Size: 2.25 acres
Service Area: South
Commissioner District: 3
Master Plan: After two years of extensive community engagement, the Seven Oaks Oval Master Plan was approved in 2016 as part of the South Service Area Master Plan. The Seven Oaks Oval Master Plan will guide outdoor park improvements at Seven Oaks Oval for the next 20-30 years. Click the link below to view the master plan.
Name: The oval was named for the neighborhood as it appeared on plat maps: Seven Oaks River Lots. The name was designated at the same time the board officially accepted the property as a park on June 7, 1922.
Acquisition and Development
The property was dedicated as a park in the plat of Seven Oaks River Lots, July 10, 1913. The board first considered accepting the property February 15, 1922 and after an inspection tour of the property in May, designated the land as a park June 7, 1922.
The acquisition is not mentioned in the 1922 annual report, overshadowed as it was by acquisitions of neighborhood parks such as Sibley, Brackett and Pershing, the expansions of Victory Memorial and St. Anthony parkways and Glenwood Park, and the possible purchases of Lake Hiawatha, and Minnehaha Creek both east of Lake Hiawatha and west of Humboldt Avenue.
Park superintendent Theodore Wirth proposed a plan in 1928 for the topographical oddity—he called it a “deep oval basin” with “fine trees.” The plan called for filling the lowest parts of the basin to a suitable grade and constructing walks through it. Wirth also proposed that two sites in the park be prepared as campfire places, his map says “council sites,” for the Boy Scouts and Camp Fire Girls. That part of the plan likely appealed to park commissioner Maude Armatage who was a leader of the Camp Fire Girls and served on the national organization’s board of directors, but the plan was not implemented.
In Wirth’s comprehensive inventory of parks in his 1932 report, Seven Oaks Oval is lumped with 49 “Other Small Triangles”—even though it is not a triangle and is more than 30 times larger than most of the other properties thrown into that category. Seven Oaks was likely included in that category because, like all but two others, it had cost nothing to acquire, and no money had been spent on its improvement.
Of the 58 triangles, circles, ovals and other tiny parks listed in that 1932 inventory, only 36 survive. Most of the lost park properties were taken by the city or state for traffic purposes.
Seven Oaks Oval is one of only two surviving park properties that is named for a shape that doesn’t have angles. The other is Caleb Dorr Circle near East River Parkway. At one time the park board owned several properties called “circles” or “ovals,” but all the others disappeared, most of them paved over for streets and highways.
Park history compiled and written by David C. Smith.