University Grove map

University Grove:

A University of Minnesota Neighborhood

by Rita Hanle

An article appearing in the The New York Times on Thursday, January 5, 1989, describes University Grove as “St. Paul’s Architectural Time Capsule.” It is a quiet wooded corner next to the University of Minnesota campus showcasing a midwestern residential architecture. Curved streets and majestic oaks define the Grove in its secluded but convenient location. A national pioneer of urban planning at the time, the firm of Morel and Nichols was historically significant as the original designer of the community in 1928 and 1929. The university retains the title to the 103 individual lots and leases them to homeowners at rates that ranged from $75 to $200 a year. Only a few other universities, including Stanford and Princeton, have pursued this experiment of a university/community connection.

The land for University Grove was first set aside in 1928 by the university regents, who felt this opportunity to build affordable homes close to their teaching posts would attract faculty members. Tenured professors and university administrators were offered mortgages starting at three percent but had to abide by a ceiling on costs, including architect fees of $10,000 in the ’20s and ’30s, $18,000 to $27,000 in the ’50s, and $40,000 in the ’60s and ’70s. Residents were required to have their homes designed by an architect and not be picked out of a builder’s catalog of ranch houses and split levels.

The University Grove Homeowners Association operates under a set of bylaws adopted in 1988. As an active organization representing all households, the association communicates issues that are of common interest to the Grove community. It conducts an annual meeting and organizes other events such as the neighborhood picnic and National Night to Unite.



Judy Woodward, The University Grove: An Architectural Time Capsule” Park Bugle, September, 2013.

Linda Lee, “St. Paul’s Architectural Time Capsule,” The New York Times, January 5, 1989.


On the Muses

the_muses_by_tbdoll-d6rzn87.pngby Mary Lynn Kittelson

In Greek and Roman mythology, there are nine muses who are sisters, goddesses whose father was the great Zeus. I do not know how they would feel if they knew how we have changed their status as goddesses to the neglected word “musing.” Maybe they do know and have become pale. Maybe (like many of us), they are “tsking, tsking” away at how culture has gone downhill. The muses hung around with Apollo in his aspect as god of music.

The names of these revered sisters of the arts and sciences are: Clio (history), Euterpe (lyric poetry), Thalia (comedy), Melpomene (tragedy), Terpsichore (dance), Erato (erotic poetry), Polyhymnia (sacred poetry, or some say, mimic art —hmm. . .), Urania (astronomy), and Calliope (chief of the muses). I wondered what exactly Calliope did. Were her sisters disorganized? One source stated that, as first in rank among her sisters, she was considered to be the muse of epic poetry and eloquence. I certainly would not want to be heard as hammering in a point, but with this discovery, I note that three or four, that is, nearly one half of this elegant group offers inspiration from poetry.

Of course, the idea is that, especially if we hold still and listen, the muses will whisper in our ear. But I have also seen them as descending like powerful angels, almost like Meryl Streep as the fierce and powerful angel in the film, Angels in America. God knows where it goes from there! For my part, my ceiling is still intact.

The voice can be small, weird. You can recognize the experience when you get excited (“enthused,” full of the gods), even if you do not at first clearly notice why. Sometimes you have to sit there until you know it has entered you. Remember how the muses wear long, beautiful, delicate, flowing robes, so you don’t want to jump on them. They are high class. Also, you have to take care, because muses are well known for evaporating the thought or feeling if you do not honor it. And at our age, who knows if the idea can ever make it back? After musing, I can get up and write or perhaps dither around the house while their ideas and images scamper and roll around in my head.

I hope you notice how many topics the muses covered here. They are forces of arts and sciences. When have they whispered in your ear? Or shouted? Did you jump? Did you write, paint, dance, sing, or hold forth, reciting long forgotten poetic passages? Did you discover a new link, get going on a new experiment? Finally, did you think you might write up something for the newsletter Musings column?

If you are feeling “muse-less” (which can feel a lot like “useless”), you need to know that offerings to the beautiful muses consisted of grains of wheat kneaded with honey. Libations were poured to them of water, milk and honey. Yum.

Around the Twin Cities: Nostalgia


mn-minneapolis-institute-8580Around the Twin Cities


by Claire Aronson

When our children were young, we tried to expose them to some of the culture of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, including the Minnesota Science Museum in Saint Paul and the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Their tolerance for museums was minimal. The Minnesota Zoo was acceptable now and then, but really they’d rather play with their friends or go ice skating at Williams Arena in the winter, or picnics with Don’s math department colleagues and their families in the summer.

However, times change, and now our older daughter (the only child still residing in the Twin Cities area) is doing her best to take her aging mother to places she (our daughter) didn’t want to visit as a child. So when she offered to go with me to the Minneapolis Institute of Art over her Christmas vacation from teaching, I accepted. The museum was open but undergoing changing exhibits, and not many visitors were there. I suggested we start our visit on the top floor where the permanent collection resides, since it had been a long time since I’d visited that part of the museum, and go to the galleries I haven’t seen in many years and which my daughter had never seen. We started with early European art on the third floor.

Suddenly our roles were reversed. My daughter looked carefully, read, and recognized the names of the work of  “old dead guys,” and seemed genuinely interested. We pressed on, passing through some galleries populated with only a few other viewers, including one small gallery that contained a couple who seemed to have set up a little home away from home arrangement and seemed to be enjoying a late breakfast, their belongings spread in a little side gallery. Maybe they live there?  We didn’t linger.

Eventually we left the third floor and descended to the second floor, and since my memory isn’t very good, and I wasn’t taking notes, all I know is that it featured both paintings and photos of scenes in New York City from the ’30s and ’40s—street scenes, photos taken in subway stations, and just general scenes from the city of my birth. I was drawn back to the streets I remembered from my childhood, the department stores I was taken to by my mother, the subways I rode with my father. I was swept away in a tide of nostalgia for the New York I remembered from my earliest years, when subway trains were the usual way I traveled to school each day, accompanied by my father and older brother. In front of me were street scenes that I had taken for granted, here presented as art.

The New York that I’ve revisited in recent years hadn’t yet been invented, but the city I’d known as a child was still there in my memory, just waiting to be rediscovered. Now both mother and daughter can say thank you to our excellent museum, for introducing our daughter, at last, to the art she was finally ready to appreciate and for reminding me of my happy childhood.

A Musing



by Mary Lynn Kittelson

It takes years to calm down after retiring. While you are moving through the identity loss (if you do), finding new grooves, etc., you often find you have a great deal of calming down to do. “You can do anything” is a thunderous theme. I thought I would be good at retiring. I was full of ideas. I still see some of them as pretty darned good. But some of them were really duds for me.

It’s a lifesaver, I sometimes feel, that I like to muse. This year, I am thinking about waiting. It can be hard to do, especially if you aren’t keeping busy with the holiday chores and responsibilities around it. (Witness kids.) I wonder if some people don’t entirely miss any musing time at all! It might not seem important.

I have been trying to take good care of myself in this season that I value. I am thinking how slowly important things come, like (for me) Christmas or the Solstice. Or spring. Or healing. Or dying. All the “preparation” happening that we usually don’t even notice, much less think about. It is like the fallow process, with its promise, moving from winter to spring. Or fulsome summer to brittle, flashing fall.

I like this waiting feeling this year. I appreciate the time to notice and envision Christmas or Solstice, the way it has been coming into being this year. I need to hope and to imagine, and I consider these energies real forces in our world. Our difficult world.

I like how we notice how the dark and light change a little each day.

Times like Christmas (or spring) are good times to get perspective on how small we are in the play of the great rhythms of our collective experience. It is a good way to feel the connection with the Earth, other (little) people and animals. It sheds a helpful and sometimes comic light on my personal struggles.

Waiting for peace, or for your family or your country to finally get something straight, is a much harder kind of waiting. It is itchier, or worse. We need mouth guards and muzzles. But at times, megaphones. Hopefully, things happen—informed by musing.

Me, I like this waiting, this feeling of a river of events and rituals we can count on, as practice and as reminders of something bigger.

Aldus Manutius and 1666 Coffman

1666 Coffman addressAldus Manutius and 1666 Coffman

by George Anderson

Aldus Manutius (1449-1515) was an Italian printer and publisher who founded the Aldine Press, Venice. His publishing legacy includes the distinctions of inventing italic type, establishing the modern use of the semicolon, and developing the modern appearance of the comma.

He introduced curved italic type, which replaced the cumbersome square Gothic print used at the time and helped standardize punctuation, defining the rules of use for the comma and semicolon. He also was the first to print small secular books that could be carried around for study and pleasure—the precursors to paperbacks and e-readers today.

The connection between Manutius’s script font and the flowing signature piece in front of 1666 Coffman (recently repaired) is unknown. Who was the artist who designed the condo’s logo in the first place? The connection is likely indirect, but the distinct signage is still in keeping with the Palladian architecture surrounding it.


Native Thistles

I want to introduce you to some misunderstood plants.

Most of us think of thistles as weeds – most of the ones we see along roadsides and field edges are not native and very aggressive.   But there are several native thistles that are well behaved, and will even grow well in gardens.  I’ve planted three species of native thistles in our prairie meadow.  One of them is blooming right now. Continue reading Native Thistles