logoThe Friends of the Wild Flower Garden

Then and Now at Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden

The Old Cabin Office and the Newer Visitors Shelter - 8 decades apart

Between 1912 and 1915 several small buildings were added to the Garden. First an old tool shed was moved into the Woodland Garden. Then in 1915 a larger wood "cabin" was built to Eloise's specifications. She noted its completion in her log on April 9 of that year. The location was uphill and south of the wetland and downhill from the south entrance in a spot she called “the plateau”. The building was divided into two sections, one part serving as a tool room and the other served as office, visitor center, shelter and all other purposes until 1970 when the new shelter shown below was completed and dedicated to Martha Crone. The old building was then moved to the back gate of the Garden where it remained for a few years [per Ken Avery's notes, April 1973, The Fringed Gentian™]. The little building was known as "the little cabin" and as the "garden office". It was for many years unheated but in the late 1940s a small wood stove was added and on cold days Martha Crone would report that water froze in the watering buckets, stove or no stove. Prior to the wood stove, Martha Crone brought a portable kerosene stove from home and the Park Board furnished the kerosene. The building served Eloise Butler, Martha Crone and Ken Avery for a total of 58 years. These photos span the time from 1935 to 2015.

On June 10, 1951 The Minneapolis Tribune published an article on Martha Crone titled “City Wild Flower Gardener Rescues Plants From Bulldozers.” (PDF). Here's an interesting quote about the garden office:

“A tiny house stands in the center of the woods. In this ‘once upon a time’ atmosphere children might well expect the house to have a candy roof and be surrounded by gingerbread people. Actually it is not fairy-tale hut, but one of the smallest office buildings in town - - possibly the only one without electricity or a telephone.”

Photo Below - Old Garden Office - front view, SE side, 1935. Note: The settees the gentlemen on the left are sitting on were replaced in 1960 by a pair of limestone benches donated by Moana Odell Beim in honor of her father, Clinton Odell. The large stone at the right bears the memorial tablet to Eloise Butler.(See Garden Memorials for details.)

1935 view of office

The photo below was taken on Feb. 29, 1936 (leap year day).

Garden Office 1936

Photo Below - Old Garden Office - Front view, SE side, June 24, 1948

1948 Garden Office

Photo Below: The little cabin in February 1956. The stovepipe for the small stove added in the late 1940s is clearly visible on the roof. The sign by the front door changed often over the years. This one reads "Office of Curator - Wild Flower Garden". Earlier the sign had read "...Wild Botanic Garden."

Garden Office 1956

Below: Two old photos of the interior of the old Garden office. Photos - Friends of the Wild Flower Garden.

old office interior old office interior

Photo below: The current Garden Office and Visitors Shelter, built by the Friends of the Wild Flower Garden and given to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board in 1970 with a dedication to Martha Crone. Photo G D Bebeau.

Martha Crone Shelter

Below: An interior view of the Martha Crone Visitors Shelter.

Inside the shelter

For a complete history of the creation of the Martha Crone Visitors Shelter see this article: "The Old Office Replaced."