The Burwell House

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Mary Ann Burwell and sons Charles H Burwell (l) 
and William David Burwell 1898

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Charles Henry Burwell Family History

Charles Henry Burwell was born in New Haven, Connecticut in 1838, a descendant of a family traced back to the Revolutionary War and beyond. He came to Minnesota in 1874, leaving his Dane County, Wisconsin farm after the death of his first wife, Mary Ann Faulkes, that same year. He brought with him two children by that marriage -- Anna Marie, born in 1868, and George Faulkes, born in 1873. Members of his family preceding him to Minnesota were his parents, David Munson and Mary Ann Vaughn Burwell, brother William David, and sister Mary Burwell Murison.

C. H. Burwell served as secretary/manager of the Minnetonka Mills Company at its location on Minnehaha Creek, just east of McGinty Road. The mill had a short but productive career, by 1881 producing 300 barrels of flour per day, but closing in 1886 due to competition from the Minneapolis mills. After the closing, Burwell commuted to Minneapolis where he served as a private secretary to Loren Fletcher, prominent Minneapolis businessman and legislator.

On October 29, 1876, Charles Burwell married Mary Carey Dunham, age 21, daughter of a Minneapolis dry goods merchant. The newlywed Burwells made their first home in the Minnetonka Hotel, a building now moved to 12716 Minnetonka Boulevard and serving as a private residence.

In 1882, a daughter, Louise, was born in the hotel. A son, Loring Dunham, was born in 1884, after the family had moved to their newly built home.

The eldest son, George, lived in Minneapolis until his death in 1962. He had two children --Marion Elizabeth Kittell and John David.

Anna Burwell Garland died at the Burwell House in 1904, after a period of poor health and the shock of the accidental death of her four-year-old daughter, Mary. She left a husband, James, and sons, Charles and Gilmore Garland.

Loring Burwell, who never married, died in 1928 after a year's illness following an industrial accident at a test furnace in Brooklyn. According to his obituary, he was poisoned by fumes, and never regained his health.

Louise Burwell, who also never married, inherited the Burwell home upon the death of her mother in 1933. She sold the property to the William Smith family in 1958. After living in the cottage for a time after the sale, she moved to California where she died in 1967.

When Charles Burwell died in 1917, he had both prospered and accumulated considerable local influence. His pride in his imposing Victorian home is indicated by the numerous exterior photos from a wide range of dates, and the fact that so little exterior "updating" occurred through the years.

Now on the National Register of Historic Sites, Charles Burwells home stands as a symbol of that time when milling made history in this area. Its restoration will serve to provide an authentic view of that period.

This restoration effort is fortunate in the number of resources available for research and documentation. Photos, letters, clippings and artifacts help develop the picture of life in the 1880's.

An extensive collection of invoices exist in the files of the Hennepin County Museum and in this society's collection. With the earliest dating from the Centennial year, 1876, they cover the construction of the house in 1883, as well as providing receipts for furnishings, food, clothing, taxes, decoration, etc. They are an invaluable asset to this restoration effort and to the study of history in general.

MINNETONKA HISTORICAL SOCIETY 1976

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