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Minnetonka Historical Society President's Message

Greetings Members and Friends,

Happy Spring!


In 1972, when the Society was first founded, it was legally named the City of Minnetoka Historical Society.  Over the years, it was unofficially shortened to Minnetonka Historical Society, probably because the City of Minnetonka Historical Society was quite a mouthful!  The Board has decided to return to our full legal name as the standard, primarily because that is how our Society is registered with the State of Minnesota as a non-profit.  Over the next several months, you will see our branding change to reflect our original name. 


As you will see below, we are excited to be receiving the donation of a wagon belonging to Dana Frear, Minnetonka’s first historian. 


We continue working to catalogue all of our artifacts, with the assistance of two students attending St. Olaf College and volunteers from the historical society membership. As you can imagine, this is a huge task, but we are now able to share information about them on the MN Collections website.


Our Facebook posts continue to draw many enthusiastic fans!  Be sure to read an excerpt from a recent post with information on Minnetonka Mills blacksmith shop during the 1850s. 


We also have some fun mystery pictures of bygone businesses – do you remember where they were? What takes their place today?  


In December, board member Bill Jepson gave an updated presentation on the history of Glen Lake. We have included a link to the presentation in case you weren’t able to attend. 


In partnership with the Hopkins Historical Society, we are planning a Vintage – Collectible – Antiques Appraisal Extravaganza on September 11, 2022.  More information will be available soon. 


Finally, we are seeking both new board members and volunteers to help our Society grow. If you are interested, please click on the links provided.  We offer flexible, rewarding, educational and fun opportunities to contribute to our community.


Thank you for your continued support!  With warmest regards,


Jan Cook


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New Donation for the Minnetonka Historical Society

The Minnetonka Historical Society will soon be acquiring an exciting new donation - Dana Frear’s childhood wagon, which dates back to the 1890s. The wagon was offered to us by Chuck Kloster, who received it as a gift from Dana (they had a friendship in the early 1960s when Chuck did odd jobs for Dana when he was a teenager). You may remember that currently we have hired a Editor/Writer to finish Dana Frear’s manuscript about the History of Minnetonka for publishing.
Both Chuck and Dana lived within a block or two from the Historic Burwell House. Below is a photo of the old Frear home at

13212 McGinty Road. We will display the wagon in the Burwell museum this summer.

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A toy wagon given to Chuck Kloster’s as a gift from Dana Frear back in the 1960s

Explore our MHS Inventory Online!

 We began work on the project last year where the first step was transferring our collections data from our old system (PastPerfect) into the Collective Access System. It's not complete yet, but now you can browse our collection for an object of interest and examine close up photos of it from all sides. Included are detailed descriptions of the objects and interactive links for further information.

*This project has been financed in part with funds provided by the State of Minnesota from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the Minnesota Historical Society. (See logo)

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MHS Facebook Posts are a big hit!

MHS Board member Rick Kruger has been updating our MHS Facebook and have added a number of very popular posts. Spreading knowledge about the history of Minnetonka is one our missions at the City of Minnetonka Historical Society, and Facebook is a great way of spreading the wealth.  Currently we have about 1600 followers and we are growing. 

Join the group we love the company! 

Here are two recent posts on our Facebook page:

"Let's take a look at another old building in Minnetonka Mills. The blacksmith shop. This building was adjacent to Frear's store. It was just behind it probably where the Dairy Queen is today. You can see the back side of the blacksmith shop from the photo looking East down Minnetonka Blvd. I have attached a photo and labeled the two buildings. Take a look.

The blacksmith shop has a story. It was started by John Bourgeois probably in 1854 / 55. Prior to coming to Minnetonka Mills Mr Bourgeois briefly had a shop on a hill overlooking Wayzata bay in Wayzata. He spent a winter in Wayzata with a Mr. McGalpin who taught him English. The anglo saxon translation of Mr Bourgeois name for some reason became Bushaway. That is where the name Bushaway Road came."

Larson Blacksmith.jpg

"This image is on Minnetonka Blvd and was taken around 1900. You are standing about where Minnetonka Blvd intersects Plymouth Road. The store in front of you is Frear's store. (Dana Frear's parents) To your left would be the Mill or the remains of it, and the Burwell School across the creek. Here are some images of that area over time.

If anyone knows of some history about the Frear's store please feel free to share it."

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Mystery photos

 Do you know where these businesses were located for what years? Any stories connected with them? Please share with us.

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     New Glen Lake History Presentation online

In December of 2021 we presented a new updated History of the Glen Lake area of Minnetonka to about 40 people at the Minnetonka City Hall. There was a lively discussion afterwards. Thanks to the participants!
 Click here to watch the video of the new Glen Lake History presentation on the City of Minnetonka website.

You can watch along with the original power-point slides here (for better resolution)

And you can read the Glen Lake Book which we based much of the presentation on here

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Minnetonka Mills Historic Walking tours

Late spring and summer this year we will be announcing a couple of Historic Walking tours of Minnetonka Mills again. Bill Jepson will be leading the interesting tours on a route from the Burwell house, past the Burwell School, and the old flour Mills on Minnehaha Creek. Then we will walk through the business district and over to the churches and Town Hall on the south side of Minnetonka Boulevard and return across Minnehaha Creek to the Burwell House. He will be using an updated version of the walking tour below on our website homepage. Look for later notices on our website and facebook.

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Minnetonka Historical Society Board

Jan Cook - President -
Lisa Fowler - Vice President -
Jim Whisler - Treasurer -
Stephanie Herrick - Secretary -
Bill Jepson - Millwheel, Website -
Rick Kruger - Social Media -
Ian Baxter - Technology -

MHS CALENDAR Spring Summer 2022

Historic Burwell House tours will be:
June 4 – Aug. 30: 1 – 4PM Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Sept. 3rd – 25th:  1 – 4PM on Saturdays & Sundays.


MHS Museum: Reopens this summer! Same hours as above. 

Historic Minnetonka Mills Tours: Starting in late May 2022.

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