Tangletown neighborhood, located in southwest Minneapolis, is bound on the north by 46th Street, on the east by Interstate 35W, on the south by 54th Street and Diamond Lake Road and on the west by Lyndale Avenue South. Minnehaha Creek traverses the southern part of the neighborhood. The name Tangletown alludes to the street layout, which does not follow a traditional grid. Until it was renamed in 1996 the neighborhood’s name was Fuller, after its elementary school named for Margaret Fuller. Fuller was an American feminist, poet, essayist, journalist and educator during the latter half of the 17th century. The school was torn down and the land converted into Fuller Park in 1977. This small park, a center of community life, offers many activities and features a flower garden.
I’ve enjoyed two Tangletown tours by three tour guides with each person having a different experience living in the neighborhood.
Sarah Ellsworth originally moved from Michigan to Minneapolis for law school, and has lived in Tangletown since 2010. She is now an attorney in the Public Defender’s Office in Anoka. Sarah loves all things food related – going out to eat, cooking, and visiting farmers markets. We met at Sweets Bakeshop – a perfect spot for Sarah since she has a dream of owning a bakery of her own some day. Sarah is thrilled that Tangletown has attracted several new restaurants in the past couple of years.
Tom Balcom has lived in the Tangletown neighborhood at 5129 Garfield since 1979. He’s been retired since 2006 from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, where he worked for 33 years. On average, he plays senior softball twice a week, golfs once a week, sings and is active in several programs in his church, Judson Baptist in the Kingfield neighborhood at 41st and Harriet. He’s involved in several issues and projects with the Tangletown Neighborhood Association and the Citizens for the Minnehaha Creek Corridor, and is active in several historical organizations and activities: Minnesota Historical Society, Preservation Alliance of Minnesota, Hennepin History Museum, Preserve Minneapolis, Richfield Historical Society, bus tours and walking tours. Tom is currently writing a book on Minnesota’s Main Streets.
Stephan Bossert, his wife Julie and cats Ozone and X-Ray have lived in their Tangletown home since 2003. In his free-time, Stephan enjoys traveling (has been to 38+ countries,) gardening, welding, woodworking, and walking the streets of Minneapolis. He is currently on a quest to walk every street in Minneapolis, a feat that has only been documented one other time by Francine Corcoran in 2005. Stephan’s walking quest was recently featured in the Star Tribune article, “Stepping lively in city he loves“, that also tells his harrowing tale of surviving a rickshaw accident in Cambodia. I’ve kept in touch with Stephan by joining him on one of his walks and most recently by taking photos of his Garden Bells.
Garden bell, beautiful tone. Hand crafted out of recycled CO2 fire extinguisher tanks. Approximately 12 inches tall and 6 inches wide. Each bell has multiple calendar dates hammered into the side from when it was manufactured and for each time it was pressure tested (about every 5 years). Most of the tanks date back to the mid to late 1950′s. Can be painted any color that you like! Price: $89.00
Email Bossert Metal Arts to purchase your own Garden Bell.
46th Street & Nicollet Avenue Businesses
There are several businesses located near 46th Street and Nicollet Avenue a couple of which were highlighted by my tour guides.
Sarah and I met for our walk at Sweets Bakeshop, a boutique bakery that specializes in cupcakes, French macarons and catering. Sweets Bakeshop often uses fun ingredients in their cupcakes and currently is featuring a chocolate and beer cupcake made with local brewer, Fulton Beer’s “The Worthy Adversary”, a Russian Imperial Stout.
Sun Street Breads, owned by renowned baker, Solveig Tofte and her husband, Martin Ouimet is described as “a straight-up American Bakery Cafe, with made-from-scratch artisan breads and pastries, cookies and pies, and a few cakes.” Sun Street Breads also serves hot breakfasts, lunches and recently added dinner. Sun Street Breads was recently reviewed by We Got Served and is covered continuously by Heavy Table as their offerings have evolved since opening in Spring 2011.
There are many other businesses on the corner of 46th and Nicollet and I hope to explore them with you in the near future! If you’d like to introduce me to the places we didn’t visit, please fill out the Tour Guide form.
Diamond Lake Road & Nicollet Avenue Businesses
Tangletown Gardens is owned by Scott Enders and Dean Englemann. An overview of the two rom the Tangletown Gardens website:
We are both University of Minnesota Horticulture alumni, and we have more than 25 years experience in teaching, research, plant production, design and garden center management. We share a common passion, love and desire for what we do, and our business is truly an expression of us.
When I heard that Liberty Frozen Custard was closing, I was devastated. For years, Scott and I walked to the refurbished 1950′s gas station for the best frozen custard either of us have ever had. My concerns of the unique building being neglected were short-lived because I learned that Scott Enders and Dean Englemann were going to expand their business and transform it into a beautiful farm-to-table eatery that delights all of the senses. Read reviews of Wise Acre Eatery by Heavy Table, Minneapolis/St. Paul Magazine, and local blogger, Nikol of Hubba Hubba Ding Dong.
Sarah wanted to make sure we stopped by Diamond Lake Ace Hardware, her go-to place when working on home projects. She likes the personalized attention she receives the moment she walks in the door.
Diamond Lake Ace Hardware
5425 Nicollet Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN
Diamond Lake Road & Lyndale Avenue Businesses
Stephan Bossert highly suggests a trip to South Lyndale Liquors, voted in 2010 as City Page’s Best Liquor Store! They recently added murals by Erin Sayer which includes scenes of a St. Bernard, a tribute to their former shop dog, Abby. South Lyndale Liquors is technically in the Lynnhurst neighborhood.
The majority of the tour led by Tom and Stephan was focused on the history of Tangletown. Tom, also known as “Tour Guide Tom”, regularly offers historic walking tours of Tangletown and I feel tremendously lucky to have gotten a personal tour led by this neighborhood historian and all around amazing Minneapolis citizen. I highly recommend you check out the Preserve Minneapolis 2012 historic walking tour schedule which should be released in March.
We met outside of Washburn Public Library (technically in the Lynnhurst neighborhood) so that Tom could give us an overview of the history of the Tangletown neighborhood which used to be known as Washburn Park and then Fuller and became Tangletown in 1996. Learn more about the early days of this area by reading the Southwest Minneapolis Patch article, “History: When Tangletown was Washburn Park.”
The Washburn Public Library is named for flour magnate and U.S. Senator William D. Washburn, founder of the Washburn-Crosby Milling Company, this library pays tribute to the Minneapolis’s milling history. The original Washburn-Crosby millstone was donated in 1971 by General Mills.
The existing limestone block bridge will be torn down in winter/spring 2012 and will be closed to traffic beginning January 17. Details included on the Hennepin County website. Tom is certain that they will find archaeological evidence of the old Richfield Flour Mill.
We walked along the Minnehaha Creek and then ventured into the tangled streets to view the beautiful homes within the neighborhood.
Tom and his wife take great pride in their Tangletown home and have taken extra effort to maintain the architectural integrity while updating the home for their needs. They worked with an architect when adding the front porch so it would blend with the rest of the house.
Actor in the 1950′s I Led Three Lives, Richard Carlson and his family lived at 5103 Garfield Avenue South.
A description of the Washburn Park Water Tower from the City of Minneapolis website:
Historic Profile: The Washburn Park Water Tower was the cooperative venture of three individually distinguished men in their respective fields. Harry Wild Jones, the architect, was responsible for several other notable structures including the Butler Square Building and the Lakewood Cemetery Chapel. The water tower sculptures were designed by John K. Daniels, a well known local artisan, who also designed the milling figures on the Washburn Flour Mills Utility Building. The consulting engineer, William S. Hewitt, was the inventor of the Hewitt System of reinforced concrete construction. The Washburn Tower suggests a strong medieval feeling; its cylindrical dome is like a Roman warrior’s helmet. Eight hooded knights surround the tower in perpetual vigilance while, overhead, eight eagles stand, as if pausing in flight, atop the evenly spaced pilasters.
The above tower is actually the second tower at the site. The photograph and sketch below captures what the tower looked like from 1893 to 1931. To learn more about the Washburn Park Tower, read the PDF article “A Tale of Two Towers: Washburn Park and Its Water Supply” by Tom Balcom.
Harry Wild Jones was an architect and in 1887 was the first non-farming resident of Washburn Park neighborhood which is now known as Tangletown. As stated above, he was the architect for the Washburn Park Tower and as well as Butler Square Building (Downtown West) and Lakewood Cemetery Memorial Chapel (East Harriet). The sketch on the right is of “The Rustic Lodge”, designed in 1884 but never built.
The work of Harry Wild Jones continues to be celebrated today by the Harry Wild Jones Society, a group of owners of his designs and others who appreciate his contributions. They have mapped his known structures around the Twin Cities, including his own home, built in 1887 at 1 Elmwood Place, near 51st Street and Nicollet Avenue South.
Unless you know to look for them, it is easy to pass the four Lustron homes located on Nicollet Avenue. When you do notice them, you’ll most likely want to linger awhile (even more reason to explore by bike or foot) because these prefabricated homes developed by the Lustron Corporation between 1947 and 1950 are some of the most unique homes in Minneapolis. The Minn Post article “Exploring Nicollet Avenue’s unusual Lustron houses” by Steve Date does a great job of explaining the history of the Lustron Corporation and gives insight into why this style of home was short-lived. This video was created by Steve Date and gives us a peek into the unique characteristics of the interior. The Nokohaha blog featured the nine Lustron homes in Minneapolis which includes a couple on Cedar Avenue South in the Field neighborhood.
This eye-catching stucco home used to be a church parsonage and was moved to its current location when I-35 was constructed.
Once home to “Peanuts” cartoonist, Charles Schulz, 112 Minnehaha Parkway was under construction during our tour. I also learned from this 1997 Star Tribune article that he used to live in my neighborhood of Armatage at 5521 Oliver Avenue South.
In one of the front yards along Minnehaha Parkway, we discovered and practically tripped over this marker. We are guessing it is a public works marker and can surmise that the C and M are City of Minneapolis but we can’t be certain about the rest. If you know any details, add them in the comments below, please!
All of my tour guides mentioned the Minnehaha Creek as one of their favorite places within the neighborhood. Most would agree since the biking and walking trails (part of the Grand Round National Scenic Byway) are heavily used year-round and in the warm months, canoes, kayaks and makeshift rafts can be seen floating down the creek.
Most years, this hill is converted into a popular sledding hill. Kids and adults alike ride down it only to be stopped by bales of hay. I was going to include a winter-time photo for this post but Mother Nature has other plans for the hill this year.
More Tangletown Homes
Walking through Tangletown, there is so much to see. Even the doors on the homes have gained attention. Elizabeth Vandam wrote “The doors of Tangletown : a historical reflection of Washburn Park” and talks about the book in this Southwest Journal article.
The homeowners in Tangletown take pride in the beautification of their property. Many homeowners show off their personality with their choice in landscaping and garden accessories like this vintage bench.
I had the opportunity to tour Stephan and Julie Bossert’s Tangletown home. It is absolutely gorgeous and filled with artistic details.
The Bosserts repurposed a vintage library card catalog cabinet as their wine storage.
Throughout their home, Stephan has on display furniture and art pieces made by his own two hands. I hope to commission a book tower from him. As mentioned above, contact Bossert Metal Arts for more information on his pieces.
From the Ramsey School website:
Built in 1931, Ramsey School, Performing Arts Magnet is named after Minnesota’s first territorial governor and second state governor, Alexander Ramsey. Our school has gone through several transitions over the years, and now serves as one of two fine arts magnets for the Minneapolis school system. We are home for about 1,000 students from kindergarten through eighth grade. We offer learning in and through the fine arts to all of our students. Those arts areas include theatre, dance, strings, band, choirs, and visual and graphic arts.
The vision of Washburn High School as stated on their website:
To provide students with an education that promotes academic, artistic and athletic achievement. All students have access to challenging course work, delivered by committed staff, creating an environment of high expectations. In this thriving international school community, young people from all cultures and diverse backgrounds are understood and respected.
Tangletown Books & Articles
Tangletown has been featured in several books, four of which Tom showcased above. Tom is a role model for neighborhood historians and a great example of someone who has become knowledgeable of the history of their place in the world and shared it with others. I know several of my tour guides could follow in Tom’s steps and publish their Minneapolis discoveries for others to enjoy for many years.
- Tangletown Neighborhood Association website
- Tangletown Neighborhood Association Facebook group
- Citizens for the Minnehaha Creek Corridor website
- Citizens for the Minnehaha Creek Corridor Facebook page
- City of Minneapolis Tangletown neighborhood profile
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