Skunk Hollow is a colorful (and
historical) name for the Oxford Industrial district of St.
Louis Park. It is located north of Methodist Hospital, east
of Meadowbrook Road, south of the old Milwaukee Road/Mpls.
and St. Louis tracks and west of the old Dan Patch tracks.
It consists exclusively of industrial buildings, except for
two duplexes on Cambridge Ave. as one enters the area from
the east. These two buildings were built in 1898 according
to the city, a good 50 years before the industrial buildings
in Skunk Hollow were conceived of. Legend has it that they
gave Skunk Hollow their name, after families of skunks were
found living in them. Today they are known as Murphy’s Ridge
Townhomes and consist of four condos. We know not
where the Murphy's Ridge name came from.
Al Pooler remembers the Skunk Hollow of the 1930s and '40s:
"The two big houses were there, of course, with a pasture
across the road and nothing but open space to the west.
Much of it was swamp, with coots swimming in the open water.
The main attraction to the guys in the hood was a stretch of
Minnehaha Creek that ran west to east, up close to the Oak
Hill end. That's where many of us learned how to swim.
The Creek in this section was flanked up closed by a RR spur
track. The Creek was only waist deep along this
stretch but some of the more imaginative guys figured out
that by damming the Creek, the water level got close to
shoulder high. Great for swimming, but it would also
flood the RR tracks. The RR people would then send a
crew to destroy the dam, after which the rebuilding activity
would commence again. I have a particularly vivid
recall of an incident that occurred in late summer when a
group of the guys were swimming in the Creek and lo and
behold, around a bend on the tracks comes this steam
locomotive, kinda quiet and sneaky like, and as he got close
to the guys swimming, he opened a steam valve that clouded
the Creek with live steam. Panicsville!! I can
still see those knobby-kneed, bandy-legged, bare-assed guys
explode from the water and charge up the opposite bank.
That's how I remember Skunk Hollow." Thanks, Al, for
Here's a testament to the desolation of the area prior to
the 1950s. Above is a photo of Marie Hartmann, taken
in 1937 "looking east from creek."
The swamp at one time was offered for sale (and refused)
for $100. Many of the buildings in Skunk Hollow were built
by a man named Allen Garrison. Garrison must have had quite a bit of vision and optimism
that the project would work. He built many buildings in the
Park in the 1950s, after the Korean War building supply
embargo ended and in the midst of a booming St. Louis Park
hungry for space to launch businesses. We hear that as soon
as one of his buildings was finished, Garrison would throw a
wild party for everyone – electricians, HVAC men, etc. – who
worked on it.
In 1959, Garrison donated nearly half a mile of right of
way to the City for a “projected industrial highway… The
crossroads would be comprised of the proposed Oxford Street
Extended and its intersection with the proposed southern
extension of Louisiana Avenue.” Not sure whether it was
Louisiana or Oxford that was to be the “industrial highway,”
but Louisiana was extended to Excelsior Blvd. in about 1972.
One of the pioneers of the area was John R. Smith. Smith had
a business called Gopher Motor Rebuilding, which had
outgrown its space in Minneapolis. Smith bought 6327
Cambridge from Garrison for his business. Soon he needed
more space, and bought 6401 Cambridge; he used part of that
building and leased part to a company called Magnetic
Controls. He must have seen the potential for the area, as
he bought two more buildings from Garrison. He also bought
the old Cambridge Brick Co., located across from the Skunk
Houses, which had made concrete blocks, to store engine
blocks. The brick company was eventually demolished, and new
industrial buildings designed by John Smith’s architect son
John, Jr. were built in 1977. Now the Smith holdings on
Cambridge are known as the
Center, buildings 1-6 (Motto: Small Space for Small
Business). The Smith family also has a property on Oxford
and an award-winning building at Louisiana and 27th Street
as well. John Smith’s son Bill has managed the property and
its 200 tenants since 1976. Bill also operates his own
Warehouse Winery, at 6415 Cambridge
At the end of Cambridge, take a right at Edgewood and you’ll
come to a building that was originally the Cambridge Café.
In 1967, this was the odd location of the “TV’s Hullaballoo
Teen Scene” night club, evidently a franchise owned by a
Barbara Jacoby. That short-lived endeavor was replaced by
the “Purple Cigar,” owned by Arnie Sagarski. Despite the
fact that big-time local bands played there, it too ended
quickly, in about 1968. More information about these fun
spots can be found at
Travel down Edgewood to Oxford and take a look to your
right and you’ll see a steep hill with railroad tracks at
the top. We think that before the railroad came, the hill
was not so steep, Oxford went through, and that’s how the
Monitor houses, originally built in the swamp in the 1890s,
were hauled to higher ground. Monitor houses were 12 homes
built by the Monitor Drill Co., probably for its managers.
There are four left, on Colorado Ave. between Oxford and
Goodrich. More information on the Monitor houses can be
There are many industrial buildings on Oxford, on either
side of Louisiana Ave. The City’s new municipal building is
located west of Louisiana. And at the end of Oxford,
Meadowbrook Road turns to the left to meet up with Excelsior
We hope you’ve enjoyed your tour of Skunk Hollow. If you
have any additional information or corrections, please
contact us at
Many thanks to Bill and John Smith for their stories.
To document these buildings, the Historical Society has been
scanning pictures on file at the Tax Assessor’s Office – the
City apparently took pictures of every existing building in
1960, and there are some older ones that go back earlier
(but only as far back as 1954). We also took pictures of the
buildings as they were fifty years later in 2010. We will be
posting these photos to our website in the coming months.
These are links to the street pages: