1304 N 10th Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55411
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As the result of an agreement with the Phyllis Wheatley Community Center (PWCC), the building that formerly housed Bethune Recreation Center is now leased entirely by PWCC. We continue to offer both indoor and outdoor programming in Bethune Park.
See what's currently in the works for this park. Some projects may be under the name of the regional park or service area it lives within. View Current Projects
Name: The park was originally referred to as Grant Park after Grant School nearby, which was named for President Ulysses S. Grant. The park was officially renamed on June 7, 1972 to honor Mary McLeod Bethune, a teacher and civil rights activist. The name of the elementary school next to the park had already been changed from Grant to Bethune. Bethune was the founder and long-time president of Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida. She was a special advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt on minority affairs in the 1930s and vice president of the NAACP in 1940. At the time the park was named for Bethune, the park board also designated the name “Phyllis Wheatley Community Center” for the recreation building in the park.
The original Grant School, which opened in 1889, was actually located at 12th and Girard a few blocks north of the present Bethune Park and school.
Acquisition and Development
The first mention of the park site is found in the 1962 annual report of the park board, which noted that $200,000 was earmarked for a park in the park board’s 1966 capitol improvement plan if the Minneapolis housing authority had land available for park development at the site. Another $350,000 in capitol improvement funds was targeted for development of the site as a park in 1967 and 1968.
In 1965, the site for the park and a new elementary school was selected and preliminary plans for the site were developed in conjunction with the housing authority as part of a major urban renewal project in the area. The next year, the park board received approval from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for a grant for federal funds to help develop the site as a park-school-social agency complex. As part of planning for the joint use of the property by the park and school boards and a social service agency, the park board contracted with Phyllis Wheatley Neighborhood Services to operate programs at the planned facility.
In 1968 the deal to acquire the land from the housing authority was finalized and a joint-use agreement was signed with the school board for the recreation center attached to the school. The intent of the park board and the housing authority at the time was to trade land, with the park board acquiring land for Bethune Park and the housing authority getting the land that was then Sumner Field Park for housing development. The second step of that agreement was never completed, however, and the park board retained Sumner Park, too.
Development of the park and construction of the Grant Neighborhood Center, which was later named the Phyllis Wheatley Community Center, began in 1969.
In 1989 the park board spent more than $200,000 renovating the center and the park, including a new tot lot for small children, which was dedicated in 1990.
The playground and wading pool were replaced in 2015.
History through 2008 written by David C. Smith, with updates from 2009 to present written by MPRB.