Monthly Archives: June 2016

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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