At one point, Boulder Bridge Farm was the largest of the “gentleman’s farms” on Lake Minnetonka. A gentleman’s farm was land farmed for pleasure, rather than profit, usually overseen by hired farm managers. In 1906, Edmund Longyear bought Rose Farm near Smithtown Bay for use as a summer residence. The following year he completed a 10,000-square-foot house and boathouse, dredged the lagoon and added a fieldstone bridge. When George Nelson and Grace Dayton became the owners in 1926, they changed the estate name to Boulder Bridge.
The Daytons were always the first family to arrive in the lake area in the spring and the last to leave in late fall, using two Dayton’s department store furniture trucks to move the family to and from the lake.
Dayton increased the farm to 800 acres and raised 200 Guernsey cows, 70 Belgian horses, and other livestock, as well as all of the crops to feed them. The farm also supplied milk and cream to the Dayton’s department store tearooms. In 1950, the farm was auctioned off and later subdivided in the 1980s. The house is still standing today.
Deanna Bunkelman is the president of the Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Historical Society and writes about local history in her monthly column. Learn more about Boulder Bridge Farm at the ELMHS archives.