The St. Louis Park Historical
Society has possession of various PTA scrapbooks that have
been made over the years. Information from those books
appears in this section, and gives us an insight into the
concerns that parents had during the baby boom years.
Brookside School was the brainchild of the South Side Civic
Club (later the Brookside Civic Club), which first organized
on May 4, 1921. A neighborhood school was the group’s first
priority, and they resolved to vote against a proposed
$90,000 Lake Street Bond Issue for a school until Brookside
had a school. They prevailed, and construction of Brookside School was
in the fall of 1921. It was was located on a two-acre
site at the corner of Aurora [Vernon] Avenue and Isabelle
[41st Street] facing 41st Street.
At the meeting on December
13, 1921, members voted on the name Brookside over Minnehaha,
Taft, Backus, and Brookdale. (Backus was the name of the
dentist who built the house at 4230 Vernon in 1915.)
On August 27, 1922, the Minneapolis Morning Tribune
reported that Judge Frank M. Nye was to speak at the
community housewarming. The school cost $40,000.
It was designed by Stebbins & Haxby, architects, and Cyrus
Y. Bissell associate. It was constructed by Simon
Simonson. The article described it as follows:
It is a two-story brick, tile and reinforced concrete
building, with exterior facing of variegated brick
trimmed with Indiana limestone. The interior wood
work is of birch stained walnuit, with floors of white
maple. The building contains four class rooms,
each seating 35 pupils, a community room with kitchen,
wardrobe, an office and library room. It is modern
Brookside has served the Brookside neighborhood as a church meeting place, voting
station, fallout shelter, and WWII ration book and stamp
In 1922 the South Side Civic Club discussed the acquisition
of two lots on Aurora (Vernon) Ave. in order to expand the
On January 25, 1926, a bond issue of $35,000 to enlarge
Brookside School was passed in a landslide. The school was
expanded to add four more classrooms. It was at this
time that the current front doors were built.
source indicates that there was a fire at the school at this
time, but no other information has been found to confirm
Brookside School, 1926
In 1928 the first stop sign was erected at the intersection
of 100 and 41st; this was right after 100/Vernon Ave.
(Aurora Ave. then) was first paved.
The Brookside PTA was formed in 1931. Its first president
was Mrs. D.C. Beard. The Mothers Club preceded the PTA and
continued as a separate entity for awhile but eventually the
two organizations merged.
In 1935 the Brookside Mothers Club President was Mrs.
Jeannette Andrews. The President of the Brookside PTA was
Mrs. M.X. Jackley.
In 1936, Ethel Baston became Curriculum Director for the
Park School system, and was replaced as Principal by Erwin
Welke. Welke had come to Park in 1935 when he was hired as
Principal at Lincoln School.
During the Depression, students at Meadowbrook raised
vegetables for the cafeteria in the gardens located on the
front lawn where the playground later was.
In 1939 the President of the Brookside Mothers Club was Mrs.
John L. Malmstedt, and the President of the Brookside PTA
was Harry O. Nelson.
In 1943, Principal Welke became Audio-Visual Director for
the School system and was replaced by Lucille Swelin. Mrs.
Swelin had taught at Brookside since 1929. She served until
1968, when she was assigned to be Principal at the new Susan
Lindgren Elementary School. Mrs. Swelin passed away in
During World War II, Brookside was used to distribute ration
books and to sell bonds and stamps, purchasing a jeep and an
ambulance with the proceeds from those bonds.
In 1946, Brookside was so overcrowded that the Sixth
grade had classes at the High School.
1947 PTA Notes:
55 windows broken this summer - give children a pep
talk on the cost of the windows.
Supt. Domian spoke in regards to enlarging Brookside
School to have 18 rooms.
Questions asked regarding the absence of a gym or
auditorium in present building plans answered by Domian
and Mr. Kobs - school board member.
Safety was always a concern of Brookside parents,
particularly in the days when there was an at-grade
crossing at 41st St. PTA notes from 1947 indicate that
the “highway situation is being checked” and that either
an underpass or overpass was promised for the
intersection. Meanwhile, flasher-type signals will be
set up by the State Highway Department to slow traffic,
and a policeman was always on duty.
In February 1948, the School Board bought two lots on
Vernon Ave. just south of the school. With the other two
lots they already owned, they would make room for a large
playground and ball field. The houses were moved by August
Much-loved custodian Axel
Peterson began his 25-year run at the school in 1948.
On March 8, 1949, a Dedication was held for a 12-room
addition. Work had begun in July/December 1947. It included
a library, kindergarten rooms on the south side, gymnasium, and
a basement that included a lunch room and little theater. The architect was
William Townes of Haxby, Bissell & Belair. Music was
provided by the Teenettes, the Bond Sisters, and the Senior
Accordion Ensemble of the Professional Music Center.
That same year, the PTA donated a baby grand piano to the school.
Enrollment peaked at 1,132 in 1949-50. Five periods were
needed to accommodate the lunch program. Seventeen buses
were needed to transport students, and Kindergarten met in
triple shifts. (Another report set
enrollment at 790 in 1950, with 21 teachers.) One report is
that the expansion of Eliot relieved the pressure of such
The new gym allowed for the first of many school carnivals
in May 1949.
In January 1950, the date of a planned paper sale (drive)
had to be changed because of the appearance in Minneapolis
of Gene Autry.
The number of students in school year 1950-51 was 957. The
PTA had voted to buy some new drapes for the teacher’s
lounge, but the room had to be made into a classroom.
Members of the PTA were treated to a slide show by Mrs.
Swelin entitled “A Day at Brookside.”
In January 1951, National Photo Studio took pictures of
students. Those pictures are not in the Historical Society’s
School Year 1951-52 brought an enrollment of 1081 students.
The Brookside PTA tried to buy a second phone for the office
– the school district eventually paid for second phones in
all schools. Instead, the PTA bought audio visual equipment
and filmstrips. In February 1952, children were asked to
keep their dogs at home, as there had been several incidents
near the school. Parents wanted a higher fence between the
front playground and the highway, which was Right There – no
On January 5, 1953, Blanche Boyce died at age 69 of
complications after she fell while taking down a Christmas
tree at the school. She had taught at Brookside since she
came to town in 1926, teaching 4th and 5th grades. In
February 1953, the Brookside PTA established the Blanche
Boyce Memorial Fund, to be used for the purchase of library
books. At that time, the PTA declared “When and if they day
comes that our library is not used as a classroom, a plaque
will be put above the door dedicating it to Miss Boyce.”
On March 9, 1954, the female members of the Brookside PTA
enjoyed a fashion show sponsored by Cook's Family Apparel
(Miracle Mile), while dad was invited to a "smoker," where
the men would view a film on fishing and enjoy "He-Man"
refreshments. That probably didn't mean beer.
On May 21, 1954. the Brookside PTA's annual carnival drew
3,000 people for a night "Under the Big Top." The carnival
featured a freak show, fishpond, a variety store, miniature
bowling, merry-go-round, and airplane and auto rides. Little
boys could be made up as clowns, and little girls could be
made up as movie queens.
Also in 1954, Dr. Francis Gamelin, child psychologist,
mental hygienist, and senior counselor at the University of
Minnesota spoke about behavior characteristics and emotional
stability in the Grade School-age children. Dr. Gamelin, the
father of five boys, had also spoken the previous year. His
topic was “Children Need More Than Love.”
On February 8, 1955, the Brookside PTA sponsored a Style
Show featuring fashions by Roy H. Bjorkman, Inc. (women) and
Juster Bros. (men).
On March 8, 1955, Mr. Philip E. Ploumen of the Hennepin
County Home for Boys spoke to the Brookside PTA on "Boys in
Difficulty." "Mr. Ploumen will discuss this all-important
and daily increasing problem regarding juvenile delinquency,
chief causes, general patterns it follows..."
Undated photo from school district
No delinquents here: in 1955, Brookside won the 5th Grade
Championship (Basketball). Ken Rasmusson was the captain.
The Spring carnival (May 21, 1955) promised no squirt guns
and no balloons.
Governor Orville Freeman cut a birthday cake on March 13,
1956 at Brookside PTA’s silver anniversary. He was the guest
speaker on the subject “Problems of Education in Minnesota.”
Also on hand were Mayor Fernstrom and Superintendent
Enestvedt. The 52-piece Hamline University Concert Band
provided musical entertainment.
The 1956 Spring Carnival netted over $2,000.
The 1958 Carnival was held on April 26.
During the 1958-59 school year, Brookside School had 705
students and 25 teachers. There were 80 students in the
On March 11, 1958: Mr. Leonard Jones spoke to the PTA about
Civil Defense and plans for a Trial Run of Evacuation:
"Learn where and how your child will be sent to safety."
The 1959-60 school year saw 725 students and 23 teachers.
1959 may have been the debut of the “Brookside Monkey,” a
wooden little guy who was given to the classroom that had
the highest rate of PTA membership.
The major PTA event of 1960 was a book fair, held on April
23. Activities included a cake walk, fish pond, food, books,
bingo, Bozo the Cop (he cost $25), movies, and rides. Prizes
included two ant farms. Unsold books went to the Shakopee
and Sauk Center Detention Homes for Girls and the Fergus
Falls School for the Mentally Retarded.
Some major electrical work had been done in the summer of
1960. The 1960-61 school year came with 725 pupils and 23
teachers. As usual, the PTA paid for Christmas trees for
every room. On November 15, 1960, a pupil-teacher committee
was facilitated by (not making this up) Dr. Ned Flanders and
there was a stoplight at Brookside School, police were
there to escort children across Highway 100. It would
be seven more years until a footbridge was built. Fred Stimson is the officer
In 1961, Dr. Harold Pluimer, Science Consultant for the
State of Minnesota Department of Education, spoke to the Brookside PTA on "Exploration of Space - What are our Future
Space Plans?" He brought with him NASA models of space
vehicles to be launched during the next 10 years.
On April 13, 1961, the Brookside PTA sponsored a "Movierama"
at the 7-Hi Drive In on Highway 7. A caravan of cars was to
leave from Brookside School, led by Police Chief (and
Brookside parent) Clyde Sorenson. Mr. Maitland Frosch, owner
of the Drive In, opened the theater a day or two before its
grand opening. “Challenge the Wild,” a nature film from
1954, was shown along with five cartoons. The movie had a
Legion of Decency Rating of A-1.
Plot Summary for "Challenge the Wild" (1954):
A family-affair wild-life documentary
that follows George Graham and his family, wife Sheilah
(who IS NOT the writer and Scott Fitzgerald paramour in
any size, shape, form or fashion) and their young son
and daughter, as they depart California for the Canadian
north country well armed with guns and cameras. You have
to have both to shoot animals, although wife Sheilah
(still not the "Beloved Infidel" Sheilah) bags a couple
of cougars with bow-and-arrows. Somebody somewhere
thinks a real-life woman played by Deborah Kerr could do
that? The kids get some cuddly scenes playing with some
orphaned bear cubs, that might have still had parents if
the Grahams hadn't been around. (summary written by Les
In May 1961, the PTA wanted to buy a freezer
for the school, but the wiring was inadequate.
The 1961-62 school year had 700 students and 23 teachers. In
September 1961, bunches of “space balloons” were launched
from Brookside. These were helium-filled balloons with cards
inside that instructed the finder to contact the school to
see how far the balloon had gone.
On November 21, 1961, "Civil Defense - is it Sense or
Nonsense?" was the topic of the Brookside PTA, led by Norris
Lokensgard. This meeting was devoted to basic facts about
nuclear blast and radioactive fallout effects. The Survival
Preparedness Committee provided a report that determined
that busses could not be mobilized in such an emergency, and
parents were urged to practice a "walk home" drill.
Brookside School, 1962
On January 16, 1962, Dr. Arnold Anderson gave a talk on “Sex
Education of the Elementary School Child.”
On March 3, 1962, the Brookside PTA held a phenomenal Space
Age Fair organized by Alice-Jean and Bob McFarlin. In addition to the fair-like activities of the
beanbag toss, Dip the Duck, Fish Pond, and Flip the Cat,
there were a series of special science and space displays
that were borrowed from various large industries and the
armed forces. These included:
Ford Motors: model cars
3M: generators to power TV, coast guard beacon and radio
Minnegasco: radio powered by heat
NSP: a model of a totally electric home and information
about nuclear energy
Northwestern Bell: early model of Vanguard satellite
Navy: authentic space suit, display of Polaris missile
Air Force: authentic space suit, film on sonic boom
Marines: a movie about Marines in space, narrated by
Minneapolis Honeywell, which was staffed by
Brookside parent Orly Thornsjo, who was the
head of the Apollo Program for Honeywell.
Echo 1 “Satelloon”
Working model of atomic power plant (can that be right?)
As a follow-up, Dr. Harold Pluimer, science consultant
from the Minnesota Department of Education, gave a talk on
“Exploration of Space – What are our Future Space Plans?” on
March 20, 1962. The PTA talk was attended by sixth graders.
In the spring of 1962, the PTA held another movie night at
the 7-Hi Theater. The movie had something to do with
Lippizaner Stallions in WW II, reportedly. The PTA netted
$700 from the event.
The 1962-63 school year had 687 students and 23 teachers.
The PTA that year bought Christmas trees, patrol badges, and
a transistor radio for Civil Defense. Some of the funds for
these purchases came from the sale of “Chicken Fat” records
for 75 cents, courtesy of Bert Jones.
On January 15, 1963, the PTA heard Prof. Robert Smith for an
ominous-sounding talk entitled "Don't Deny your Children
Discipline." Also that month, Dick Silva spoke about the St.
Louis Park Community Theater. And in response to continuing
concern about the traffic on Highway 100, Chief Clyde
Sorenson insisted that a policeman was always on duty and
that was good enough.
On February 19, 1963, the PTA heard Mrs. Mildred Roberts,
Consultant for Family and Children's Service, discuss
"Growing Pains." Topics included when children should start
dating, when girls should be wearing nylons or lipstick, and
how parents can say "No" when everyone else says "Yes"!
In the spring of 1963, there was no movie night as in
previous years, but the PTA sold tickets to the 7-Hi that
could be used from April 1 to May 21. This was not as
successful, and they only made $450.
In 1963, over 1,700 local residents signed a petition asking
the State Highway Department to construct a footbridge over
Highway 100 at Brookside School. The footbridge was planned
for 1967-68, but parents wanted the bridge earlier. The PTA
stated that the intersection had the highest volume of
traffic of any school crossing in Minnesota, and constituted
an extreme hazard for the 350 Brookside and Most Holy
Trinity students who crossed it every day.
Also in 1963, Mrs. Mildred Roberts, Consultant for Family and
Children’s Services, gave a talk to the PTA on “Growing
Pains.” Some of the issues discussed were:
Should sixth grade girls wear lipstick, nylons, and
back comb their hair
Should elementary school kids date and go steady?
What is the recommended bed time?
Should boy-girl parties be allowed?
Should there be a dress code for fifth and sixth
In November 1963, the PTA sponsored a talk by Mr. Wagner
"Wag" Collins, co-author of the "new math" books being
introduced in Park Schools. His "Modern Arithmetic Through
Discovery" books were based on his study of new math at the
University of Illinois. Now this was a problem.
On March 17, 1964, the Brookside PTA hosted Judge Donald T.
Barbeau as he discussed the topic "Teenagers in the Courts."
A December 15, 1964 PTA Holiday Tea was themed “Feminine
Fashion Possibilities Unlimited,” and featured Mrs. Naomi
Ward, a dead ringer for Mrs. Howell. Naomi had been a
fashion model, and was in fact contracted out of the Eleanor
Moore Model Agency for $35. Among her comments were “we
women should try to look better in the morning than we
usually do,” and that “wigs and furs are the most expensive
items in one’s wardrobe.”
The Brookside PTA sponsored a Hoot-nanny at the school
carnival on April 11, 1964. Those who could sound like the
Christy Minstrels (presumably the New Christy Minstrels)
were encouraged to participate. Seven ponies were available
for riding, and the prizes included transistor radios. Other
activities included a trading post, country store, chuck
wagon, merry-go-round, make-up booth, candy peg board, and a
fish pond. This event marked the debut of the Jaguars
rock band, made up of Brookside students Bobby Rifkin (age
8), and Stephen Rifkin, Craig Schadow, and Gary Oxman (all
age 12). Drummer Bobby would go on to play with Prince
and the Revolution.
Bobby Rifkin, Stephen Rifkin, Craig Schadow, and Gary Oxman,
the Jaguars, 1964. Photo courtesy Craig Schadow
Other activities in the spring included talks on TB and the
“new math,” a clothing drive for Save the Children, Supt.
Enestvedt’s trip to Sweden, and a talk by Judge Eugene
Minenko, who attributed 8,000 arrests of minors to a fast
world, living in the shadow of nuclear war, and a breakdown
in the family. In 1964!
In April 1965, Brookside was one of four schools that helped
sponsor the production “Many Moons,” as performed by the
Louis Park Community Theater. School children helped sell
tickets and helped in other ways, and in exchange got some
of the proceeds.
May 1, 1965 was a Mother’s Day Pancake Breakfast. It was
Mother’s Day Out, and the dads did all the work.
On February 15, 1966, the PTA was treated to a “Brookside
Fun-Nite,” featuring the Nordstroms and Alwins presenting
songs, dances, and Snappy Patter.
In March, it was the PTA who apparently broached the subject
of sex education by screening the films “Boy to Man” and
“Girl to Woman” for parents. The films were then shown to
sixth graders – girls in the little theater and boys in the
AV room. Parents and a doctor were present.
March 1967 featured a Whist Party that seemed to have drawn
hundreds of players. Another activity that year was a
pancake breakfast on April 22. The PTA sponsored a
collection of clothes for Applachia, and toothbrushes and
soap for children in Viet Nam.
In 1968, Brookside underwent $59,400 in alterations to scale
down when Susan Lindgren was built. The largest class of
boomers had already passed through, leaving Brookside with a
dramatically smaller enrollment. Students were reassigned
from Ethel Baston to balance things out.
Harvest Pancake Day was held on October 28, 1968.
School enrollment in 1969-70 was 461 students.
In 1970 there was a student fair that drew 800 people. That
year the school participated in KSTP Project ’70, which had
to do with drug awareness.
On April 22, 1971, Brookside held a “Family Night” that
featured a book fair, magic show, food, prizes, and a sixth
grade science fair.
In September 1971, the PTA sold red and white sweatshirts
adorned with the school’s new mascot, the Tiger. That
December the PTA was able to buy new drapes for the
teacher’s lounge and an 8 mm camera and projector. In
February 1972, the PTA paid to have furniture in the
teachers’ lounge reupholstered and, in an indication of
changing times, a tennis shoe fund for kids who could not
April 13, 1972 was the school Carnival, which featured cake
walks, magic by Donn French, and a drawing for bikes, as
provided by Shoppers’ City and drawn by Axel.
On May 21, 1972 Brookside held "Agnes Preus Day," honoring
the 46-year career of this first grade teacher (16 years in
St. Louis Park). The program featured the first student she
ever taught back in 1927 in Albert Lea.
A school carnival was held on April 5, 1973, much
stripped-down from the school’s heyday.
Brookside closed for good as a Park elementary school in
1975 with a final enrollment of 304 students. A Farewell to
Brookside program was held on May 4, 1975.
The building became Brookside Community Center, holding its
Grand Opening on September 21, 1975. Activities planned
included: housing adult education, day care, nursery, health
service, ESL, children’s library, general recreation,
college-level classes from Mankato State, adult leisure
classes and more. Tenants included the Braille Sports
Foundation, a Loan Closet run by the auxiliary of Suburban
Public Health Nursing Services, the West Hennepin Human
Services Planning Board, the Suburban Recreation
Association, and Metropolitan Open School. In February 1976,
Discoveries for Children Montessori School became a tenant,
headed by Cindy Albrecht and Heidi Dorfmeister.
After talk of selling the school in 1994, it got a reprieve
in October 1995 when Minneapolis leased the school because
of a shortage of space in its own system. The school hosted
260 students from Kindergarten to Grade 5, with an emphasis
on performing arts. This arrangement continued for ten
Finally the School Board was forced to sell the building,
fortunately to a developer who built residential
space while keeping the physical integrity of the main
building intact. Master Builder created 27 condos in the
old school, and townhouses and single family homes on the
grounds of the expansive playground. A brick from the
demolished gymnasium can be found at the Historic Depot.
The Historical Society also has some of the colorful mosaics
that were placed above the pint-sized water fountains.
Also see the article in the
Blanche Boyce: 1921
Ethel Baston: 1934-36
Erwin Welke: 1936 to 1943 (left middle of year)
Lucille Swelin: 1943 to 1968
James Wason: 1968 to 1972, 1973 to 1975
Gene Brack: 1972 to 1973
1924: Mr. Harvey
1929-30: T. J. Murphy
1937: Edward Jenneke
1937-43: Fred Lupien
1948-73: Axel Peterson
The Historical Society has the following materials from
1952-53, 1954-55, 1955-56, 1956-57, 1957-58, 1958-59,
1959-60, 1960-6,1 1961-62, 1962-63, 1963-64, 1964-67
1950 PHOTO ALBUM
1924-28, 1956-57, 1958-59, 1960-61, 1962-63, 1964-65,
1966-67, 1968-69, 1969-70, 1970-71, 1971-72, 1972-73,