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 building were added to the Garden. First a tool shed was moved onto a flat area in the Woodland Garden south of the bog and downhill from the South entrance. Then in 1915 a slightly larger wooded "cabin" with two rooms was built to Eloise's specifications and she noted its completion in her log on April 9 of that year. That building 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 at first unheated but later heated by a small wood stove and on cold days Martha Crone would report that water froze in the watering buckets, stove or no stove. It 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 clearly visible. 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

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

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