Walking All the Streets of Western Hawthorne

Farview Park is the central feature of Minneapolis’s Hawthorne neighborhood, and fittingly enough, I visited it on all three days’ walks. On the first day, I cut through its northern tier and southeastern corner. On the second day, I started and ended at its southwest corner, but without entering the park itself. This time, I again started and ended at that corner, but I began with a short spur into the park that allowed me to take a closer look at a feature I had seen only from a distance the first two times.

The object of my interest was a metal tower standing next to the park path. Norman Anderson and Katherine Schaefer’s Circle of Vision (2004) is evocative of a sandstone lookout tower that stood in the park until the mid-1960sEach of the eight columns has a viewer mounted in it; two serve as periscopes, while the others present historical images.

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Circle of Vision (Norman Anderson and Katherine Schaefer, 2004), Farview Park

Returning to Lyndale Avenue North, I proceeded northward along the park’s western border. Among the houses facing the park, one particularly stands out for its turreted Queen Anne style. A Placeography page provides information on the tailor Andrew Olson, for whom this house was originally built, although it lists 1886 as the year, versus 1891 on the building permit index card. The city directories support the latter date.

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Andrew Olson House (1891), 2635 Lyndale Ave. N.

Upon reaching the park’s northwest corner, I turned west on 29th Avenue North to the neighborhood’s western border, Emerson Avenue North. Before turning southward on Emerson, I initially took a one-block spur northward, which allowed me to see New Bethel Baptist Church on the southeast corner of Emerson and 30th Avenues North.

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New Bethel Baptist Church, 1115 30th Ave. N.

Returning southward past 29th Avenue, I was set to loop back eastward one block south of there, which is 27th Avenue, though I first explored as far as 26th. What happened to 28th? It’s complicated. I’ve previously described Minneapolis’s street layout as like an unfaithful spouse, frequently straying from the grid but never entirely abandoning it. Perhaps this analogy needs to extended with an element of polygamy, as the city has not just one grid but several. Oddities arise where the grids abut, as they do at Lyndale Avenue north of 26th.

At any rate, 27th Avenue is where I turned off Emerson, and that particular corner turns out to hold an eye-catching single-story building painted in yellow and red. Built in 1910 as a store, it now serves as the Themadones Motorcycle Club’s clubhouse.

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Themadones MC, 2654 Emerson Ave. N.

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Themadones MC, 2654 Emerson Ave. N., from 27th Ave. N.

On 27th, I again went beyond my turning point (Dupont), this time two extra blocks to Bryant. This spur paid off by feeding my hunger for buildings that manifest their former use. The building on the northeast corner of Bryant and 27th Avenues North is currently residential, but one look at it reveals a former life in which the ground floor housed a business. Indeed, the building permit index card shows it was a store at the time of construction in 1903. The building continued to have a commercial use at least through the time of a neon-sign transformer in 1948—although I wonder whether by then it might have been a bar rather than a store.

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2700 Bryant Ave. N.

Once back on Dupont Avenue, I headed all the way north to the neighborhood boundary at Lowry Avenue, which is 32nd Avenue by another name, then retreated to the tee intersection at 31st. Why a tee? More grid pluralism. I took 31st east to Lyndale, where there is a small discontinuity in 31st and a larger one in 30th. This portion of the walk included a tiny overlap with my first day’s route between the two 31st Streets, conveniently right where Bangkok Market & Video Rental is. That let me duck in for a quick snack of pork spring rolls, which confirmed my earlier impression of the place by being just as tasty as the red curry.

After this snack and a spur down to the eastbound version of 30th Street, I returned to the westbound one. The Berean Missionary Baptist Church stands on the northwest corner of 30th and Lyndale Avenues North, the second of the three Baptist churches I saw on this walk.

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Berean Missionary Baptist Church, 704 30th Ave. N.

A couple blocks west of there on 30th, after looping down to 27th via Aldrich and Bryant Avenues, I saw a good example of how this area’s housing mix differs from that in the eastern part of the neighborhood. In the east, I saw a lot of 19th-century buildings and some from recent decades. Here, although I still saw some of those, I also saw more from the 1920s and 1930s, starting to look more like other North Minneapolis neighborhoods further west, such as Folwell and Cleveland, as well as much of South Minneapolis. In this photo, three houses in a row exemplify styles of this period: rustic English cottage, arts and crafts, and Dutch colonial.

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912, 908, 904 30th Ave. N. (1933, 1923, 1922)

After making it through the 30th Avenue grid discontinuity, I continued north on Bryant Avenue to Lowry. I walked the entire northern border of the neighborhood on Lowry, then turned south on Emerson. Among the storefront buildings just south of this corner, the child-care center at 3110 Emerson stands out for its colorful portholes.

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3110 Emerson Ave. N.

Upon reaching New Bethel Church again at the end of the block, I turned east to Colfax Avenue, which I walked all the way from Lowry to its tee at 26th, another grid discontinuity. This tee intersection is midway between the two alternatives for continuing further south: one either jogs eastward to Bryant or westward to Dupont. My route included the Bryant option, but only after two spurs, the first being to Dupont and the second being beyond Bryant to Aldrich.

The house on the southwest corner of Dupont and 26th Avenues North was the most ornate I had seen since the Andrew Olson house on Lyndale, making me wonder about its history. Built in 1891 as a residence for Hartley McGuire, partner in the McGuire Bros. Saloon in Bridge Square, used briefly in 1915 and 1916 as the Fair Oaks Hospital (licensed in December of 1914) and then as a boarding house, it ultimately was converted into a duplex in 1958.

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2523 Dupont Ave. N. (1891)

The spur to Aldrich Avenue took me along the southern side of the Nellie Stone Johnson School. Unlike when I was on the north side, I no longer was facing into sun, making a photo possible. This angle wasn’t very good for the building itself—I got a better one at the end of the walk—but it shows the garden area with colorful signs for “Kids Creation Garden” and “YFMP!,” a reference to the Youth Farm and Market Project.

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Youth Farm at Nellie Stone Johnson School, 807 27th Ave. N., from 26th Ave. N.

After these two spurs, I turned south on Bryant. On the west side of that avenue, the entire 2500 block is occupied by the modern New Salem Missionary Baptist Church, a building that housed the Church of St. Philip until its 2011 merger into the Church of the Ascension. This is as good a point as any for a mea culpa regarding the prior episode. I had reported that Iglesia Vino Nuevo El Rey Jesús took over the Zion Norwegian Lutheran Church’s building. (The Lutheran parish, like the Catholic one, ended in merger.) That’s true enough, but it neglects that there was an intervening period after Zion’s departure and prior to Vino Nuevo’s arrival—a period when that building was occupied by New Salem before its relocation here.

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New Salem Baptist Church (Former Church of St. Philip), 2507 Bryant Ave. N. (1964)

I previously remarked upon the presence of more arts-and-crafts houses from the 1920s in this western portion of the neighborhood. These are sometimes juxtaposed with older styles in sub-block units. For example, the following photo from the 2300 block of Bryant Avenue North shows three houses built in 1904–1905 in the background and two houses from 1924 in the foreground. The older houses are recognizable because they have two full stories and a fractional third story, whereas the arts-and-crafts houses from the 1920s have only a single full story with a fractional second.

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2326–2310 Bryant Ave. N.

A few more blocks south on Bryant brought me to the southern border of the neighborhood, West Broadway Avenue. The two blocks of this busy commercial thoroughfare between Bryant and Emerson are distinct in character, being occupied by a strip mall. Many of the tenants are branches of larger chains, but Yuan Yuan, a Chinese restaurant, seems to be family-owned. They primarily serve a takeout clientele, but they do have a few tables. The mapo tofu I ordered came in a quart container, making it a good value, and appeared to be a vegetarian version that would be more broadly acceptable than the traditional version using pork as flavoring.

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Yuan Yuan (缘源), 1010 West Broadway Ave.

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Mapo Tofu at Yuan Yuan

After leaving the restaurant, I continued north on Dupont Avenue to the 26th Avenue discontinuity. There, I started zigzagging between Emerson and Lyndale Avenues on 26th through 23rd Avenues, beginning with a westward block on 26th to Emerson. The first full-length segment of the zigzag was an eastward one from Emerson to Lyndale on 25th Avenue. As I neared Bryant, I noticed that below New Salem’s massive concrete retaining wall, a smaller partially ruined cinder-block wall had been repurposed as a mural for ChristPower 2015 and 2016.

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ChristPower Mural, 25th Ave. N. Between Dupont and Bryant Aves. N.

Returning westward on 24th Avenue North, I passed the End Time Apostolic Church on the northwest corner with Aldrich Avenue North; the building was constructed in 1938–1939 as a Seventh-Day Adventist Tabernacle.

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End Time Apostolic Church, 2401 Aldrich Ave. N.

Heading south on Emerson Avenue, the most prominent building holds the combination of Agape Child Development, a 24-hour child-care center, and Oasis of Love, a crisis-intervention center for victims of domestic violence and homelessness. The older part of the building dates to 1888, whereas the low-rise portion was added seventy years later; the building housed the Highland Park Nursing Home.

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Agape/Oasis, 2304 Emerson Ave. N.

The final eastward pass only stayed on 23rd Avenue as far as Aldrich before returning to 26th. As I turned from Aldrich onto 26th for the last block back to my starting point, I had a good vantage point to see the whole extent of the Nellie Stone Johnson School.

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Nellie Stone Johnson School, 807 27th Ave. N., from 26th Ave. N.

The school is named after an important Minneapolis labor and civil-rights leader. The subtitle of her autobiography, as told to David Brauer, is The Life of an Activist. The word “activist” may be an understatement; the Publishers Weekly review describes her as “a major force in Minnesota and national politics,” which perhaps comes closer. In any case, it’s a good reminder of another way these walks benefit me. They open me up not only to the little details, but also to the grander sweep of the city’s history.

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 February 1, 2018. We’re sharing them here at streets.mn.

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