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A History of Minneapolis: an Overview by Staff at the Hennepin County Library

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Featuring historical photos and items from the collections of the Hennepin County Library, with contemporary photos from the Phototour of Minneapolis by Chris Gregerson.

Public and Private Schools

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The first educational institution in Minneapolis was started by Rev. J.D. Stevens on the shores of Lake Harriet in 1834. It was for children, including those from Cloud Man's band of Mdewakanton Dakota and from Fort Snelling. By 1849, in St. Anthony, the first private or subscription schools opened. Then in 1851-52, a school was opened on the west side of the river by Mary Schofield.

Union School, circa 1850s.
Minneapolis Collection, Postcards. Schools: Union.

Washington School, on the site of the present City Hall, was erected in 1866 after fire destroyed the previous school building. It was demolished in 1888.
Minneapolis Collection, BR0030.

As the settlers moved into the area, more educational opportunities opened up. By 1874, there were six school buildings in Minneapolis with an enrollment of 2,907 pupils and four school buildings in St. Anthony (part of Minneapolis since 1872) with an enrollment of 900 students. In 1878 it was decided by legislative act that the two community's school boards would be joined and represented by one Board of Education. This Board managed all the public schools for the city of Minneapolis.

The first high school was Central Union High, which opened in 1857 and burned down in 1863. By 1922, the Minneapolis school system had a total enrollment in elementary, junior high, and high school of more than seventy thousand. Today, a multitude of schools and curriculums are offered to the 49,445 students (enrollment figures from September 2001) in the Minneapolis Public School system.

First Central High School (circa 1890). Located at 11th Street and 3rd Avenue South.
Minneapolis Collection, M0032.

The second Central High School building was completed in 1913 and was located at 4th Avenue South between 34th Street and 35th Street.
Minneapolis Collection, Postcard. Schools: Central


Central Union
(also known as Union Washington)
3416 5th Ave South
1st permanent building 1873
2nd permanent building 1913
closed in 1982
Central Ave. between University Ave. S.E. and S.E. 4th Street
opened 1867
closed in 1924
700 22 Ave. N.E.
opened 1933-
2020 43rd Ave. North
opened 1925-
(Miller) Vocational
1101 3rd Ave. South
opened ca. 1916
closed in 1976
1313 5th St. S.E.
merged with University High September 1968
Closed June 1982
Marshall-University formed by merger of Marshall and University September 1968
closed 1982
1500 James Ave. North
opened 1st permanent building 1891
2nd permanent building 1973-
4029 28th Ave. South
opened in 1922-
3131 19th Ave South
1st permanent building opened 1892
2nd permanent building opened 1968-
3414 W. 47th Street
opened 1940-
15th Ave. S.E.
created in 1908 as a laboratory for the U. of M. College of Education
addition completed in 1914
merged with Marshall in 1968
201 W. 49th Street
opened 1925-
2808 Hennepin Ave.
1st permanent building opened 1909
closed 1982

North High, East High, South High, West High.
Minneapolis Collection, Postcards. Schools.

Before the turn of the century many private or parochial schools, colleges, and academies had sprung up. Some of the programs included Bennet Seminary, Augsburg Seminary, Judson Female Seminary, Minneapolis Academy, Stanley Hall, St. Margaret's Academy, Northrop Collegiate School, De La Salle Institute, Blake School, and Dunwoody Institute.

Students of Marshall High School dressed as hobos as part of field day activities in 1940.
Minneapolis Collection, Uncat Photo. Schools: Marshall

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Next: University of Minnesota