Then & Now

The historic grand hotels of the late 1800s evoke regality, respect and awe. Images of men in tails and women in ball gowns float to mind when we reminisce about the good old days.

Lakeside views of brilliant sunshine sparkling on the water. Tethered sailboats bobbing in gentle rolls of incoming waves. This year, St. Martin’s by-the-Lake Episcopal Church will celebrate 125 years of worship near scenes just like this, which have delighted parishioners for decades.

Today’s young Tonka United soccer players may not realize it, but their popular local program was, in fact, founded by an Englishman.

What are the questions that have been nagging you about Lake Minnetonka’s past that you’ve never quite been able to answer? We gathered a few of the stumpers and turned to the local historical societies around the lake for some clarification.

As the ice cover fades, Minnesota’s iconic gallery of shimmering lakes heralds the beginning of spring—after “ice out” is declared, that is.

In the late 1800s, agricultural discoveries at some of the large land-grant universities, such as the University of Minnesota, were often ignored by immigrant farmers who imported their agricultural techniques from Europe that had been passed down for generations.

Loungers around the lake in the summer can’t help but notice the flashy yellow antique steamship with a triangular red flag proclaiming “Minnehaha” as its smokestack puffs away into the blue sky.

It’s no surprise that Betty Peck of Shorewood is known as the human encyclopedia. After all, she’s been a fixture of the Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Historical Society (ELMHS) for nearly 40 years, and has been witness to many changes in the lake-area community.

Native Americans and early white settlers around Lake Minnetonka knew of the abundant berries, chokecherries, plums and grapes that grew wild along the rich soil of the lake.

When Deephaven was a wild woodland with nothing more than a twisty wagon trail winding under the maple trees, Charles Gibson visited and envisioned a grand hotel on the spot.

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