This House

Location: 3540 Snelling Avenue

It occurred to me today that next week will be the finish of six months with this project. My overarching opinion is what a treat this has been to be held to a commitment made, to go out every Friday and carry my camera and dig around this community to see what I can see. My unexpected joy has been discovering both Snelling and Dight (formerly known as: Railroad) Aves. From start to finish, these avenues hold surprise after surprise – nugget after nugget.

The history surrounding these streets is really the history of our neighborhood and the reason we are able to be here today – those starkly, lovely elevators and the supporting railroads. Without those, Minneapolis’ milling history would not be; without those our remarkable lumber/sawmill and millwork history would not be. And later our foundry and factory history would not be. No Pillsbury (or Betty Crocker!), General Mills, or Cargill. And no Toro lawn mowers.

The city built up around Fort Snelling and the direct access from the fort to the river is what we know as Hiawatha (Highway 55). These neighborhoods were homes to the people who worked the railroads and worked in the elevators, mills, sawmills and more.

This house caught my attention not only because its house numbers are the same as mine, but that the landscaping is so lovely, and incorporates the beautiful elevator, making it seem as though it’s not a massive building but rather a part of the surrounding topography.

The year before this house was built (1912), Security Foundry was built at 3042. They manufactured stoves, and furnace fittings. The ‘Security Boiler’ was created and plugged as the new development in heating efficiency. Four years after this house was built, Toro moved into the area under the name of Minneapolis Steel and Machinery Company building engines for the Bull Tractor. They took over the Security building as well as other locations on Snelling (by the end they amassed 70,000 square feet of Snelling Ave real estate through various properties). During WWI they began making artillery shells and ultimately, lawn mowers. They were in MPLS until 1962 when they moved to Bloomington.

All that and more was going on while this house was just a starter-home, new construction – perhaps even ‘low income housing’. Call it what you will – this house embraces and represents a piece of our history.

Photo: Jean Des Marais

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