Walking All the Streets of Southern Linden Hills

I set out again from the 43rd and Upton/Sheridan commercial node, as I had on my second walk in Linden Hills. More specifically, I started at the point where Sheridan and Upton Avenues South merge together just north of 43rd Street West. On the route map, this starting point is indicated with a green marker from which a green entry segment of the route leads a couple blocks south to the start and end of the blue main loop. As usual, the red segments are forward-and-back spurs. In this case there are also a couple smaller loops on the western side of the route that are connected with purple segments traversed first forward to reach the loop, then later backward after finishing it.

Numerous retail establishments line Sheridan and Upton Avenues between the starting point and 44th Street. One example is Heart of Tibet & Sky Door, described in a 2016 profile by Michelle Bruch in Southwest Journal.

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Heart of Tibet & Sky Door, 4303 Upton Ave. S.

On the southeast corner of Upton and 44th, Lake Harriet Spiritual Community (LHSC) occupies a striking classical revival structure built in 1916 as Lake Harriet Methodist Episcopal Church. I’ve heard a rumor—which I haven’t traced to any authoritative source—that its highly visible dome can be used together with the Washburn Park Water Tower to line up a visual landing approach to MSP. All I can say is that it looks plausible on a map.

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Lake Harriet Spiritual Community, 4401 Upton Ave. S. (1916)

Aside from the LHSC, crossing 44th Street also marked the transition into the purely residential portion of the neighborhood. The southwest corner has a 32-unit condo building, but after that, both sides of the avenue are lined with a mix of single-family houses and duplexes. One exception is that on the block between 45th and 46th Streets, the east side is instead occupied by the top of Beard’s Plaisance, a park that extends down the hill to the lakeside parkway.

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Beard’s Plaisance, Looking East from Upton Ave. S.

After initially following Upton as far as 47th Street (where Linden Hills abuts Fulton), I retreated to 46th Street and turned west. Most of the houses face onto the north-south avenues, but walking an east-west street still let me enjoy the spring flowers, whether in a garden or on a boulevard tree.

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Garden, 4600 Vincent Ave. S., Viewed from 46th St. W.

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Boulevard Tree, 3100 Block of 46th St. W.

After passing along the north side of Southwest High School, I turned south for a block on Chowen Avenue to 47th Street. The west side of this block, across from the school, fits a common 1920s pattern of having houses on a higher grade than the street with garages burrowed into some of the resulting front-yard embankments. However, my eye was drawn to one interesting variant in which one of these garages was apparently converted into additional living space.

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Former Garage, 4604 Chowen Ave. S.

Three blocks west on 47th street brought me to the neighborhood’s southwest corner at France Avenue, where I turned north. On France Avenue, the residential land use continued through the 4600 block and southern half of the 4500 block before turning commercial. First came the Lake Harriet Masonic Center, followed by a strip mall, gas station, hair-color store, and then, on the north side of 44th Street, the largest retail establishment in the area, the France 44 liquor store and its associated cheese shop.

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France 44, 4351 France Ave. S., Viewed from 44th St. W.

That photo of France 44 is from after I turned onto 44th Street. (First I had walked a spur past the store’s western side as well as Westgate Pet Clinic.) A sharp right from 44th Street allowed me to complete a triangle back to France Avenue via Sunnyside Avenue. I stopped in at Linden Hills Co-Op for a bowl of soup.

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Linden Hills Co-Op, 3815 Sunnyside Ave.

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Russian Cabbage and Tomato Soup at Linden Hills Co-Op

Passing behind the co-op on 45th Street, I continued along the back side of their neighbor, Sunnyside Gardens. Even this less-traveled portion of the garden center was overflowing with color.

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Hangable Plants behind Sunnyside Gardens (3723 44th St. W.) on 45th St. W.

Turning south on Ewing, I encountered another example of the diversity of housing forms present in Linden Hills—a theme from my first and second walks. This one is a rarity, a modernist duplex from the late 1960s. (Looking at it, I had thought it was attached townhouses, but the property records show it as a single two-unit structure.)

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4507–4509 Ewing Ave. S. (Duplex, 1968)

Soon thereafter I finished looping through the southwestern part of the neighborhood and rejoined the route’s main loop at 47th and Chowen, passing in front of Southwest High School on 47th Street. The photos show both the original art-deco entrance from 1940 and the present red-trimmed entrance from 2016, located at the junction to the newer addition. The 1940 entrance has been filled in with fixed windows, and the upper portion of the steps leading to it have been planted as a garden. That garden is one of several locations around the building for bird feeders, which are explained by a sign on the Chowen Avenue side as being for Ms. Lona Bierden’s environmental science class, focused in particular on orioles.

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Southwest High School, 3414 47th St. W.

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Southwest High School, 3414 47th St. W.

I take quite a bit of interest in the creative street number signs I see as I walk, but most of them are too small to show up well in photographs taken from the street. The one at 4540 Abbott Avenue South was a clear exception. (Just a few blocks later I saw another strong contender, the illuminated neon tubes at 4441 Beard Avenue South.)

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4540 Abbott Ave. S.

Abbott Avenue lead me to 44th Street, where I turned back south on Beard Avenue. First, though, I stopped in at the Linden Hills branch of Turtle Bread, which was the original location. Regular readers while recall that I also visited the present main location in the Field neighborhood and the Longfellow branch in the Howe neighborhood. Looking back at those earlier posts, I see that this is the second time I’ve opted for strawberry rhubarb pie. Comparing the photos, I’d have to say the Linden Hills slice was better looking than the one in Howe, though no tastier.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Pie at Turtle Bread, 3421 44th St. W.

Immediately after turning south on Beard, I paused to document another architectural oddity. Not the brown building at the left of the photo—that’s a pretty typical small-scale apartment building from the 1920s. (Linden Hills isn’t as rich in those as some neighborhoods, but it still is far from an oddity.) Rather, the building painted charcoal grey interests me. That’s one end of a roughly L-shaped building, previously housing an auto-service business, which wraps around the building on the corner of 44th and Beard—the tan building at the right of the photo. The other end of the L is on 44th Street. One unusual consequence is that this entrance on Beard Avenue, which is not at the intersection with 44th, has a 44th Street address. That address comes from the 44th Street wing, Penny’s Coffee, which I’ll visit on my next walk. The wing photographed here is the associated “Penny’s Studio” meeting space.

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4410–4412 Beard Ave. S. (4 2BR & 1 1BR, 1927) and Penny’s Studio

Once Beard Avenue dead ended at Southwest High, I retreated to 45th Street. There I did a westward spur to the dead end west of Chowen, then started heading back east toward Upton. I interrupted this eastward traversal of 45th Street for three loops to catch the north-south avenues that lie between 44th and 47th streets: Zenith and York, Xerxes and Washburn, and finally Vincent and a combination of Lake Harriet Parkway and Thomas Avenue.

The house at 4441 Zenith Avenue South doesn’t attract attention as one walks by, but it played an important if ignominious role in the history of the neighborhood. In 1909, it was here that the “oust[ing]” of “negro families” from the area began. In the time the house took to grow from a single story to its current two-story configuration, the demographics of the neighborhood have changed, though they still remain much less racially diverse than the city as a whole.

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4441 Zenith Ave. S.

Because Xerxes Avenue is a main thoroughfare, I had to remind myself to pay attention to the houses I was passing rather than just rushing along. They are of a rather broad range of ages and styles. The one I photographed clearly predates the construction boom of the 1920s; indeed, the core of the building is from 1905.

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4637 Xerxes Ave. S. (1905)

The parish campus of St. Thomas the Apostle lies between Washburn and Vincent Avenues on the north side of 44th Street. The westernmost structure is the newest, a parish office and rectory dating from 1958. Then come two components from the original 1925 construction, the church and a school wing, now the lower campus of Carondelet Catholic School. (I encountered the upper campus, originating from the Christ the King side of the merger, when I walked the Fulton neighborhood.)

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St. Thomas the Apostle Parish Office and Rectory, 2914 44th St. W. (1958)

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St. Thomas the Apostle Church, 2900 44th St. W. (1925)

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Carondelet Catholic School Lower Campus, 2900 44th St. W. (1925)

The church building doesn’t look surprising to my eye, but it has a surprising history. The school building does look a bit odd—it’s asymmetrical, with an arcaded gable on the left and a plainer, lower portion on the right—and that turns out to connect with the same history. When the church first moved to this location from the building I saw on the previous walk as Minneapolis Friends Meeting and Mayim Rabim Congregation, the idea was to build a grand school including a large auditorium, which could temporarily also serve as a church. Subsequently an even larger permanent church would be constructed on the corner with 44th Street. “However, the stock market crash of 1929 and the Great Depression which followed made those plans no longer realistic.” As a result, the “temporary” church remains in use today. As to that asymmetrical school building, the local history group explains that “a second school building, in the mirror image of the first, was envisioned for the west side of the auditorium” where the rectory now is.

After taking Vincent Avenue to 47th Street, I proceeded north along the shore of Lake Harriet. As the photo shows, there are pedestrian and bicycle paths along the lake, then the roadway of Lake Harriet Parkway, and finally the houses whose back sides I had seen on Upton Avenue at the start of the walk. The green expanse at the right of the photo is the start of Beard’s Plaisance.

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Lake Harriet Pkwy.

Although my main loop turned inland at 45th Street, I temporarily continued on the parkway as far as 44th Street, which allowed me to see the ducks of Lake Harriet—not the real ones, which are abundant, but the two dressed-up statues.

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Ducks of Lake Harriet at 44th St. W. and Lake Harriet Pkwy.

Returning to 45th Street, I followed its curve into a block-long segment of Thomas Avenue distinguished by a park median, Dell Park. My attention was drawn to a much smaller feature, though—a tile representation of a fish that is incorporated into the foundation wall of one of the houses, just for pretty.

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House with Fish Tile, 4411 Thomas Ave. S.

From 44th Street I returned to Vincent Avenue and curled around to the start of my main loop, 45th and Upton. Still left for another day is the portion of the neighborhood that includes Waveland Triangle, Penny’s Coffee, and the western half of Linden Hills Park.

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 May 23, 2019. We’re sharing them here at streets.mn.

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