4901 S Minnehaha Park Drive
Minneapolis, MN 55417
Sundays and Holidays: noon-4 pm
Memorial Day through Mid-September
Part of: Minnehaha Regional Park
Public Art Sculpture: Colonel John Stevens
Private Tours and Small Group Tours available with reservation.
Special Events offered throughout the year.
The John H. Stevens House is owned and maintained by the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board; the programs, tours and general operations are provided and managed by a volunteer community board.
Major investments at Central Gym Park in 2018 were made possible with funding from the 20-Year Neighborhood Park Plan. This historic agreement between MPRB and the City of Minneapolis helps address racial and economic equity across 160 neighborhood parks and provides $11 million annually to maintain, repair and replace facilities.
Stevens was an early settler in St Anthony in 1849. He built the first wood frame house on the west bank of the Mississippi River, just above St Anthony Falls, in what was to become Minneapolis. That house was later acquired by the park board and is now located in Minnehaha Park.
Charles Loring first suggested acquiring the Stevens House and placing it in Riverside Park in 1887. At one time the park board considered placing the house in Loring Park instead, but then returned to the original plan. The house was relocated in 1896 to Minnehaha Park in a most unusual display of civic participation. The house was pulled by an estimated 10,000 school children, tugging on huge ropes in relay fashion.
A statue of Stevens has also adorned Minneapolis parks since 1911. It was commissioned by Stevens’ daughter, Katharine Stevens Winston, and donated to the city. The park board accepted the statue, with the approval of the Municipal Art Commission, for placement in Stevens Circle. Stevens Circle was then known as Portland Avenue Triangle at Portland and 6th Avenue South. In the resolution accepting the statue, park commissioner Portius Deming said that it portrayed a man who “rocked the cradle of Minneapolis in its infancy,” and a man who was “loved for his generous character, gentle personality and unblemished life.” The statue was created by sculptors Jacob Fjelde (who also created the statue of Hiawatha and Minnehaha above Minnehaha Falls) and John Gelert. When the Municipal Art Commission approved the statue for placement on public land in late 1910 it did so with the suggestion that “in better keeping with the natural dignity of the figure the hat be removed or else held in the hand” and that the statue be given “a suitable architectural background or setting rather than to stand as an isolated figure.” Neither suggestion was followed.
Stevens Triangle was turned over to the city council for traffic purposes in 1935 and the statue of Stevens was relocated to Minnehaha Park. It now stands near the entrance to the Stevens House in the park.
Park history compiled and written by David C. Smith.