Walking All the Streets Of Fulton from Farmers to France

I confess, “from Farmers to France” is more alliterative than strictly accurate. I started immediately adjacent to the Fulton Farmers Market, but I devoted a few minutes to the environs before going into the market itself. And I returned there at the end of the walk, after France Avenue.

The Fulton neighborhood in southwest Minneapolis extends west to east from France Avenue South to Penn Avenue South and from north to south from 47th Street West to 54th Street West, the area shaded in light blue on the following map. France Avenue is a city boundary (rather than just a line between neighborhoods), as is 54th Street to the west of Xerxes Avenue. In the route map, the blue path is my main loop and the red lines are forward-and-back spurs off of it.

The north side of 50th Street between Beard and Chowen Avenues is occupied by The Waters, a senior-living apartment building. I was interested to see that the landscaping features rain gardens.

Rain Garden at The Waters, 50th St. W. at Beard Ave. S.

The Waters, 3500 50th St. W.

The Fulton Farmers Market is located just north of The Waters in the parking lot south of Lake Harriet United Methodist Church. You can find me there most Saturday mornings in season. With only a couple weeks left for 2017, I wanted to be sure to do a walk that included it, even though I only had time for a short one.

My first stop after entering the market from Chowen Avenue was the Singing Hills Goat Dairy stall, where I bought some tangy goat farmer’s cheese.

Singing Hills Goat Dairy, Fulton Farmers Market

Almost directly across the aisle, Mary Dirty Face Farm offered me samples cut from several varieties of apples. I wound up choosing the Priscilla, based on its lively, somewhat floral aromatics and its appealing sweet-tart balance.

Mary Dirty Face Farm, Fulton Farmers Market

Next up were Peter’s Pumpkins/Carmen’s Corn and Sun Street Breads, which are side by side in the background of the following photo. Ordinarily I would also have shopped at Dawn 2 Dusk Gardens, which is in the foreground—if you zoom in, you can see what lovely produce they have. (For example, a couple weeks ago I used their early Brussels sprouts together with one of their onions and some eggs from another vendor to make a frittata.) This week, though, I knew I’d be almost entirely away from home, so I had to keep my purchases minimal.

Fulton Farmers Market

So what did I get? You already know about the cheese and apples. From Sun Street, I got my usual loaf of Vollkornbrot (whole-grain bread) and an apple turnover. Sun Street’s Solveig Tofte bakes several other very good breads, but the dense Vollkornbrot is extra special: she sells it only at the Fulton Farmers Market. [Update October 21, 2017: the bread is now sold in the shop. Tofte tells me they’ll be switching it from Saturdays to Thursdays so that it will be available to pizza night customers.] I’m more eclectic in the sweet pastries I buy; some weeks I even manage to leave her booth without one. And from Peter’s Pumpkins, I bought a delicata squash.

Fulton Farmers Market Still Life: A Restrained Haul

Sun Street Apple Turnover at Fulton Farmers Market

Leaving the market, I resumed following Chowen Avenue northward to the neighborhood border at 47th Street. (This isn’t quite a straight shot. Chowen takes a small jog at 48th Street.) Along the way, I noticed how smaller, older houses are interspersed with larger, newer ones. I know such juxtapositions can be jarring, but I’m a big fan of diversity of all kinds, including a diversity of buildings within an area and a diversity of times at which an area’s properties are rebuilt. It sure beats bulldozing a whole block at once for redevelopment.

Mix of Single-Family Detached Houses on Chowen Ave. S.

Mix of Single-Family Detached Houses on Chowen Ave. S.

On 47th Street, I walked a one-block spur to the west, then walked east as far as Abbot Avenue before returning to Beard. The southeast corner of 47th and Beard is occupied by a large brick block of a telephone central office, approximately 20,000 square feet of footprint by three stories high. I was interested to see the double-doored “balconies” on the upper stories, outlined in bright yellow. My assumption is that they allow equipment to be brought in or out with a lift truck rather than needing a permanent freight elevator within the building. Around on the Beard Avenue side, a sign allows “NWB employees only.” That would be Northwestern Bell, absorbed into US West in 1991, followed by Qwest in 2000 and Century Link in 2011. Apparently no-trespassing signs aren’t high priorities for rebranding.

4701 Beard Ave. S., Looking West on 47th St. W.

4701 Beard Ave. S.

Nearby, some flowers remained bright—something not to be taken for granted as colder weather sets in.

Flowers, 4700 Block of Beard Ave. S.

Beard Avenue is blocked between 48th and 49th Streets by Pershing Field Park, which extends from Chowen Avenue to where Abbot Avenue would be, if it were not also vacated between 48th and 49th. (From the Abbot Avenue alignment east to Zenith is Southwest High School’s Fredrickson-Peterson Stadium.) I did an eastward spur to Abbot, then headed west along the northern edge of the park. That also brought me alongside the Pershing Recreation Center, which is distinguished by its circular and semi-circular openings.

Pershing Recreation Center (1977)

Pershing Field Park

I continued west on 48th Street all the way to France Avenue, then retreated to Ewing. After a northward spur on Ewing to 47th, I turned south, looping via 50th Street to Drew Avenue, which I walked the three blocks north back to 47th. All the while, I enjoyed the rare combination of flowers still in color and trees already in color, which only occurs during this brief transitional season.

4700 Block of Drew Ave. S.

At 47th Street, I turned west to France Avenue, then south. In the 4700 block of France Avenue, I saw a number of duplexes. Interestingly, one of them was extensively remodeled in 2015, including gaining a second level. That’s a rarity not just in this neighborhood but across all 29 neighborhoods I’ve visited thus far.

4749–4751 France Ave. S. (1945 and 2015)

On the southeast corner of France Avenue and 48th Street, the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd is a boxy modernist brick structure. On the front of the main building, a relief depicts the Good Shepherd: a human form carrying a lamb. The pillars of light-colored stone in front of the church look like they might be of more recent vintage. One mystery I’d love to have cleared up is the significance of a figure worked into the brick on the front of the bell tower. (It’s hard to see in my photo. Emporis has better photos, but I still don’t recognize the symbolism, which almost surely exists.) [Update October 19, 2017: Senior Pastor Debra Samuelson writes that “original architect Vic Gilbertson was an architect, a theologian, an artist and an amazing man. There are many such treasures in the brick all around the church interior and exterior.” She quotes from a book by a former senior pastor, “High on the west side of the tower, God’s grist mill that changes wheat to flour for daily bread is a picture of people accepting the invitation to give themselves to the Church and to the means of grace to become the life supporting loaves of bread.”]

Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, 4801 France Ave. S. (1950)

For this walk, I followed France Avenue only as far as 50th Street. The well-known 50th and France commercial node straddles the border between Minneapolis and Edina. On the northeast corner, a two-story building from the last year of the 20th century contains stores, offices, and a parking ramp.

4999 France Ave. S. (2000)

Returning via 49th Street to my starting point on Beard Avenue, I passed Lake Harriet United Methodist Church again, this time seeing its north face, where the cross is worked into the bricks instead of mounted onto them, and the education wing in the northeast of the property, on Beard Avenue.

Lake Harriet United Methodist Church, 4901 Chowen Ave. S. (1953)

Education Wing, Lake Harriet United Methodist Church

Usually I take all of my photos while walking, but I can’t leave you wondering what I did once I arrived home with bread, cheese, squash, and apples. Not being especially creative, the answer is that I took a slice of bread and put cheese, squash, and apple on top of it (with a sprinkle of salt).

Priscilla Apple, Delicata Squash, and Goat Farmers Cheese on Vollkornbrot

Editor’s Note: Max Hailperin is walking each of Minneapolis’ 87 neighborhoods, in alphabetical order. He chronicles his adventures at allofminneapolis.com, where the original version of this article was published October 16, 2017. We’re sharing them here at streets.mn.

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