2251 NE Hayes St.
Minneapolis, MN 55418
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Recreation Center: Windom Northeast Recreation Center
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Name: The park was originally referred to as the Moulton Tract for the family that sold the land to the park board. The park was officially named Windom Park in 1893 for William Windom, a lawyer from Winona, Minnesota. Windom had served in both the United States House of Representatives and Senate from Minnesota from 1859 to 1881, when he was appointed Secretary of the Treasury by President Garfield. When Garfield died eight months after Windom’s appointment, Windom resigned his position and successfully stood for election to his own vacant seat in the Senate. He lost a campaign to be re-elected to the Senate in 1883 and moved to New York City. He was appointed Secretary of the Treasury again in 1889 by President Benjamin Harrison and served in that capacity until his death in 1891. Windom was a friend and business associate of Charles Loring.
When the Committee on Nomenclature was asked by the board in 1891 to report a name for the Moulton tract it was instructed to “consider” naming it “Lookout” or “Logan.” The “Logan” name was eventually chosen for what was then Washburn Park.
Acquisition and Development
The first mention of what became Windom Park was a request from the Northeast Improvement Association on October 1, 1887 that the park board purchase the Moulton Tract. The committee appointed to investigate the matter reported back within a couple weeks that, while it believed the land to be a valuable addition to the park system, the asking price was too high. Within days, however, the park board approved the acquisition of 8.63 acres for Windom Park for $25,000 in November, 1887. Part of the appeal of the land was that it had been used as a nursery, so it already contained many trees.
Small improvements to the park were made in 1888, but in 1889 the board granted permission to J. McCarty to care for the park in exchange for the hay and fruit raised on the land. It wasn’t until 1891 that the park board devoted more attention to the park, when Horace Cleveland was hired to create a design for the park, which the board approved in May of that year.
Other than the installation of two toilets in Windom Park in 1909, few improvements were made to the park. It was, however, included in the free concert schedule beginning in 1908. In 1912, park board proceedings include a resolution to repair the tennis courts at Windom, but there is no record of when those courts were installed. Another resolution in 1914 asks for backstops to be added for those tennis courts. At nearly the same time, residents petitioned for the addition of some playground equipment for children, which the board approved when funds were available. The children’s playground was not added until 1917.
In the park board’s 1921 annual report, on the heels of the board turning down petitions for both more tennis courts and a skating rink for the park, superintendent Theodore Wirth included a plan for the improvement of the park. Wirth’s report noted that “there is no good reason why the eight acre tract cannot be made use of for a fully equipped playground for that district.” But Wirth also noted why the park had not been adapted to more active recreational use up until then. “The topographical formation of the grounds,” he wrote, “is such as to involve radical changes in order to adjust them to such intended use.” In other words, the park was located on a steep hill. He recommended using the east and south portions of the park for active use while preserving the northern and western sections of the park in their “present natural attractive condition.”
At the time, Windom Park, like many other city parks, had carriage drives running through it. With his plans for Windom Park not approved, Wirth recommended in 1924 that his earlier plans be abandoned, but that the park be converted to only pedestrian use.
Windom Park was the site of considerable landscaping work during the Depression by federal work-relief crews, and owing to the persistence of neighborhood petitioners, a warming house for the small skating rink at the park was built in 1939.
Windom Park was the winner of the community sing competition among city parks in 1942, 1943 and 1951. The success of the park in the singing competition likely played a role in the construction of a bandstand in the park in 1951. By the time community singing was nearing an end in the mid-1950s, Windom was one of only three parks still participating.
Windom Park was finally upgraded for more active use in 1963. The eastern half of the park was regraded to provide lighted athletic fields, and a two-story field house and wading pool were constructed. In addition, one of the old tennis courts was converted into a basketball and volleyball court.
A “totlot,” a playground for smaller children, was added to the park in 1975.
In 1991, Windom Park facilities were upgraded when construction was begun on a new recreation center as an addition to Pillsbury School south of the existing park. The two-story shelter built in the 1960s still sits at the center of the park, but is unused except for the toilets.
A broomball rink was added to the park in 2010 to accommodate the increasing popularity of that winter game.
A new playground opened in 2015. It features a 50-foot-long zip line paid for with Neighborhood Revitalization Funds allocated by Windom Park Citizens in Action.
In 2016, outdoor pickleball striping was added to the tennis courts.
History through 2008 written by David C. Smith, with updates from 2009 to present written by MPRB.