Lincoln School was built at a cost of $8,500 on three
lots donated by the St. Louis Park Land and Development
Company: 5925 W. 37th Street at the corner of Alabama. The
school opened January 6, 1890, with James T. Davis as
Principal. The school district and the village council split
the cost of the building, and the Village Council held its
meetings on the second floor.
In 1938, Lincoln School building was decommissioned as a
school and was sold to the Village for $1 to become
Hall. Prior to that time, Village records were stored at
the homes of various officials. Other tenants of the
building were the Hennepin County Historical Society (1938 -
1944), Rural Hennepin County Nursing Society, and again an
elementary school from 1944 - 1947. A police and fire barn
was built next to the building and the two buildings were
connected by a tunnel. Mary McElmurrry, daughter of
Fire Chief Pete Williams, remembers: "There was a
really heavy, thick steel door connecting the two of them
right off the kitchen of the fire barn. When I was younger,
it was too heavy for me to open and I had to have someone
help me with it. Such memories.
In 1958, history-minded Earl Ainsworth collected the
portraits of the former Mayors of the City for display in
City Hall. In 1960, a plaque was placed, reading
"Portraits Provided by S. Earl Ainsworth, St. Louis Park's
Distinguished citizen and Public Servant, 1958." We
think the original portraits ended up at the St. Louis Park
Historical Society. Copies are again displayed in the
council chambers at City Hall.
An article from 1961 describes the building as a fire hazard
that sways in a hard wind, with a floor that ripples like
waves on the ocean. The building was built in two sections
that separated in a big wind.
In 1960, the City purchased a 16-acre area (five sites,
Collins 2nd Addition) at 37th and
Highway 100 from Hennepin County, and the Planning
Department proposed that it be used for a Civic Center,
featuring an open fountain surrounded by public buildings
such as the City Hall, Library, and a Municipal Auditorium.
The campus would also include a recreation center, police,
and fire departments. Brandhorst and Leadholm architects had
already drawn up some sketches. But when Interstate
Department Stores of New York offered $440,000 for 10 acres
of the property, the City determined that the profit could
be used to fund a City Hall at another location.
Other sites that were considered included:
The area bordered by Louisiana, Gorham, and 2nd Street.
Wooddale and 37th east of Lincoln School
LNC gravel pit at 27th and Louisiana (9.6 acres)
The Creosote Plant
Wooddale and Lake - 2.7 acres owned by C. Ed. Christy
In 1939, Park Theater developer Harold Field purchased 27
acres of land from farmer Simon Kruse. Field donated 10-15
of those acres for Carpenter Park, named for B.W. Carpenter.
Since the land had been designated as park land, Field had
to sign a release in order for the City to build.
The site of Carpenter Park was the property of M. Parry in
1893; he owned the entire tract that includes the Park
Theater Building, the Garden Village Apartments on Raleigh,
the condos at 5101 Minnetonka, Skippy Field, and Menorah
On December 21, 1961, the City Council chose the Carpenter
Park site for its new City Hall. Construction cost $170,000.
It was completed and occupied by city staff on October 18,
1963. The City Jail was designed by Austiin Lange, Architect
and built by Pauly Jail Building Co. A dedication
dinner was held in the Council Chambers on October 30, 1963.
In 1963, in a misguided attempt at cleaning house before
moving, the City Clerk destroyed the following documents,
Planning Commission reports
Special permits requests and liquor licenses
Vacation of alleys and streets
Petitions for improvements
As a result of this and other purges, City Hall has few
records older than the 1950s.
In 1966, the Lincoln School/Village Hall building was sold
to Minnesota Rubber and then demolished.
Here's a picture of the back of City Hall from 1974:
And a picture from the front, courtesy John McHugh: