Garden Shelter Drawing

History of the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden
and The Friends of the Wild Flower Garden

Winter 1968/1969

E F Pabody winter photo
The Garden in late March 1933. "Path through the Tamaracks." Photo by E.F. Pabody

Ken Avery begins his 11th year as Gardener.

In the Friend’s Newsletter, The Fringed Gentian™ Vol 17 No.1 Jan 1969, Martha Crone wrote:

“How pleasant the isolating peace of snow and the beauty of trees and bush covered with sparkling ice. It is a country of whiteness accented by the dark evergreens. Many plants have already advanced toward a new year. Although all was quiet and so carefully protected, nature was at work and smiles again with the coming of spring.”

Funding by the Board of Park Commissioners for the proposed new shelter building was not going to be available for a number of years, thus it was in January 1969, that the idea of the Friends planning and constructing a new shelter themselves solidified. At that time the Board of Park Commissioners turned down the request of the Parks Superintendent, Mr. Robert Ruhe, to provide funds for the shelter improvement, at least not before 1976. It was then suggested by Mr. Ruhe and staff that the Friends produce a design of their own, submit it for approval and raise the money.(Presidents Report to Project Committee January 28, 1969).

Coming up with the funds was the big issue. Those same January 28 notes report that the Park Board was asked if they could provide interim financing out of their maintenance fund but that was turned down. Mrs. Faragher's notes dated Feb. 13, 1969 state that First National Bank was approached but a loan was not offered because the Friends did not own the underlying land, nor was Prudential Insurance Company interested. It had been suggested that Prudential might help as they themselves had built their office building on Wayzata Blvd. on Park Board Land. Thus, fund raising to the membership was the resort. It was also suggested at this meeting the drive to the Garden be made one-way. It would be accomplished in 1980.

Planning for the new Garden Shelter would now go forward, but with one slight hurdle: Friends President Catherine Faragher published this note in the winter newsletter:

“Mrs. Martha Crone, Editor, has been holding up the Fringed Gentian™ publication with the hope that she might include some concrete news of the proposed New Shelter Building for the garden. Mr. W. H. Tusler and his committee has been at work. He has been taking time to convince Superintendent of Parks, Mr. Robert Ruhe, that our desire for a small building is not based upon the fact that we are trying to limit the enjoyment of the garden to a small, select group of people. We merely want to preserve the lovely tranquility of that small oasis which is so unique within a teeming city. Watch for your next Fringed Gentian™ with more news of our project and our announcement of our Annual Meeting.”

Friends’ Board member Wilber Tusler reported to the Friends Board:

On March 25, Mr. Tusler and Mr. Thorn met with Superintendent Ruhe. They reviewed the proposed location of the building, the drawing of the proposed structure and with some suggestions from the Park Board members present, it met with approval. The Park Board agreed to do the site grading for the slab but the Friends contractor must excavate the footings. Many other small details were agreed upon but also including the agreement to change the name of the Garden by adding “and Bird Sanctuary” to the name as the Friends had suggested in 1968.

Full Tusler report and subsequent documents (pdf).

Spring 1969

Martha Crone
Martha Crone, Friends secretary, membership chair and editor of the newsletter. Former Garden Curator 1933-1958.

Martha Crone wrote in the spring issue of The Fringed Gentian™ Vol. 17 No 2 April 1969:

“Winter passes and the coldness has flown. Spring keeps the promise of a new beginning and fulfills our hopes of another garden. On every side are signs of life renewed. When the season is once launched it all goes too fast. It's hard to do justice to this spring that will never return. Spring is rushing past so swiftly. The glorious time of bloom for April and May merges so gently hardly to be noticed.”

Nothing was said in that issue about the planning for the Garden Shelter, but activity was high. On April 25th Mrs. Faragher send the following letter to the Friends membership.

Dear Friends, Your Project Committee, Mr. W. H. Tusler, chm., Mrs. Crone, Mssrs. Witt, Thorn, Odell, Avery and Mrs. Faragher presents to you the completed drawings for the proposed Martha Crone Shelter in the Eloise Butler Wild Flower Garden and Bird Sanctuary. The structure, with its roofed, bench-lined terrace and rough shake exterior stained to blend with the wilderness of the Garden, was planned by architect H. H. Livingston. It will be located just to the East of the present building (to be torn down) where the Shelter will look down upon the glen.

Mr. Robert Ruhe, Superintendent of Parks, Mr. Lewis Crutcher and Mr. Luke Krmpotich, engineer, are cooperating by helping with utilities, excavating and other things which will save us money AND we may build according to our own plan. We shall have an office for our Curator, a safe spot for our increasing library, a meeting place where we may show slides, brew a cup of tea or retreat from a storm.

We are hoping that you members who treasure this unique little oasis within our fast expanding city will dig into your pockets. We have paid for the plans. We have $4, 000. We must raise $12, 000 to start work this spring.

Your Board of Directors agrees that there is one person to whom we owe the preservation of the Eloise Butler Wild Flower and Bird Sanctuary. This will be the Martha E. Crone Shelter -- a true answer to Martha's dreams.

Mrs. Crone worked, for the sheer love of it, with Miss Butler for fifteen years. She became Curator in 1933, and until 1959 was practically sole alone in the Garden. Her experiences, with no water and no telephone, would fill a book. She went through a fire. She talked herself out of terrifying situations -- her only retreat being the little toolshed building with its flimsy screened door. There are hundreds of different wild flowers in the Garden and they are all Martha’s friends.

We can do this, do it right now and do it the way we want to, if we all get in there and pitch. There are only 200 of us; some will be unable to contribute, but those of you who can will be richly rewarded with the knowledge that you have helped to safeguard and keep for future generations the Eloise Butler Wild Flower and Bird Sanctuary. Your donations will be deductible from your income tax.

I am looking forward to seeing you at our annual meeting on Saturday, May 17, 1969 and am hoping that, by then, we’ll be able to announce that we have enough money to start construction.

Cordially and with deep appreciation to the committee that has spent so many hours on this project this past year, [sighed] Catherine S. Faragher

Floor plan of the shelter
The floor plan of the new Garden Shelter by H. H. Livingston. He was a well known architect in the Minneapolis and Golden Valley area. Friends records file.

Mrs. Faragher’s work on the Shelter was mentioned in an April 16, 1969 newspaper column in the Minneapolis Star (PDF copy). Mr. Tusler's wife, Margaret passed away on April 1st. A memorial to her was incorporated into the lintel over the door of the new shelter building.

The Annual Meeting of the Friends of the Wild Flower Garden was held in the Garden, on Saturday May 17th, 1969. Martha Crone wrote about it in the summer issue of The Fringed Gentian™.

“In spite of the cold weather the meeting was held outside of the little office building with a good attendance. The singing of the Cardinals and Rose-breasted Grosbeak added to the attempt to be cheerful. It was announced that the title of the garden had been changed to Eloise Butler Wild Flower and Bird Sanctuary. This has met with great enthusiasm. It was reported that at least 160,000 visitors had gone through the garden the past year and over 5000 brochures were given out.”

Directors elected were: Kenneth Avery, Martha Crone, Robert Dassett, Catherine Faragher, Leonard Odell, Elizabeth Reed, Leonard Ramberg, Mary Simmons, Alvin Witt, Harry Thorn (new), Wilber Tusler.
A number of the previous directors plus several new persons were approved as Honorary Directors. Founding director Russell H. Bennett left the board and became an honorary member. This list also included one of the other founding directors, Dorothy Binder, and one of the new names on the honorary list was Mrs. R. N. Beim, who was Moana Odell Beim, daughter of Friends Founder Clinton Odell and future president of the Friends.

Officers elected at the board meeting following the annual meeting were: Catherine Faragher, President; Alvin Witt, Vice-president; Martha Crone, Secretary-Treasurer.

No further donations were voted to be made to the Board of Park Commissioners. It was the suggestion of Superintendent Ruhe that the Friends accumulate the funds for the new shelter.

Summer 1969

Garden map circa 1912
Map indicating the features of the Garden circa 1912 with the locations of the old office and new shelter indicated. While this map is dated 1912 and shows the old office, that old office was not built until 1915 per Eloise Butler's Records.

ON June 5, the Friends board of directors met at the home of Mrs. Faragher. The honorary directors elected in May were approved; the name of the friends was changed to say ‘Wildflower’ as one word instead of ‘Wild Flower’ in order to match the way the Board of Park Commissioners had changed the Garden name. [Note - neither official documents at the Minnesota Secretary of State, nor those with the Internal Revenue Service, were ever changed and the spelling of the name reverted by 1982 to 'Wild Flower.'] Friends documents for some years after this use the word 'Wildflower' but then revert to Wild Flower as two words.

As of June 5, $11,560 was now available for construction of which $4,660 came from the Friends savings.

On July 10 another board meeting was held where it was noted that $13,536 was now available for construction. The meeting was held in the home of the shelter architect, Mr. Hiram Livingston, and the board was able to see the detailed drawings for the shelter. A special memorial book that would record all the donations and memorials for the Shelter was discussed.

In The Fringed Gentian™ Vol. 17 No.3 July 1969, Martha Crone wrote about Evening Grosbeaks and also:

“August is the time of early harvest and the time of Day Lilies, of Asters, Phlox and Daisies. Of Cattails in the swamp and Ironweed purpling and Vervain in full bloom. September, where fall and summer meet brings the waving plumes of Golden-rod in the meadow. The sun is hastening and earlier to bed and later to rise.”

President Catherine Faragher wrote a follow-up of her to her April 25th letter to the members:

“A reminder to our members who have not yet contributed to the Martha E. Crone Shelter Building fund. From Kenneth Avery, Curator, as of June 10, 1969, there have been seven buses of school children at one time in the parking lot of the Eloise Butler Wild Flower and Bird Sanctuary every day from May 1st until this past week which has averaged four or five a day. The children are conducted through the garden. Of the city buses, at least 35 per cent are our under-privileged group who might never know the wonder of Nature. How great when these youngsters can gather on the benches which will line our roofed terrace and enjoy the privilege of our library for an instruction period.

Because of $1.00 per hour rise in workman’s wages and an increase in the price of lumber, we now have to aim at $20,000 for the Martha E. Crone Shelter. Your response has been great. We are over the half way mark. $8,000 more and we can start construction.”

The Friends board met again on August 28 at Mrs. Faragher's home. The construction costs were reviewed and the construction fund was now $14,607 so it was decided that the slab for the building should be put in now. The Friends contractor, Joe Peterson Construction, was instructed to proceed. It would be the first week in October before it was done.

Autumn 1969

Martha Crone wrote in the fall issue of The Fringed Gentian™ (Vol. 17 No. 4 October 1969) “The sun filtering through the autumnal foliage, gives it the appearance of candle-light. The bright autumn colors fade and the woods are soon cold. Happy memories of summer are past. Leaves that shortly budded now are dropping making a carpet for our feet. This is the season of ripe fulfillment.”

That fall issue contained another note from President Cay Faragher about the shelter construction:

“The Martha E. Crone Shelter is under construction. With luck, the slab will go in this week to top the cement block-lined excavation and the $919.00 worth of Flexicore beams --this building should last forever. A trip to the Garden will make you feel proud and happy that you had a part in this great project. Our building fund now totals $17,805. We need $4,000 more in order to complete this fall while the Garden is dormant. We are proceeding as long as our money holds out. Put a circle around Thursday October 23, 1969. That morning at 10 o'clock Martha Crone will be hammering in a golden nail from the old building and Barbara Flanagan will be there with her photographers. I want you all to know that we never could have gone ahead, as we have, without your hard working, enthusiastic, single-minded officers. Mr. Tusler, Building, Chm., Mr. Witt, Building Fund, Mr. Thorn & Mr. Dassett. Mrs. Crone who has been kept spinning with so many new memberships to process and two large memorials funds to acknowledge.”

Martha Crone and Grandson.
Martha Crone with her great-grandson, Alan Wander, age 3, on October 23, 1969, at the building site of the new shelter. Photo as published in the Minneapolis Star, Oct. 24, 1969

By the October 9 Friends board meeting, the building fund was up to $17,805. The memorial book was being prepared by Otto Japs of Japs-Olson Printing; the final contract with Mr. Peterson was approved as were Mr. Livingston's charges.

Construction responsibilities were detailed as follows:

On October 23 Martha Crone hammered the “golden” nail and Barbara Flanagan was there from the Tribune with photographers. See photo at right. The old structure was moved to a spot near the back gate.

Barbara Flanagan wrote in her Friday column:

"And at the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden in Theodore Wirth Park Thursday, the Friends of the Garden dedicated a new $24,000 shelter house. Funds for it are being raised by the Friends. Anybody can contribute. When it's finished, the building will provide room for meetings. A terrace will give birdwatchers and wildflower fans a new vantage point in that lovely and leafy bower.

It's a top tourist site – and unique in our town. About 100,000 people, including schoolchildren, visited the garden this season. I'd say the Friends of the Garden deserve a big hand and any help we can give them." (pdf of full column)

On November 6th, the last Friends board meeting of the year was held at Mrs. Faragher’s home. A large gift of $3,500 had come in from Mr. H. J. Neils, former president of Flour City Ornamental Iron Co., and the Friends now had $23,260 for the shelter, enough for completion and it was moved that the contractor, Joe Peterson Construction be instructed to complete the building. The details of the plans discussed from 1968 onwards are contained in this document [PDF]

Robert Dassett, who recorded the minutes of the Nov. 6th meeting ended the text with this: "The Board members present then did do justice to a lunch modestly described by our president and hostess, Cay Faragher, as just a bite, but which indeed did prove more than ample to stay the beast within us."

Tusler Memorial
The lintel over the door to the Martha Crone Visitor's Shelter is engraved in memory of Margaret Tusler who passed away on April 1, 1969. It was installed at the time of construction of the shelter. Photo G D Bebeau

Forty-four new members were added this year. It was in 1969 that Elizabeth Schutt became a member. She was the daughter of Mendon and Clarissa (Clara) Schutt. Clara was a friend of Eloise Butler. Elizabeth remained a member until her death in 1999. She was one of the first Shelter volunteers and the large table in the Shelter was a gift to the Friends in honor of her mother. When Elizabeth died she left an annual bequest to the Friends. (Details)

Many memorials were received including a number in memory of Mrs. Tusler, who passed away on April 1st, 1969, and the wife of Hiram Livingston, the shelter architect, who passed away in August. The memorial in the Garden for Mrs. Tusler appears as that lintel over the shelter door.

Photo top of page: Architectural drawing of the new Garden Shelter - 1968/69

To History of: Previous Year ----------- Subsequent Year

Year chart - all years

Garden History Archive

Friends History Archive

Printable PDF file of this page.

Links to related pages:
- Abbreviated Life of Eloise Butler

- Martha Crone - 2nd Garden Curator

- Ken Avery - 3rd Curator and Gardener

- Cary George - 4th Gardener

- Our Native Plant Reserve - Short document on the origins of the Garden.

- Eloise Butler's writings, a selection of essays written by Eloise Butler on the early Garden years.

- Geography of the Garden- an illustrated tour


Meeting Minutes and correspondence of Friends of the Wild Flower Garden.

Archive of the Friends Newsletter The Fringed Gentian™
Vol. 17, # 1, January 1969, Martha Crone, Editor

Vol. 17, # 2, April 1969, Martha Crone, Editor

Vol. 17, # 3, July, 1969, Martha Crone, Editor

Vol. 17, # 4, October, 1969, Martha Crone, Editor

Historical Climatology of Minneapolis-St. Paul Area by Charles Fisk.

Friends Home Page

©2019 Friends of the Wild Flower Garden, Inc. Photos are as credited and are used with permission for educational purposes, for which the Friends thank them and the organization providing the photos. Text and research by Gary Bebeau. "" - 111920