Frogtown: Minnehaha Avenue Memories

Tour curated by: Special thanks to author Jane McClure

Minnehaha Avenue is one of Frogtown’s major east-west streets. Years ago it marked a section line on early land surveys. In later years it served as a dividing line between part of Frogtown’s residential and commercial-industrial areas.

Some histories indicated that part of Minnehaha was considered for the name University Avenue because it was envisioned as a connection between Hamline University and the University of Minnesota. The name Minnehaha comes from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1855 Song of Hiawatha. The poem is the story of two Native American lovers, the brave Hiawatha and the beautiful Minnehaha.

As early as 1918, city officials sought to extend Minnehaha Avenue and create a longer, regional east-west road that would connect the city from end to end. While Minnehaha never extended as far east or west as envisioned, the idea of an east-west route was replaced by more recent plans to link Pierce Butler Route to Phalen Boulevard.

The street is a mix of land uses in Frogtown, including single-family and multi-family homes, industries, businesses and park space.

Locations for Tour

One important Frogtown landmark on Minnehaha Avenue is the West Minnehaha Recreation Center. “West Minne” is one of the city’s older recreation centers. The original Platteville limestone recreation center building was erected in 1937-38 as one…

The area of West Minnehaha Avenue bounded by Victoria, Chatsworth, and Lafond was the home of Amherst H. Wilder Foundation headquarters until 2007. The site is now eyed as the future home for Frogtown Farm and Park. The 13-acre site contains some of…

More than 50 years ago, Minnehaha Mall opened as one of Saint Paul’s first “modern” shopping centers. Minnehaha Center, Midway Shopping Center and Phalen Shopping Center were among Saint Paul’s earliest answers to the shopping centers of the…

Pierce Butler Route is known by many as a shortcut through area neighborhoods, Pierce Butler Route is named for one of Saint Paul’s U.S. Supreme Court justices. The street was platted in 1961. Butler was born in 1886 and died in November 1939…