Emma Cranmer

Frances Cranmer Greenman

Hennepin History Museum has an extensive portrait collection. In some cases, it’s the subject who has the most fascinating story, other times it’s the artist, and in some cases, it’s both. In this case – a drawing of Emma Cranmer, done by Frances Cranmer Greenman in 1933- the stories of both artist and subject are woven together. For in this example, artist Frances Cranmer Greenman put charcoal to board to capture the likeness of her own mother, Emma Cranmer.

Frances Cranmer Greenman was born in Aberdeen, South Dakota in 1890, the daughter of  prominent South Dakota suffragette Emma Cranmer. Cranmer, an active and outspoken participant in the suffrage movement at both the national and local levels, traveled the nation to speak at public forums on behalf of women’s rights. Perhaps inspired by her mother’s travels, Frances Cranmer Greenman left home at the age of 15 to study art first in Wisconsin, and a year later, at age 16, at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington D.C. – a world away from her log cabin home in South Dakota.

After several years studying in Washington, Greenman returned to her native Midwest, where she settled down to build a career in Minneapolis. In 1915, she won a coveted award for a series of portraits exhibited at the Minnesota State Fair, and by the 1920s she had earned the reputation as one of the Twin Cities’ leading portrait artists. She later went on to teach at the Minneapolis School of Art, and to write an arts column for the Minneapolis Sunday Tribune.

The portrait of Emma Cranmer can currently be seen in Portraits of the Past: Highlights from the Hennepin History Museum Collection, on exhibit through January 8, 2017.

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Sharpen those Mower Blades

It’s summer… and if you have a lawn in Hennepin County, you’ve probably spent plenty of time over the past month or two keeping the grass in check. In honor of this common summer task we’ve pulled out this small bag from the collection. Now empty, it once held equipment used to sharpen lawn mower blades.

During the 1930s, 1940s, and into the 1950s the Foley Manufacturing Company of Minneapolis placed advertisements in national magazines promoting their “Electrakeen” as an ideal side business. “This is the way to make money!” their writers urged in 1930, “This is what hundreds of men are saying about the Foley Elecktrakeen Lawn Mower Sharpener business they have started.”

The Foley company was headquartered in the Foley Building, 11 Main Street NE.Besides lawn mower sharpeners they also produced food mills, flour sifters, juicers, and other small household tools and appliances. The company is still around, although no longer at that location, and after a merger is now known as Foley Belsaw. They still specialize in making sharpening tools.

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5 Facts: Carolyn McKnight Christian

“”Mrs. George Chase Christian is notable among the women of Minneapolis for the wide scope and variety of her interests, nearly all of which are dedicated to the welfare of the community and its people. Not that Mrs. Christian lacks hobbies and recreation; she is fond of reading and of travel, for example, and enjoys society, but regards it as only one item and not the most important in her scheme of life.”

Hennepin History magazine, July 1957

Our beautiful home has been a museum since 1958, but prior to that it was the residence of local philanthropist Carolyn McKnight Christian. We’ll be sharing more about the Christian family and their many contributions to Hennepin County life during the coming months. To start things off, however, we’d like to share five fun facts about Mrs. Christian:

  1. She had a large golden retriever named Dennis; he was trained to put his paws on her shoulders and “dance” around the dining room and the living room! (How appropriate that the dining room in question is now a gallery home to Hennepin County Wags its Tail: 150 Years of People and their Pets, an exhibition up through September 18; we hope Dennis would approve!)
  2. A supporter of the arts and a patron of our neighbor, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Mrs. Christian was the first president of the Friends of the Institute.
  3. While she made her home at 2303 Third Avenue her primary residence for 36 years, Mrs. Christian was no stranger to moving: she moved 11 times as a child, as her father’s business took them across the Midwest and to the West Coast, before settling down in Minnesota.
  4. She loved music, and often hosted concerts in her home. The stage in Hennepin History Museum’s fireplace room is original to the house, and the room designed with musical performances in mind.
  5. While Mrs. Christian had no children of her own, she had seven nieces and nephews, as well as cared for three American orphaned children she and her husband met in Paris. Later in her life, she was known to her extended family as “Nana,” and took on the role as family matriarch.

There’s far more to say about Carolyn Christian, her life, and especially about her tremendous impact on our community, and we look forward to sharing these stories in coming months.

Photo: Carolyn McKnight Christian, wedding picture, April 1897

Buzza April Showers

From The Art of Entertaining by Jean Waldon, published by the Buzza Company of Minneapolis in 1924:

An “April Shower” for a Bride-t0-Be

Springtime is a glorious time in which to entertain for a Bride-t0-be, and April is noted for its “showers.” Therefore, let us combine a luncheon, a few tulips, a bit o’Bridge, twelve girl friends of the bride, and a parasol all in one, and call it a real shower!

If the Hostess asked ten girls to share the expense with her, they might easily “chip in” and buy a really beautifully monogrammed parasol for the guest of honor, without any one person spending too much  money. Delegate to one girl the task of obtaining a sample of the bride’s traveling suit, and match as nearly as possible in a silk parasol.

The Hostess may arrange her luncheon table in the following manner. A centerpiece of dainty pink tulips placed in a glass basket, the handle of which is tied a crisp tulle bow of robin’s-egg blue, is unusual and decorative.

Place-cards are tiny parasols, containing a rhyming couplet underneath the fold, with a different message for each of the twelve girls present.

After the luncheon (which should be very simple), the guests are asked to find their Bridge tallies by searching the ouse.

Finally, someone discovers them, all hanging in groups of two, to the spokes of the open gift parasol. Each guest is then asked to detach the colorful little tally bearing her name and the two girls finding their tallies together from the same “spoke” are partners.

The tally belonging to the Hostess hangs alone, and that belongs to the honor guest is not to be found! Instead it is attached to the handle of the parasol, and the hostess then graciously presents the gift to its rightful owner on behalf of her friends. Upon the back of the tally belonging to the Bride-to-be, may be written the following verse, to which are signed all the names of the girls present:

After every little April shower

The skies are a brighter blue,

So may a shower of Happiness

Come every hour – to YOU!

***

Want to learn more about the Buzza Company and its work? Greetings, an exhibition chronicling the company’s history and its work, is showing at Hennepin History Museum through July 3, 2016.

 

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Photo of the Week: Street Scene, c. 1925

This street scene, photographed circa 1925, was taken on 6th Street looking towards Nicollet Avenue (now Nicollet Mall) in downtown Minneapolis. Visible at the intersection is the corner of the Donaldson’s Department Store’s famous Glass Block building.

One of the things that struck our eye are the modes of transportation visible in this photograph. We have a new exhibition opening at Hennepin History Museum this week: the Cycling Museum of Minnesota has curated the ever-fascinating High Wheels! exhibition looking at biking in 19th century Minneapolis. This photograph post-dates the high wheels, but if you look closely you’ll see there’s foot, car, streetcar, and yes, bicycle traffic.

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A Dog’s Life in Minneapolis, 1896

This 1896 certificate, documenting the legal licensing of a black and white dog named Sport, gives us a glimpse into the lives of Hennepin County dogs 120 years ago.

Highlights from the City’s ordinance:

  • All “dog or animal of the dog kind” required a license; male dogs cost the owner $1 per year, female dogs $3.
  • The City Clerk was to provide owners with a metal dog tag, with costs to be capped at five cents each per tag.
  • The City Clerk transferred money each month to the Police Department Relief Association; they in turn used the funds to operate the city pound.
  • The mayor had the right, following three days of public notice, to mandate that all dogs running at large in the city be muzzled.

When an unfortunate dog did end up at the pound, they had a grace period of at least three days, and pound staff were to be kept with “kind treatment and sufficient food and water for their comfort.”

To learn more about the history of pets in Hennepin County, please visit Hennepin County Wags its Tail: 150 Years of People and their Pets, an exhibition opening March 26.

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Photo of the Week: Elmo Apartments, Hopkins

Hopkins, like the rest of the Twin Cities, changed dramatically in the decade following the conclusion of World War II. In addition to the many new single family homes built in this period, the city’s first rental apartments were constructed. The Elmo Park Apartments opened their doors in 1950. Located on the north side of Highway 7, these apartments still stand today, now known as Brentwood Park Townhomes.

Notice the boy on the bicycle on the right, and the tricycles on the sidewalk on the left: signs of the post-war baby boom.