than 48,000 across a 115-year time span. Located just minutes West of Minneapolis, history buffs and curious travelers alike can discover more about the rich history of the quaint Twin Cities suburb by exploring some of these popular museums and other historical points of interest.

The Milwaukee Road Depot

St. Louis Park was named after the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railroad. Villages like St. Louis Park relied on railroads to get to and from Minneapolis and other points west. Railroad enthusiasts may want to swing by the Milwaukee Road Depot, which was built in 1887, one year after St. Louis Park was incorporated. The depot was originally located right on the tracks at 36th Street and Alabama Avenue.

Passenger service ended in 1955 and the Depot was eventually donated to the city and moved to Jorvig Park (6210 W. 37th Street). It was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1969 and the building remains a historical landmark. Set up an appointment to view this historic landmark.

Peavey-Haglin Experimental Grain Elevator

St. Louis Park is proudly home to the Peavey-Haglin Experimental Grain Elevator, which is the world’s first-known cylindrical concrete grain elevator. Grain merchant Frank Peavey wanted to make a safer alternative to wooden grain elevators which were susceptible to catching fire. He hired civil engineer Charles F. Haglin and together they developed an experimental concrete grain elevator. Their design worked and thereby revolutionized the industry, with concrete elevators being used ever since.

After standing unused for years, Nordic Ware cookware company purchased the land the elevator was on and restored it in 1969. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 and declared a National Historic Landmark in 1981. The renowned cylindrical tower currently stands near the intersection of State Highways 7 and 100 and overlooks the Nordic Ware Factory and Cedar Lake Trail.

Pavek Museum of Broadcasting

Learn about the history of broadcast communications at The Pavek Museum (3517 Raleigh Ave.) which is home to over 12,000 square feet of antique radios, TVs, and telecommunications devices. It includes the Minnesota Broadcasting Hall of Fame, the Jack Mullin Collection, which documents the history of recording technology and features the AEG Magnetophon tape recorder and the unique RCA Theremin instrument. Browse an extensive collection of captivating, educational exhibits and learn about interactive children’s workshopsspecial events and more.

Minnesota Streetcar Museum

Get transported back to the days when the streetcar was a predominant form of transportation with a visit to the Minnesota Streetcar Museum (2330 W. 42nd St.) in Minneapolis. Visitors can ride one of the museum’s fleet of eight historic streetcars and enjoy a trip through historic Excelsior on the Excelsior Streetcar Line or a scenic lake jaunt on the Como-Harriet Streetcar Line. Special stops along the routes allow views of historical transportation photo galleries, historic displays, other streetcars and more.

Lyon County Historical Museum

Lyon County was organized in 1870 on the southwestern edge of the Minnesota River Valley. Located less than three hours west of Minneapolis and St. Louis Park, the Lyon County Historical Museum (301 West Marshall St.) in Marshall contains three floors of carefully preserved mix of semi-permanent and temporary exhibit galleries. Marshall is notably home to Schwan Foods headquarters and you can see a replica of a Schwan’s Ice Cream Shop at the museum, along with a Veterans’ Honor Wall, Life on the Prairie exhibit and more.

Lilac Park

Over 52 parks and miles of gorgeous trails are scattered throughout St. Louis Park for you to explore, many of which remain an indelible part of the suburb’s history. Lilac Park (Minnesota 7 Service Rd.) was formerly named St. Louis Park Roadside Park. It was built in 1939 on the western edge of the Twin Cities Metro, as one of several parks lining Highway 100, which was also known as “Lilac Way” or “The Beltline, due to the scores of lilacs and other beautiful flora which populated the lush surrounding landscape. Historic highlights at the renovated park include the restored beehive fireplace, council ring, and stone picnic tables and benches. Easily access the scenic Cedar Lake Regional Trail.

Roller Garden

Roll back the hands of time while you take an exciting spin around Roller Garden (5622 West Lake St.). This historic, family-friendly roller and inline skating center has been entertaining people for over 75 years at the same location. Glide across beautiful hardwood floors while you skate to music piping through a superb sound system. Enjoy snacks, beverages and browse souvenirs to make your experience complete!