For over 50 years, a gas station has occupied the corner of Water and Third streets in Excelsior. In another lifetime, a noble two-story brick building held the spot.
The Bank of Excelsior was established by Miner Ball in 1886, and the construction of Ball’s Bank Block became a hometown project. The plans were made by a local resident Lewellyn B. Stetson, and it was constructed of brick from the newly-opened Sampson & Gates brickyard in Excelsior. The Bank Block also housed a grocery store and doctor, lawyer and real estate offices, as well as a hotel and restaurant.
The building was destroyed by fire on May 4, 1898. The Minneapolis Journal speculated that the building was burned intentionally, so that it could be burglarized. The ruins of the bank building remained an eyesore for at least four years. The Minnetonka Record, on April 11, 1902, described how someone attempted to take matters into his/her own hands through the use of dynamite. However, this only loosened a corner of the building.
The last mention of the building was two weeks later after a second blast of explosives landed several hundred more bricks in the basement. The site remained vacant until a gas station was built sometime between 1930 and 1949. Records show the current gas station was built in 1972.
Scott McGinnis is a local historian and volunteer for the Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Historical Society. elmhs.org