The Calhoun Beach Club Then and Now

Back in 1912, four days after the Minneapolis Park Board officially dedicated a new beach and bath house on the north side of Lake Calhoun, Charles M. Loring appeared at a meeting of the Board of Park Commissioners to suggest the acquisition of a parcel of land on the other side of Lake Street, just to the East of Dean Parkway. Loring, who was appointed as the commission’s first president, had resigned 22 years earlier because a property that he held a financial interest in was under park board consideration. The reason Loring showed up that day was to voice his concern regarding the proliferation of refreshment stands near the parks. Loring urged the board to buy up the land he imagined these businesses would spring up on. The park board took the matter under consideration.

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Theodore Wirth echoed Loring’s concerns in the Park Boards annual report and encouraged the board to buy the lots east of Dean Parkway between Lake Street and the railroad tracks. Five years slipped away before the Park Board took another look at the land. Loring’s fears that the land would play host to an ugly assortment of commercial establishments had not come to pass and they made no move to acquire it. Ten years later plans for the property began to took shape. A residential building, fully equipped with entertainment and recreation facilities was proposed. Wirth recommended that the park board consent to a building permit as long as the new structure was set back at least 15 feet from park property along Dean Parkway. Construction of the building began in 1927, but the Great Depression and World War II delayed the buildings completion.

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Various uses were found for the half finished building over the years. On October 30th, 1930, The operator of the Calhoun Beach Club garage, was accused of being part of a gang that imported more than $1,000,000 worth of Canadian liquor annually. Two other men were arrested when they brought truck loads of liquor to the garage. The Calhoun Beach Club finally opened in 1946. One of the first events held at the facility was a tribute dinner for Theodore Wirth. A year later the Calhoun Beach Club and the Calhoun Beach Club Operating Company filed for bankruptcy. The club listed debts of $51,117.17 and assets of $11,240.03. Operating debts were $47,157.37 and assets of 18,962.56. Included among the unpaid debts were approximately $14,000 owed to the state and federal governments for withholding taxes and unemployment insurance. In 1954 the Calhoun Beach Club became a hotel. The upper floors were converted into fashionable apartments and the club was and was rented out for luncheons, banquets, proms, parties, and wedding receptions. In the latter part of the decade, WTCN moved built radio and TV studios on the 2nd and 3rd floors. Lunch with Casey and Verne Gagne’s All Star Wrestling were aired live from the Calhoun Beach Club.

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In 1963, the building became a senior housing facility and the name was changed to Calhoun Beach Manor. In 1977, the handball, squash courts and swimming pool revamped. Steam rooms, saunas, sunrooms, a jogging track and tennis courts were installed the same year. The lobby was remodeled in an Art Deco style and the Calhoun Beach Club reopened as a sports club. In the 80s, the club added the latest exercise equipment, volleyball and basketball courts and an aerobics studio. 1n 1988 a 24-story residential tower was proposed to complement the original Calhoun Beach Club building. This project became the focus of neighborhood opposition before it was rejected by the Minneapolis Planning Commission. In 1997 KKE architects designed and built a 12-story, high-rise addition. The original building, one the oldest sky scratchers outside of downtown Minneapolis, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 23, 2003.

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