The Lake Forest neighborhood is located
in the northeast corner of St. Louis Park: on both
sides of Cedar Lake Road, west of France Avenue.
It was the brainchild of Douglas Rees, a builder billed as
"realtor owner." Rees had been in the real
estate development business since 1924. He had purchased the 80
acre parcel from the McNair Estate for $25,000.
(McNair had been a land speculator.)
The land was platted in 1939 - "more
than 80 acres for less than 150 families." Rees
explained that "larger homesites [100 x 200] are required for the low
rambling homes of current architectural style, and the
winding lanes without conventional city-type street
improvements, and with through traffic barred out, simulate
country estates, without forfeiting urban conveniences and
services." Rees further described the project as "the
last large restricted area available for exclusive home
construction along the entire length of the west city
limits, from Robbinsdale on the north, southward to 58th
Street." A 1940 ad mentioned "No old-fashioned
city sidewalk, curb or gutter." When curbs were
finally built in the '70s, the neighborhood convinced the
City to modify them to look more natural. Access to
Minneapolis was by the Bryn Mawr bus.
The average lot in 1939 was $1,100. In time, an
additional 80 lots were developed to the west. In the
160 acres that now makes up Lake Forest, in 1992 there were only 178
Why Rees named the subdivision Lake Forest is unknown. He
built his own modest home on the corner of Glenhurst and Cedar Lake
Construction stopped during World War II.
The Lake Forest Neighborhood
Association was formed on September 21, 1942.
The first president was Walter H. Wheeler. The group
had fun: dinner and dancing at McCarthy's, summer
picnics, square dancing, Bingo, and war bond drives.
An account written in 1991 notes that the group convinced
the Pure Oil Co. to convey their property at France Ave. and
Cedar Lake Road to anyone "as long as we have assurance
through title restrictions or otherwise that the property
will be utilized for public purposes and can never be
After the War, the price of lots went up to $2,000 and up.
20 acres of parkland were set aside by Rees as bird
sanctuaries. Houses had to meet minimum price and size
requirements, and there could be no unattached buildings,
The subdivisions that make up Lake Forest are:
Westridge, platted in 1946
Highwood Tract Lake Forest, platted
Forest Tract Lake Forest Addition,
platted in 1930
Parklands Tract Lake Forest
Addition, platted in 1941
Parkwoods Tract Lake Forest
Addition, platted in 1941
Basswood, platted in 1947
Cedarwood, platted in 1950
Cedarwood 2nd, platted in 1953
McNair Park: This
subdivision, which we share with Minneapolis to the
east, has 23 of a total of 152 lots in St. Louis Park.
It was platted in 1889, and the oldest home in the
subdivision that is in St. Louis Park dates to 1925.
In 1964, the Great Northern Railroad
tore down a bridge that had crossed its tracks on Cedar Lake
Road, near the present-day Sabes Jewish Community Center.
A photo in the April 30 issue of the Dispatch shows a
frustrated resident holding a "HELP!" sign, hoping for the
rebuilding of his route into Minneapolis. It has since
been replaced by a pedestrian bridge.
1950 Photo courtesy City Engineering Dept.
Deep in the archives, we found this list of questions,
probably generated by the neighborhood association. If
you know the answers, please
What was the original sales "office" for lots in
laid out the roads and homesites?
What was his gift to the City?
What did he pay for the original 80 acres?
Where did one of his partners live in Lake Forest?
Who has lived in Lake Forest the longest?
What is unusual about his walls?
What lost landmark does he document?
Why are so many houses built in 1941?
What high-paid model lives in Lake Forest?
What musical instrument does she play?
How many people can you name who grew up in, and
still lives in, Lake Forest?
What did the kids call the hill where South Hill
Lane runs today?
What was Lake Forest's contribution to the Second
World War effort?
What notorious bit of gunplay occurred in Lake
Why have some walls in Lake Forest turned orange?
What famous architect designed a Lake Forest Home?
Who is Bill Lubov, and what is he going to say when
he gets here?