Victory Memorial Parkway, Minneapolis,Minnesota
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Victory Memorial Parkway
|Address:||Victory Memorial Drive N|
|Location of Site:||Lowry Ave N to Humboldt Ave N 45th Ave N|
|Neighborhood/s:||Victory, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Camden, Minneapolis, Minnesota, North Minneapolis, Minneapolis, Minnesota|
|Hennipen County, Minnesota|
|State/province:|| Minnesota |
|Founded by:||Theodore Wirth, Charles Loring|
|Historic Function:||WWI Memorial|
|Other Historic Function:||WWI Memorial|
|Current Function:||Historic district|
Originally called Glenwood-Camden Parkway, the acquisition of the lands over which it was built began in 1910 and ended the following year. It was initially planned by the Park Board that the space would be used for straight roadways, walks, and green spaces in between with spaced play spaces.
Construction began soon after acquisition finished, but it came to a halt in the spring of 1917 as World War I dwindled resources and money. During this halt in construction, the idea of Victory Memorial Drive was hatched. Minneapolis Parks Department's landscape architect Phelps Wyman created the design. Theodore Wirth in the 1918 annual Minneapolis Parks Department report, discussed the use of “long parallel rows of stately trees” on a drive as a commemoration of the fallen Minnesota soldiers of World War I. Before each tree would be a monument to the soldier it represented.
The parkway was dedicated on June 11, 1921. When completed, the parkway was just over four miles long. It started in the south between 19th Avenue North and Lowry. It extended along the western boundary of Minneapolis. This section of the parkway was approximately one mile long and formed a 62-acre park. The parkway turned at 45th Avenue North and continued for nearly three miles, forming a 112-acre park (previously farm land). The parkway then connected Webber Parkway and Charles C. Webber Park.
In subsequent years, flags and wreaths were placed at the trees by the American Legion on Memorial Day. In addition, Memorial Day remembrances were held on the drive. On Decoration Day 1923, the American Legion of Hennepin County replaced the wooden flagpole at the point where the drive turns (45th and Xerxes) with a bronze one. The pole was set in an ornamental brick base containing eight bronze tablets. They contained messages from General John J. Pershing, another from Marshal F. Foch, another with the Preamble of the Constitution, and others with the names of soldiers and other appropriate inscriptions.
In 1924, a memorial tree was planted in honor of each of the ten Hennepin County posts of the Grand Army of the Republic, which was supported by the American Legion. The trees were planted around the flagpole in the apex of the triangle where the drive turns at a right angle. The trees were known as the “Grand Army Circle”. The markers in front of each tree were originally wooden crosses. They were replaced by bronze stars and crosses in 1928. The crosses and stars showed the name, rank and company of the soldier they remembered (crosses placed for Christian soldiers and stars were placed in honor of soldiers of the Jewish faith). The American Legion posts of Minneapolis assumed responsibility for the maintenance of the markers.
The American Legion installed the dedication tablet for Victory Memorial Drive in 1928 to mark the tenth anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended World War I. At this time, the wooden crosses in front of each tree were replaced by bronze stars and crosses. In 1996, in conjunction with the 75th anniversary of Victory Memorial Drive, the Drive was rededicated to all Hennepin County soldiers who have lost their lives while serving their country.
The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board developed a Master Plan for the restoration and preservation of the Parkway in 2004. Their objectives were to preserve green space and views, to preserve the historic integrity of the Parkway, to rebuild and improve the trails, to highlight areas through gateway plantings and gardens, and to enhance signage.
When the Legislature designated Victory Drive as a State Historic District in 2003, officials with the county, state, cities of Minneapolis and Robbinsdale, Minneapolis park board and veterans' groups worked together to restore it.
Victory Memorial Drive was designated as an historic district in 2005 by the Minnesota State Legislature. In 2011, the cities of Minneapolis and Robbinsdale along with Hennepin County and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board completed a renovation of the parkway and its monuments.
"It's very important to remember the 568 service people who died," Stenglein said. "These were people who were being forgotten. This will last another 100 years." The red granite of the old plaza was replaced with new Lake Superior Green granite monuments, walls and benches. Plaques were refurbished to make them readable. A wide pavement stripe was positioned to mark the shadow the flagpole casts at the "11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month" -- Armistice Day, when World War I ended. More than 40 new trees were planted, a mix of crabapples, spruces, maples, cedars and birches. Flower beds were expanded, lighting added and sidewalks built. Victory Drive itself was resurfaced with new asphalt. New gateway monuments mark each end of the parkway, featuring soldier silhouettes.
In 2005 and 2006, Historic plaques were added at several sites. The trail was also repaved with asphalt for better support for runners and bicyclists. New drinking fountains and benches were added. Gateway plantings were installed to highlight the area at Humboldt and 33rd Avenue. New signs were installed to align with the style used throughout the city for the Grand Rounds. Local signage was also enhanced.
The Victory Neighborhood Association launched a “Lincolns for Lincoln” campaign in May 2005 to assist with restoration the Lincoln statue. Loring School students solicited donations of “Lincoln currency” (pennies and five dollar bills) with a goal of raising $5,000. This was an historic nod to the Grand Army of the Republic’s original campaign to build the statue during which Loring School children were asked to contribute their pennies for the statue. In addition to the Loring School student efforts, donation jars were distributed throughout the neighborhood. They were present at neighborhood events such as the ViNA Garage Sale, Ice Cream Social and band concerts. Local businesses hosted jars in their establishments. Within a year, ViNA raised nearly $2000 to aid in the costs of renovating the Lincoln Statue.