Elliot Park’s Three Famous Residents

 

 

Elliot Park was once home to Minnesota’s famous figures who made their mark in the world – through humor, business, and baking. The homes of Elliot Park’s three famous residents are visual landmarks in the neighborhood and foster a sense of identity within the community.

 

Elliot Park Skyline. Photo: Courtesy of EPNI
Elliot Park Skyline. Photo: Courtesy of EPNI

 

Last fall, seniors of Augustana Apartments took a tour of Elliot Park organized by the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota. Learn about the history of Elliot Park’s famous residents, and see if you recognize any of these landmarks the next time you visit the neighborhood!

 

Charles Munroe Schulz (1922–2000)

919 Chicago Avenue South

 

Although Charles Schulz is often associated with St. Paul, the celebrated author of the Peanuts comic strip was actually born in Elliot Park, Minneapolis. The Schulz family lived in a brownstone apartment at 919 Chicago Avenue South from 1922 to 1927 until they moved to Highland Park in St. Paul where young Schulz attended Central High School.

 

Augustana senior visit the building that was the birthplace of Charles Schultz, now a student apartment owned by North Central University
Augustana senior visit the building that was the birthplace of Charles Schultz, now a student apartment owned by North Central University

 

Charles Schulz, nicknamed “Sparky” after a cartoon character, had a lifelong interest in comic illustration. In 1937, teenage Schulz submitted a drawing of his family dog Spike to Ripley Believe it or Not newspaper. Although one of his drawings was rejected from the high school year book, the rejection did not deter the young artist. After graduating, Schulz studied cartooning with Federal Schools (now Art Instruction Schools, Inc.) until 1943 when he was drafted into the army in World War II. Schulz’s first regular cartoons called, Li’l Folks appeared in the St. Paul Pioneer Press in 1947, and in 1950 Schulz published the beloved Peanuts comic strip which became nationally renowned, appearing in more than two thousand newspapers worldwide.

Today, Schulz is remembered for the characters he brought to life through his Peanuts comic strip. We experience life’s rejections, frustrations, and deep philosophical questions with Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucie, Sally and Linus – all with a sense of humor.

 

“Betty Crocker” (William G. Crocker, 1876–1922)

1628 Elliot Ave South

 

The famous baker and poster girl for General Mills, Betty Crocker can be traced to Elliot Park. But in the early 1920s when Betty got her start, you would not have seen her eating out at the Band Box diner. In fact, Betty Crocker was not a real person, but a personality invented by the Crosby Milling Company, who was named after a Minneapolis milling business and resident of Elliot Park, William G. Crocker.

 

The character was invented as the friendly face of the Crosby Milling Company which would later become the Minnesota giant, General Mills. The all-male advertising team often turn to their female House Services staff for their authority in the kitchen, believing their customers would prefer a woman’s take on baking issues. The name “Betty” was chosen because the name sounded wholesome and unassuming.

 

Betty got her last name “Crocker” from the businessman and philanthropist, William G. Crocker. Crocker was born in Elliot Park at 1628 Elliot Ave South, now called Leichty Hall. He was the son of a milling pioneer, George W. Crocker, and followed his father into the milling industry. In 1910, Crocker was elected to the directorate of the Crosby Milling Company, and in 1919, he was elected secretary of the business. Not only was Crocker’s milling expertise known throughout the Midwest, he was also remembered as a dedicated philanthropist. The Crosby Milling Company honored Crocker by using his namesake for the helpful and talented Betty Crocker.

 

Crocker lived at Leichty Hall in Elliot Park. The building is now owned by North Central University and houses their Business Department
Crocker lived at Leichty Hall in Elliot Park. The building is now owned by North Central University and houses their Business Department

 

J. Paul Getty (1882-1976)

624 South 9th Street

 

You may have heard of the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. The museum was named after Minneapolis-born J. Paul Getty, an oil baron, art collector, and at one time, one of the richest private citizens in the United States.

 

Getty followed his father into the oil business. From the age of sixteen, he spent his summers working in the Oklahoma oil fields. In 1916, Getty discovered his first producing oil well, and struck it rich, becoming a millionaire at age twenty-three. In 1949, Getty struck a deal with Ibn Saud, the king of Saudi Arabia, and purchased a barren tract lying between Saudi Arabia and Kuwait where oil had been never discovered. After four years and millions spent, he hit an enormous amount of oil and became a billionaire.

 

Despite his wealth, J. Paul Getty was characterized as a miser. In 1957, Fortune magazine declared J. Paul Getty as the world’s richest private citizen, but no one would have guessed it judging by his crumpled suits and thread-bare sweaters. The billionaire was famous for installing payphones for his guests to use on his 700 acre estate outside London.

 

However, when it came to art, Getty spared no expense. He was passionate about collecting art, and even wrote a book on the topic called, The Joys of Collecting in 1965. The art collection he amassed during his lifetime, forming the basis for the Getty Museum’s collection in California. He continued to support the art world after his death, bequeathing the bulk of his fortune to the trustees of the J. Paul Getty Museum. Today, the Getty Trust has become a major philanthropic foundation, dedicated to collecting, researching, and exhibiting art.

 

J. Paul Getty once lived in this Elliot Park apartment building, now Aeon. Photo: Courtesy of Aeon
J. Paul Getty once lived in this Elliot Park apartment building, now Aeon. Photo: Courtesy of Aeon

 

  • Alyssa Gregory, Community Engagement Intern