900 Douglas Ave. S
Minneapolis, MN 55405
Neaby Recreation Center: Kenwood Community Center
Name: The park was originally named Douglas Triangle for the street on which it is located. The name was officially changed to Mt. Curve Triangles (plural), on November 4, 1925, when the previous Mt. Curve Triangle was renamed Fremont Triangle. The park was officially named in honor of Thomas Lowry in 1984.
Lowry is best known for developing the street railway system in Minneapolis. The Lowry Hill neighborhood, in which the park is located, was named because he owned most of the land and built his imposing mansion on the hill.
Lowry was a generous contributor to the park system. He donated to the park board about half of the land that is now The Parade, as well as some land at Lyndale Farmstead Park. He also contributed more than $20,000 in cash for the improvement of The Parade. Through his company, the Minneapolis Street Railway Company, Lowry was an important figure in the development of Lake Harriet. To attract riders on the railway line to the lake, the company built the first entertainment pavilion near the lake on private property in 1888. When that pavilion burned down, the company built a new pavilion on park property on the shore of the lake in 1891. In an agreement with the park board, the company paid for entertainment at the pavilion. When that pavilion also burned down in 1901, the company chose not to build a new pavilion but contributed the $15,000 insurance settlement on the destroyed pavilion so the park board could build its own pavilion at the same location. The company also relocated its track at its own expense, reported to have been $25,000, to create sufficient space for a parkway along the north shore of Lake Calhoun in 1910.
Lowry’s company benefitted from a controversial park board decision in 1892 to allow the company to lay track down the center of Hennepin Avenue south from Loring Park, which was a parkway at the time. The decision prompted park board member and later park board president, William Folwell, to propose that the park board relinquish control of Hennepin Avenue as a parkway due to its ”abandonment to the street railway.” The park board returned control of Hennepin Avenue to the city in 1905.
Acquisition and Development
The first mention of the land in park board documents was in the summer of 1899 when Thomas Lowry and others petitioned the park board to improve and maintain the triangle as a park. The petition was denied because the park board didn’t own the land.
A petition from some residents of the neighborhood to acquire the land for a park was denied by the park board in 1908. A group of residents, including A. C. Loring, who was the CEO of Pillsbury and son of the park board’s first president Charles Loring, 212 petitioned the park board to acquire the land again in 1922, when they learned of plans to build a hotel on the site. Residents of the neighborhood, who would be assessed the cost of acquiring and improving the park, were divided on whether they wanted to pay for the park. The park board’s committee on designation and acquisition of grounds sent the proposal for the acquisition to the full board without recommendation, an unusual indication of at best tepid support for the project. In late 1923 the full board voted to purchase the land for the park for $76,000.
The annual report of 1922 includes a design created for the park by park commissioner and landscape architect Phelps Wyman. The plan for the park was distinctive not only for the pergola at the head of the park, but for the artificial cascade running through the park, from which the park got its informal name of “Seven Pools.” It was also one of only two park designs published in annual reports that were not produced by park board staff. Park superintendent Theodore Wirth noted that Wyman prepared the plan at his invitation. The plan is also unique in that it was printed in color, one of very few color plates printed in annual reports before the 1990s.
Wyman’s plan for the park was mostly executed in 1924, although the pergola was constructed in the spring of 1925. By then Wyman had resigned from the park board to become a landscape architect for the Milwaukee park commission. Wirth called the park one of the “most expensive undertakings” in the history of the park board at a total cost of more than $100,000 for acquisition and improvement, roughly $44,000 per acre. But Wirth also called the “gem” of a park one of the most attractive and satisfactory park improvements ever achieved. “The location of this small park at the entrance to one of the very finest residential districts of the city,” Wirth wrote in the 1924 annual report, “furthermore justifies the expenditure.” The total cost was assessed on area property owners over ten years.
The artificial cascade and seven pools were repaired in 1953. The park was given a makeover—new brick path, new benches and fresh landscaping—in 1997.
History through 2008 written by David C. Smith.