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$150,000 historic project turns Lake Street into a walk-able museum

The idea for the Museum in the Streets: Lake Street project came to Joyce Wisdom, who heads the Lake Street Council, when she was on a trip to Connecticut a couple of years ago.

Taking a self-guided tour down certain streets in one town, she learned all kinds of interesting tidbits about the area’s history, according to Cara Letofsky, who is a project volunteer.

A number of plaques placed here and there along the street told of the town's development through words and pictures.

Wisdom contacted the Museum in the Streets company about the possibility of bringing the same kind of displays to Lake Street in Minneapolis.

It's something that piqued the interest of many other community members, and the council got to work on the project, Letofsky says.

So far, the council has raised about one-third of the $150,000 needed for the project, which will include 20 plaques along Lake Street.

Meanwhile, a dozen volunteers are in the process of researching sites to be highlighted on the tour. “We’re looking for sites that have a good story and are good for illustrations or photos,” she says.  

In the process, Letofsky is learning about such bygone places as the 1905 Wonderland Amusement Park, Minneapolis Harvester Works--a well-known farm equipment company--and the Nicollet Ballpark, where the Minneapolis Millers played from 1896 to 1955.

“We came across a photo of four members of the baseball team in new cars that were bought from a dealer on Lake Street,” she says.  

Other venerable places, such as Ingebretsen’s Scandinavian gift shop and the 1928-built Midtown Exchange building, are still around.

To help passersby make the connections, a brochure will outline the walking tours. “The series of panels that makes up each tour will invite people to discover Lake Street’s unique story at their own pace, over the course of an afternoon or on return visits.”  

Letofsky says that the group is interested in the project as a way to “build the vitality of Lake Street and its business community,” adding, “It’s an economic development tool.”  

The council plans to mount the displays next spring.

Source: Cara Letofsky, spokesperson for Museum in the Streets: Lake Street
Writer: Anna Pratt
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