2740 Marshall St. NE
Minneapolis, MN 55418
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Name: At the time of its acquisition in 1914 the park was known informally as Northeast Riverside Park. The park was officially named in 1915 for Marshall Street, which passes by the park. The street was named for former Minnesota governor William Marshall. One name considered by the board for the new park was Folwell Terrace, to honor William Folwell, first president of the University of Minnesota and president of the park board 1895-1903. William Marshall played an indirect role in the development of the Minneapolis park system by hiring Horace Cleveland to plan Marshall’s development in the early 1870s of what became the St. Anthony Park neighborhood in St. Paul. Cleveland’s work on that project, as well as other private contracts in the area, kept him active and visible in the region, prior to the creation of the Minneapolis park board in 1883 and the board’s subsequent hiring of Cleveland to develop recommendations for the new park system.
Acquisition and Development
The land for Marshall Terrace was purchased in 1914 for about $15,500. Land for a park in the neighborhood had first been designated in 1913, at Marshall Street between 33rd and 37th Avenue Northeast, but due to protests from neighborhood residents the acquisition was abandoned. The board noted that it was “impracticable” to acquire the land as designated. Instead the board chose to make a thorough canvass of the First Ward, including aldermen and citizens, to select a location for one or more parks that may be acquired and “make every effort to establish the parks to the satisfaction of the people of the First Ward.” (The land originally designated for Northeast Riverside Park was in fact later acquired by the park board and became part of St. Anthony Parkway.)
In May 1914, the board designated new land for the northeast riverside park and approved its purchase. The description of the land was changed slightly in a new resolution to acquire the land in August 1914.
In the 1915 Annual Report, Superintendent Theodore Wirth presented two plans for the development of Marshall Terrace for playground purposes “for which the acquisition was primarily made.” Both plans included a beach house on the river. Those plans were abandoned when the board found that the river’s treacherous currents made swimming there inadvisable. While Wirth presented two detailed plans for use of the property he recommended simply grading the upper portion of the land for use as a baseball and football field. Further improvements, he wrote should be determined after “patronage of the ball fields indicated to what extent the grounds would be used.” Wirth noted that the cost of either of his detailed plans was out of proportion to the size of the park. In recommending only modest improvements, Wirth wrote that a “much larger tract of river frontage land will be due that section of the city later on.”
The board followed Wirth’s recommendation of making only minor improvements. His suspicions about how much the park would be used proved to be well-founded. In 1917 the small shelter built at Marshall Terrace was moved to Farview Park because it wasn’t being used. Wirth called Marshall Terrace “the only play field that has not come up to expectations for attendance and appreciation.” He said the park was so little used that upkeep was not justified.
Wirth’s view of the prospects for the park did not improve. In 1923 he noted that the power plant adjacent to the park made it unfit for a playfield and recommended that the board find another park site in the vicinity.
The park remained little improved until 1961 when the board constructed a small shelter in the park. In the 1960s some dredging of the river for the creation of the city’s Upper Harbor on the opposite (western) bank created fill for the area between the park and the river. The 1968 annual report said that the filled area was seeded and planted, thus increasing the useable space of the park by nearly four acres.
A playground for small children was constructed in the park in 1973.
Marshall Terrace was renovated in 1991 when river overlooks were built, as well as stairs down the riverbank to the shore below. The athletic fields were renovated in 2004. A volleyball court was also built at that time.
A new river-themed playground opened in 2013.
History through 2008 written by David C. Smith, with updates from 2009 to present written by MPRB.