Saturday September 30th 2023

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2615 Park Avenue: Celebrating 75 Years of Cooperative Living

2615 Park Avenue in the 1950s / Photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

By Becky Gazca, Walt Weaver, and Lou Tiffany Welter

How many of you have driven by this building on the corner of Park Avenue and 26th Street and wondered what it was? In front of the American Swedish Institute, “2615 Park” was built in 1929-1930 filling an empty spot in the neighborhood landscape. It was the dream of our founders and builders, Carl Anderson, Gustav Nelson, Andrew Rydell and Gustav Rydell, to build the most luxurious and elegant apartment building in this neighborhood.

“Financing for the construction of 2615 was obtained by the financial skin of our teeth in 1929. The architect most often credited for creating the plans was Martin G. Lindquist. The construction firm was the Anderson-Nelson Company, owned by Carl Anton “C.A.” Anderson and Gustav “Gus” Nelson, both recent Swedish immigrants. Originally designed to be ten stories high, plans were scaled back to six stories thanks to The Great Depression. 2615 was to be a “residents” hotel but with all of the amenities of a typical “transient” hotel. Owned by a group of businessmen, it was managed by the Anderson-Nelson Company with C.A.’s son, Lars, acting as garage attendant, office manager, maintenance man, switchboard operator, boiler tender, and grounds keeper for its first twelve years. When did that man sleep?

On August 20, 1947, the Star Journal announced: “First steps to turn 2615 Park Avenue, a million-dollar apartment building, into a co-operative with tenants purchasing their own apartments were underway today. ”Soon the era of chauffeurs, maids, cooks and laundresses became a part of 2615 lore. Loretta’s Tea Room served its final Sunday brunch more than twenty-five years ago. We know that some people with illustrious names at one time made their homes here: Ted Mann; Charlie Johnson of sports fame; popular newspaper columnist Bob Murphy; conductor Eugene Ormandy; teacher, mentor and peace activist, Marv Davidov and others. But, in 1935, did Amelia Earhart really live in unit 612? Rumors abounded. We probably can never be certain.” For much greater detail on the history of 2615, borrow a copy of the book, Biography of A Building – The Personalities of 2615 Park Avenue. By Mary Jo Thorsheim Ph.D.

We believe that we are the oldest housing co-operative in Minnesota, celebrating 75 years this year! Governed by a Board of Directors, with over 100 resident shareholders, along with our property manager and garage staff, we work hard to preserve our piece of history. It was the insight of our founders who built this lasting structure, that we are charged with the duty to protect, preserve and enhance their legacy. The existence of our magnificent home after all these years, through changes in the city around us is proof enough to an even brighter future.

With permission of Mary Jo Thorsheim Ph.D. to use excerpts from her book Biography of A Building – The Personalities of 2615 Park Avenue available to checkout from the Hennepin County Public Library.

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