Walking All the Streets of Southwestern Fulton

The fourth and final fraction of my fall Fulton fieldwork consisted of the quadrant to the south of 50th Street West and to the west of Xerxes Avenue South, as shown in the following route map. As usual, the red lines show forward-and-back spurs off of the main loop and the light blue tint shows the full neighborhood.

Heading west on 51st Street from Xerxes Avenue, I was reminded a block later how sparse my usual engagement with Minneapolis is. The Fulton neighborhood is not far from my apartment, and I’ve traversed both 50th Street and Xerxes Avenue many times. Yet my familiarity clearly didn’t extend even a single block off of those main streets, because an institution at 51st and York took me by surprise. The school building associated with the Church of Christ the King stands on that corner. What seems to be a bricked-up former entryway is still surmounted by the name “Christ the King,” though the school is now operated as the upper campus of Carondelet Catholic School, following a 1992 merger and a 2003 renaming.

Carondelet Catholic School Upper Campus, 3210 51st St. W.

The entry function has now shifted to a newer segment linking the school building to the church itself. I was interested to see that despite the comparatively modern style of this new entry, it still echoes the gothic arches of the church. Likewise, the church’s sign is unambiguously modern in style, yet incorporates three of the gothic windows as a logo.

New Entry to Church of Christ the King

Church of Christ the King, 51st St. W. and Zenith Ave. S.

As on my previous days in the neighborhood, I saw houses of thoroughly mixed ages: plenty from the 1920s, when much of the development occurred, but also plenty from the 21st century, when rebuilding and major remodeling is surging. (Indeed, I passed several lots where those activities were in progress on the day of my walk.) Importantly, the neighborhood wasn’t stagnant between these two big waves. Many of the older homes have additions dating from the intervening decades, and even new construction continued for several decades after the initial push. For example, the rambler at the corner of 51st and Beard is clearly from the 1950s.

5100 Beard Ave. S. (1953)

At the western end of my walk down 51st Street, I reached the city boundary at France Avenue and the southern edge of the 50th and France commercial node. The southeast corner of 51st and France has the “Edina” location of Casa de Corazón, a Spanish immersion child care center.

Casa de Corazón, 5101 France Ave. S., Minneapolis (Viewed from 51st St. W.)

Turning initially south on France Avenue for a single-block spur, I was interested to see the radio-controlled sign indicating the status of three parking ramps. Even though to my naked eye it seemed that all three OPEN signs were fully illuminated, when I tried to take a photo, only some of the green LEDs showed up. This is a clue that they are actually illuminated in a scanned fashion, relying on the eye’s persistence to create the illusion of being all on. It occurred to me to take a short video so that the video’s frame rate and the scanning rate of the LEDs would combine in a stroboscopic fashion, creating the illusion of a much slower scan rate.

The entire block of France Avenue from 51st to 50th Street and the entire block of 50th Street from France Avenue to Ewing are occupied by retail and food-service businesses. (This contrasts with the 50th and Xerxes node, which like most other commercial nodes in residential neighborhoods extends only about a half block in each direction.) Indeed, even the eastern side of Ewing has a retail strip, which includes Agra Culture Kitchen & Press, my lunch stop.

Southeast corner of Ewing Ave. S. and 50th St. W.

Agra Culture is a small local chain providing “healthy fast-casual food.” I chose a tasty salad combining sautéed bulk vegan chorizo from The Herbivorous Butcher with spinach, arugula, kale, pickled red onion, carrot slivers, chunks of golden beets and asparagus, green onions, and almonds.

Chorizo Salad at Agra Culture

After leaving the commercial district, I followed Ewing Avenue south as far 54th Street before backtracking to 53rd, which I walked all the way from France to Xerxes. Because many of the houses are from the 1920s, I wasn’t surprised to see a lot of stucco—it was a popular siding choice at the time. One feature that I noticed with interest was the range of techniques used to add texture. In many cases it came from aggregate incorporated into the stucco or from fancy troweling. However, one house on the corner of 53rd and Abbott appeared to have some distinct material added between coats. If any of my readers recognizes the technique pictured below, I’d appreciate an explanation.

Stucco with Applied Texture, 5300 Abbott Ave. S. (Viewed from 53rd St. W.)

After reaching Xerxes, I backed up to York Avenue and initially headed south to the dead end just north of Minnehaha Creek. As I had previously noted at Washburn Avenue, a concrete chute leads down to the creek from the end of the roadway, apparently to channel stormwater.

Turning back northward on York Avenue, I began the first of three swings north on one avenue and back south on the next. One particularly interesting sight on York was a sculpture in the front yard of Pete Driessen’s house in the 5100 block. Rian Kerrane’s Baggage (2014) is formed from cast iron, clothing, steel, wood, and concrete.

Continuing into the 5000 block, two century-old houses across from the Carondelet parking lot serve as an example of how distinguishing roofs can be, even in this case on what are otherwise essentially twins.

5025 and 5029 York Ave. S. (1917)

The houses in this neighborhood have been remodeled in too many different ways to catalog them all. In some, the addition is made to look as old as the original, and in others the original portion is re-sided to look as new as the addition. In many cases, though, the two ages of construction remain visually distinct. The 5200 block of Zenith offers a clear example; the 1926 original is readily apparent despite the recent additions.

5227 Zenith Ave. S. (1926)

Continuing further south on Zenith, it takes a bend to join with 54th Street. This is the furthest west spot where the Fulton neighborhood’s street layout is influenced by the creek. On the left of the following photo, the ground slopes down to the creek in park-board property. On the right of the photo, the stone wall on the curve and the mid-century modern house to its right mark the start of Edina. To the west of Xerxes Avenue, only the houses on the north side of 54th Street are in Minneapolis.

Zenith Ave. S. and 54th St. W.

From 54th Street, I took Abbott Avenue north to 50th Street, then turned back south on Beard. Lake Harriet Christian Church is on the southeast corner of 50th and Beard.

Lake Harriet Christian Church, 5009 Beard Ave. S. (1950)

A bit further down that block, the house at 5025 Beard Avenue South has a sign in the one of the porch windows advertising a sale in the studio, November 11 (2017), 10–3. I’m not sure who the artist is, but perhaps someone reading this in the intervening week will check it out and report back in the comments. Also of note, Minnesota Historical Society’s photo from 1937 shows that the house looked much the same then.

5025 Beard Ave. S.

One of reasons I enjoy my walks—even on gray days like this—is that I get to practice keeping a “beginner’s mind,” open to whatever I experience, rather than looking for something specific. Sure, I know I’ll see lots of buildings. But I don’t know what else I’ll see, or even at what scale and in what direction. It might be a broad tree canopy overhead, or it might be a single leaf fallen into the flower bed at my feet, as in this case.

Fallen Leaf, 5100 Block of Beard Ave. S.

Returning to the topic of remodeling, as I headed north on Chowen Avenue, I spotted a comparative rarity: a house from the 1920s that was left the same size (925 square feet on the main level) but utterly transformed in appearance. The work by w.b. builders looked like it was just wrapping up.

5248 Chowen Ave. S. (1926, Remodeled 2017)

More retail and food-service businesses occupy the block of 50th Street between Chowen and Drew. Essentially the 50th and France retail node extends all the way to Chowen, three full blocks to the east of France, though in a less pedestrian-oriented form. On the north side, Wuollet Bakery caught my eye first, while on the south side, cryotherapy and a beauty bar (both of which are outside my ken) share a strip mall with a Subway sandwich shop. Note the parking lots intervening between these businesses and the sidewalk, the sign that this area is optimized for drivers rather than pedestrians.

Wuollet Bakery, 3602 50th St. W.

Strip Mall, 3615 50th St. W.

From there, I finished my route by looping through Drew Avenue, 54th Street, France Avenue, 52nd Street, and Xerxes Avenue back to my starting point. With the exception of an automotive service shop on France Avenue, this took me through more of the residential neighborhood, broadly consistent with what I had previously seen, aside from including more duplexes.

Having finished Fulton, I’ve now completed 29 of the 87 neighborhoods and industrial areas, which is to say, exactly one third. I’m looking forward to the remaining two thirds, starting with Hale. I hope you’ll stay with me!

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 November 4, 2017. We’re sharing them here at streets.mn.

Max Hailperin

About Max Hailperin

Max Hailperin's personal project is allofminneapolis.com. Minneapolis has 87 neighborhoods, including the three industrial areas. Some he knows well, others he has not yet entered. However, he has committed to explore all of them on foot: every block of every street in every neighborhood. He is working through the neighborhoods alphabetically, from Armatage to Windom Park, so as to focus in one area, then hop to somewhere else.

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