Minnetonka has a long, proud history dating back to the mid-1800s, when the first settlement was established along Minnehaha Creek.
In 1956, Minnetonka Township incorporated into a village. Minnetonka officially became a city in 1968.
The land that would come to be known as Minnetonka was sacred ground for Native Americans. The dense woods and open prairies made for good hunting, while Lake Minnetonka provided excellent fishing. The Dakotah Sioux and Ojibway Chippewa would cross through Minnetonka as they traveled between Shakopee and Mille Lacs. A major Indian trail through Minnetonka crossed Minnehaha Creek just below the rapids at present-day Minnetonka Mills, then ran along the present Baker and Plymouth roads.
In 1851, Indian tribes signed an agreement allowing settlement of lands west of Fort Snelling, and by 1852, Minnetonka's first settlement was established at the current Minnetonka Mills site. Available water power and the clearing of trees for farms provided the right ingredients for establishment of a saw mill, the only one west of the Mississippi River. A few years later, the addition of a furniture factory created the largest business center in Hennepin County. By 1869, the saw mill was replaced by a flour mill, which operated until the mid 1890s when it could no longer compete with the larger mills on St. Anthony Falls in Minneapolis.
Early settlers came to Minnetonka primarily from New England and other states east of Minnesota, from northern Europe and the British Isles, and from the Czech Republic. The Czechs introduced the techniques to grow raspberries in this climate, a success the neighboring city of Hopkins has been capitalizing on since 1935 with its annual Raspberry Festival.
As Minnetonka was settled, several small, distinct commercial areas, all two to three miles apart with farms and homes in between, developed over the years. Those areas came to be known as Minnetonka Mills, Glen Lake, Groveland and Oak Knoll.
After World War II, between 1946 and 1955, Deephaven, Wayzata, Hopkins and St. Louis Park annexed additional newly developed residential areas in Minnetonka Township. As a township, Minnetonka had no legal authority to stop the annexations. By 1956, Minnetonka Township's area had been reduced from 36 to 28 square miles, while at the same time the population was increasing, growing from 6,466 in 1940 to about 15,600 in 1956.
It was time to become a village. Bill Frommes, who was active in township government, and Carl Dever, a township resident and lawyer who was to serve as village, and later city, attorney for 19 years, led the 1956 effort to incorporate Minnetonka Township into a village. Meanwhile, a group of Minnetonka Mills residents believed one village would be too large and difficult to govern, so they proposed creation of two villages: one north of Minnetonka Boulevard to be called Burwell, and another that included the rest of the township, to be called Minnetonka.
A race to the Hennepin County Courthouse with the paperwork resulted in the proposal for one village being presented just moments before the petition for two villages. The Hennepin County Board of Commissioners decided an election should be held on the question of the entire township becoming a village. About half of the township's eligible voters cast ballots in the hotly contested election, held Aug. 22, 1956, deciding by a vote of 2,309 to 1,275 to change the township to one village. Annexations by adjacent communities were no longer allowed, and Minnetonka's boundaries were stabilized.
As late as the 1960s, Minnetonka still contained many farms, greenhouses and horse pastures. As bus service and highways improved, this second-ring suburb was increasingly accessible to Minneapolis and large tracts of land attracted developers. People continued to move to Minnetonka, with population doubling from 25,000 in 1960 to around 50,000 today.
As the population grew, so did the need for fire and police protection. The new village established its own volunteer fire department, which continues today as one of the largest volunteer fire departments in the country.
The police department grew from one chief and one patrolman, assisted by the Hennepin County Sheriff's department, to more than 80 officers today.
In the mid 1960s, I-494 was built through Minnetonka, and large commercial developments soon followed including the 7-Hi strip mall along County Rd. 101 where SuperTarget now stands. In 1968, the village officially became a city.
During the mid 1970s, city sewer and water lines replaced individual septic tanks and wells in most of Minnetonka. Minnetonka's current city hall was built in 1970, and over time the facility grew to the extensive Civic Center campus it is today, containing a community center, fire station, police department, ice rinks, soccer fields and a water treatment plant.
Ridgedale Mall opened in the early 1970s. In 1982, the Opus Center, a large mixed-use development of office, light industrial, hotel and residential areas was built between Shady Oak Road and Highway 169, just north of the Crosstown.
Minnetonka continues to be the home of many major corporate headquarters - including UnitedHealth Group, Carlson Companies and Cargill - and a thriving mix of diverse businesses, big and small.
|13500 Excelsior Blvd.||1996|
|Martin Giesen House||1996|
|Charles & Mattie Mousseau Cabin||1996|
|Charles H. Burwell Property||1996|
|Ty Abel Corner||1996|
|Leeke House, 16801 Excelsior Blvd.||1996|
|3616 Tonkawood Road||1997|
|4347 Fairview Ave.||1997|
|3841 Baker Road||1997|
|17225 Manor Road||1998|
|5216 Mayview Road||1998|
|Twin Cities Lines Transit||1999|
|Minnetonka Mill Company||1999|