1300 Water St. NE
Minneapolis, MN 55413
The Sheridan Veterans Memorial, honoring all Minnesota veterans, is centered around a large spherical sculpture of protective shields, created by local artist Robert Smart. The memorial emphasizes the cost of war as well as the importance of peace. The perimeter walk has quotes about peace engraved in granite. The memorial is surrounded by peace gardens and vertical markers describing the ten conflicts in which Minnesotans have served. Artist Smart also created the steel and granite markers with faces of veterans cast in iron.
Name: Sheridan Memorial Park is the second Minneapolis park named Sheridan. The first was at University Avenue Northeast and 12th Avenue Northeast adjacent to Sheridan School, a half-mile east of the present park.
Acquisition and Development
The park board purchased the 1.25 acres of land for the original Sheridan Field in 1912 for about $7,000. It was a half-block of land across 12th Avenue Northeast from Sheridan School. At the same time the school board purchased additional land on the block and the park board requested that the city council vacate 12th Avenue between the school and new park/playground.
While the new playground was provided with a backstop for a baseball field and a warming house for ice-skating, few other improvements were made to the park. In the early 1920s park superintendent Theodore Wirth urged the park board to either expand the playground or abandon it. He believed the site was too small. It was “inadequate,” he wrote, to provide for the “large attendance (it) constantly attracts.” In the 1924 annual report Wirth presented a plan for the enlargement and development of the park, but that was the last mention of the possibility of expanding the playground.
A new, much larger Sheridan School was built on the site in 1932, and the following year the park board granted the school board permission to use the park as a playground for the school, provided that all maintenance and improvements would be the responsibility of the school board.
But it wasn’t until 1953 that the park board officially abandoned the site. In a land swap with the school board, the park board gave up the under-sized Sheridan Park, which was used solely as a school playground, for the site of the former Trudeau School at 9th Avenue Southeast and 4th Street Southeast. The park at the Trudeau site was named Elwell Field. It was the second park with that name, the other had been sold to a manufacturing company in 1952 and replaced by HolmesPark. The second Elwell Field was eventually condemned by the state highway department for the construction of the I-35E freeway. The park board was paid $125,000 for the condemned land.
Today’s Sheridan Memorial Park is on the site of the former Grain Belt Brewery along the northeast Minneapolis riverfront. The first lot for the park was purchased in 1986 and a second parcel was purchased in 1995 with funds from the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources, which was created to allocate proceeds from the Minnesota Lottery. The foundry that once existed on the site was demolished in 1997.
In 1995, a group of WWII veterans from northeast Minneapolis, led by Ed Karbo Sr., began looking for a site along the Mississippi River to commemorate war veterans. They joined forces with Sheridan Neighborhood Organization in 2005 and approached the park board about locating the memorial in what became Sheridan Memorial Park in Above the Falls Regional Park.
A plan for the development of the park was approved in 2007. Since then the park expanded several times, giving park planners more area to develop. In 2007 Virginia Puzak donated more than four acres of land to expand the park to the north along the river and in 2009 the park board was given two lots on the southern edge of the park by Dr. Frank Galka. A land swap with the City of Minneapolis also added two acres to the park. The land was included in a swap of land between the park board and the city near Shingle Creek.
A project to stabilize the river bank at the park was initiated in 2008 with funding from the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization. Tree planting on the shoreline, grading and landscaping continued in 2009.
After receiving funding from the Minnesota State Legislature and Sheridan Neighborhood Organization in 2010, the memorial was designed and construction finally began in 2013.
The memorial honors all Minnesota veterans. It’s centered on a large spherical sculpture of protective shields created by local artist Robert Smart. The perimeter walk around the sculpture features quotes about peace engraved in granite. Along the walk, peace gardens were planted and vertical markers stand, describing the ten conflicts in which Minnesotans have served. Smart imbued the steel and granite markers with faces of veterans cast in iron.
The memorial’s grand opening was celebrated on June 28, 2014. It featured remarks from park board officials and public dignitaries, as well as comments by Smart and Howard Weller, who at age 85 was the last surviving member of the northeast Minneapolis WWII veterans group that first envisioned the memorial.
In 2015 the park board was awarded a $500,000 federal grant to help fund a host of planned improvements at the park and in 2016 the Mississippi East Bank Trail was built. The two-way, off-street, lighted riverfront trail runs through Sheridan Memorial Park.
History through 2008 written by David C. Smith, with updates from 2009 to present written by MPRB.