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Kenwood Neighborhood

Kenwood Neighborhood

Kenwood is a neighborhood within the Calhoun-Isles community in Minneapolis along Lake of the Isles. The neighborhood is one of the most affluent in the city along with the nearby Lowry Hill neighborhood. The Kenwood neighborhood’s most notable feature is the many historic mansions along the parkways overlooking the lake and the downtown skyline.

Its boundaries are Cedar Lake Parkway to the west, Kenwood Parkway to the north, West Lake of the Isles Parkway to the east, and Kenilworth Place to the south.

Notable residents

  • Joe Roche, an Iraq War Veteran and political commentator grew up in Kenwood.
  • Kenwood’s most famous fictional resident was Mary Richards, played by Mary Tyler Moore, who resided at fictional “119 North Weatherly” and used exterior shots of the home located at 2104 Kenwood Parkway from 1970 to 1975 during the first five seasons of The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Walter Mondale, Vice President of the United States, was a long time resident near Fremont Avenue.

Kenwood was the name of an addition platted just outside the Minneapolis city limits around 1887. At that time, a rail line ran along the west side of the neighborhood near the shoreline of Cedar Lake. A depot and a hotel were located at what is now West 22nd Street where it ends at Cedar Lake.

Lake of the Isles and its shoreline were acquired by the City of Minneapolis in 1886. The lake became part of the city’s famed park system and “Chain of Lakes”, along with Cedar Lake to the west and Lakes Calhoun and Harriet to the south. Lake of the Isles originally was a very large, mosquito-infested swamp, and in 1899, the city started the dredging that created the charming lake with its unusual islands, extensive shoreline, and surrounding picturesque parkland.

A newspaper ad of the late 1880’s announced the Kenwood Addition as “high, sightly and attractive” and as the “choicest place for elegant residences.” Lots were platted, streets were graded, city water pipes were laid, and city streetcar lines were planned. Soon a number of large residences were built and over the next few decades the neighborhood filled with homes built in various styles then popular.

Kenwood has several landmarks In addition to Lake of the Isles and Cedar Lake. These include the 1910 brick water tower on Kenwood Parkway; the Peavey Fountain (originally built to water horses) at the intersection of W. Lake of the Isles Parkway and Kenwood Parkway; the “Mary Tyler Moore House” of television programming fame at the SW corner of Kenwood Parkway and W. 21st Street; and three grand, adjoining homes on the 2200 block of W. Lake of the Isles Parkway, built by Cream of Wheat founder Emory Mapes for himself and family members. Other landmarks are Kenwood’s small commercially zoned area at Penn Ave. S. and W. 21st Street; Kenwood Elementary School and Park/Recreation Center at Penn Ave. S. and W. Franklin Ave; Lake of the Isles Lutheran Church on W. Lake of the Isles Parkway at W. 21st St; and the very large natural green space amenity, Kenwood Park.

Kenwood Park occupies most of the northern portion of the neighborhood. Although the park includes baseball and soccer fields, tennis courts, and a playground, most of the park has been reserved as open, natural space. According to the Minneapolis Park Board website, the land for Kenwood Park was purchased in 1907, and low land in the park was filled with material dredged from Lake of the Isles in 1908. Tennis courts and sidewalks were installed between 1911 and 1913. During the 1920’s, neighborhood residents opposed plans for further development of the park, fearing the destruction of the park’s natural features. Neighborhood opposition caused the development plans to be scaled back significantly.

Kenwood includes about 540 residential structures, most of which are single-family houses dating from the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Many larger homes were divided into rooming houses and duplexes during the mid-1900’s, but in the 1960’s and 1970’s most of these homes were rehabilitated and converted back to single-family use. Kenwood’s popularity grew in the 1980’s and 1990’s as residents and buyers recognized the increasing value of the neighborhood’s beautiful homes and Kenwood’s proximity to downtown, Uptown, and the Minneapolis park and lake system.

The neighborhood boundaries are Kenwood Parkway to the north, Lake of the Isles to the south, Lake of the Isles and South Logan Avenue to the east, and Cedar Lake to the west.

Built as a streetcar suburb near the end of the 19th century, Kenwood’s park-like setting is reinforced by a canopy of stately trees, three nearby lakes, a park encompassing a third of the neighborhood’s 95 acres, sidewalks, and a curvilinear street pattern. The sloping terrain offers superb views of the surrounding water and downtown Minneapolis skyline roughly two miles to the northeast. Kenwood’s elevation, well above the low, mosquito-infested marshes and wetlands that composed Lake of the Isles original shoreline, was key to the area’s early settlement. Minimum house construction costs were $3,000, and some — like an 1892 Queen Anne at the corner of West 21st Street and Kenwood Parkway — cost five times that amount.

Kenwood Parkway, a central link in the city’s boulevard system designed by H.W.S. Cleveland, was a popular route to the lakes from downtown. A bike path, distinct from the carriage paths, was added in 1895. It wasn’t until 1957, however, that the parkway was paved and curbs and gutters installed. The parkway feeds into Lake of the Isles Parkway, which is part of the Grand Rounds, a National Scenic Byway and a 2009 American Planning Association Great Public Space.

Probably the most familiar house on Kenwood Parkway s is the old Victorian that was featured in the opening of the 1970s sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Like the house on the show, this one had been divided into apartments, which was not unusual in Kenwood during the 1960s and 1970s. Since then the house, like most others in the neighborhood, has been reconfigured as a single-family residence. Roughly 85 percent of Kenwood’s 540 homes are owner occupied.

Next to Lake of the Isles, the neighborhood’s single largest feature is the 33-acre Kenwood Park. Acquired in 1907 for $162,000, the park remains mostly in its natural state. Tennis courts were added in 1913 and upgraded with private funds in 2007. A playground, now being renovated, was installed across from Kenwood Elementary School in 1996. That same year, residents unsuccessfully fought the siting of antennas on the Kenwood Water Tower, a designated city landmark. That landmark status followed an unsuccessful 1979 attempt to convert the tower, unused since 1954, into condominiums.

The latest issues to draw neighborhood scrutiny involves expansion of Metro Transit’s light rail system to include the Southwest Transitway connecting downtown Minneapolis with Eden Prairie. The corridor under consideration includes a light rail station next to Kenwood Park. The Kenwood Isles Area Association (KIAA) is working with city planners to mitigate potential impacts — light and noise pollution, vibration, increased vehicular traffic, reduction in parkland and trails, and limited pedestrian access to East Cedar Beach — and ensure that the station’s design is compatible with the neighborhood’s park-like setting. Construction is proposed to begin in 2015 with the line opening in 2018.


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