Amateur historian Carrie Hatler recommends checking out these sites in the metro area:

East metro

Merriam’s Overlook Ruins: “The Cass Gilbert Memorial Park, across from the State Capitol, includes some of the stonework from a 19th-century overlook near the site of William Merriam’s mansion. It takes a little searching in a stand of trees, but ruins of the wall of the overlook and staircase are visible on the hillside in the early spring and late fall.”

Ruth Munson: “A very pretty 30-year-old waitress at the Union Depot Café, her badly burned body was found after a 1937 fire at the Aberdeen Hotel, where Boyd Park is today. Despite an extensive investigation, her killer was never found. I’ve always liked murder mysteries and I thought, ‘Oh that poor woman, still single and trying to make her way and something like that happened’ and it’s just something you wouldn’t expect from the Aberdeen Hotel.”

Selby Avenue Streetcar Tunnel: “I’ve always liked streetcars, but there are not a whole lot of places where you can see where they went. One of them is near the intersection of College Avenue and Old Kellogg Boulevard: the lower entrance to a streetcar tunnel, with tracks appearing from a thick concrete wall that blocks anyone from going inside. The upper portion of the tunnel on Selby Avenue near Nina Street has been paved over.”


West metro

Anoka State Hospital: “I went when I was young, at night, and it was kind of an eerie, creepy place. It’s Minnesota’s most intact representation of a cottage-plan asylum, the first in the state to house only individuals who were deemed curable; they tried not to use restraints, and the doors weren’t locked. The cottages are arranged in a semicircle to give the grounds a peaceful, village-like feel, and they had a farm so it was like its own little sustainable city.”

Beltrami Park: “This northeast Minneapolis park was the site of Maple Hill Cemetery, a final resting place for pioneers and Civil War soldiers. Many graves were relocated to either Lakewood or Hillside cemetery, but a lot of the unmarked graves were never moved. A plaque honors those who were buried in those unmarked graves. It’s kind of a potter’s field, bodies still there and nowadays it’s a playground, which I thought was weird.”



Elizabeth C. Quinlan: “In an age before women had the right to vote, Elizabeth C. Quinlan was a natural entrepreneur. She had an eighth-grade education, but her fashion instincts made her one of the richest women in the Twin Cities. But it was her warm and witty personality that made her the queen of Minneapolis. She built a high-end department store, and the building still stands at 901 Nicollet Mall, with her name in the brickwork.”