Matthews Park, 2318 29th Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota
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|Address:||2318 29th Avenue S|
|Location of Site:||Between 27th and 29th Avenues South, and north of East 25th Street.|
|Neighborhood/s:||Seward, Minneapolis, Minnesota|
|Hennepin County, Minnesota|
|State/province:|| Minnesota |
|Other Historic Function:||Housing/Residential|
On May 7, 1969 Matthews Park was officially named after Charles E. Matthews, a long-time resident of Seward Neighborhood, and a community activist who strongly advocated for this additional green space. The neighborhood was without a park for over fifty years after the loss of Longfellow Field in 1917, and it took from 1961 to 1969 to fully realize the goal of a park for Seward. The new park combined services with Seward Elementary School beginning in 1968. The construction of Matthews Center in 1969 was a three-way partnership between the park, school and Pillsbury Waite Neighborhood Services, thus becoming the first park in the nation to share facilities with both a school and community service center. Matthews Center and Matthews Park underwent a major renovation in 1993-1995, and the playground was again upgraded in the summer of 2009.
Every two years in September the neighborhood comes together to celebrate King's Fair. Organized around a theme, there are contests, information booths, arts and crafts for sale, food, music and performances, and various activities for all ages. This commemorates the elaborate fairs staged by Colonel William S. King during the period 1877-1882. Of more recent origin, every June the local African immigrant community holds an African Peace Festival at Matthews Park with food, music and other activities, including a Naturalization ceremony for new United States citizens.
In order to form space for the park, some homes were moved from the site and the large hill was created. Historically, King's Fair was located north of 24th Street, so part of Matthews Park as well as Matthews Center and Seward Elementary (now Seward Montessori) are located on former fairgrounds, with property abstracts from this area calling it the 'Fairground Addition.'