Updates, history, and content from neighbors in and around the Wedge
Restaurant Spotlight: Bryant Lake Bowl
Bryant Lake Bowl (BLB) has been a mainstay in Lowry Hill East for more than 80 years. The neighborhood watering hole sits on the corner of Bryant Ave South and West Lake Street and is sought out by bowlers and foodies alike.
Between bowling, a variety of theater performances (in non-Covid times), and a handpicked menu, BLB has something for everyone. Brunch runs from open to 3 p.m. every day, and their sliced breakfast potatoes are not to be missed. Dinner runs from 3 p.m. until close, and BLB’s signature cocktails and wide variety of tap beers are available at any hour.
Like many restaurants, BLB has struggled with indoor dining capacity limits. BLB has transformed their back parking lot with tents and tables allowing you to dine al fresco. They also offer a variety of takeout options and cocktail kits to-go.
BLB is open for your early morning breakfast meetings and late night bites. “We’re used to having a full restaurant, sold-out ninety seat theater, and bowling alley,” remarks owner Erica Gilbert, hinting that an onslaught of takeout orders from the LHENA Restaurant Fan Club would be easy for her staff to manage.
BLB was recently featured in a short drone film which received worldwide recognition.
Bryant Lake Bowl
Hours: 10AM – 11PM
Address: 810 W Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55408
My name Is Nassise (Nah-See-Say) Geleta, pronouns she/her/hers. I am the new community organizer with LHENA. I am a firm believer in grassroots organizing and especially passionate about community building/working alongside others to share resources and foster safe, healthy, and livable communities for all. If nothing else, this past year has demonstrated that not only is this much needed -- it’s 100% achievable when we all show up and advocate for each other. With that being said, I’m really excited to be joining all the amazing work LHENA has been doing and look forward to working collaboratively with all of you as I step into this new role. When I am not at work, I enjoy spending time with family and friends, cooking, and connecting with nature. You can reach me via email at email@example.com. Cheers!
How a Popular School for Teachers in Lowry Hill East Helped Kindergarten Get Started in Minneapolis
By Kathy Kullberg
Children's education has always been one of the top priorities of Minneapolis beginning with the early founders of the new community of St. Anthony in 1848. As the population rapidly increased, so did the urgency to provide more schools and a standard curriculum for its next generation. However, it was not until 1896 that education for the very young — under 5 years old — found a champion in Stella Louise Wood. Young children stayed at home and did not begin their formal schooling until the first grade.
As the city expanded across the Mississippi into Minneapolis, there was no provision for educating the very young until a small group of "public spirited" citizens organized the Minneapolis Kindergarten Association in 1892. The main objective was to promote and make the European concept of "kindergartens," developed by German Fredrick Froebel, part of the public school system. Although the general public embraced the idea and donated large contributions, the first kindergarten was actually opened at the Gethsemane Episcopal Church in downtown Minneapolis. No formalized training for teachers, however, was in place.
In 1896, a turn of events selected Stella Louise Wood to replace Jean MacArthur, who had begun the basic teacher training school in Gethsemane a few years earlier. Chicagoan Stella Wood had championed the cause of the youngster and devoted her lifetime to ensuring that specialized teachers were available. Her first school had 15 student teachers in all as entrance requirements were stringent. Young lady applicants had to be at least 18 years old, graduated high school, possess considerable musical proficiency and "carry a tune correctly" as well as play the piano. Woods was especially devoted to serving the underprivileged poor and immigrant populations of the city.
Stella Louise Wood was born in Chicago on Sept. 2, 1865. Looking for a career choice that matched her spirit, in 1893, Stella graduated from Alice Putnam's training school in the slums of Chicago which shaped her ideals for the rest of her life. After further education in Muskegon College and a year in Dubuque, Iowa, in 1896, she was called to become the superintendent of the fledgling Minneapolis Kindergarten Association by Mrs. Clara Ueland, a board member and later president of the Minnesota Suffrage association.
Uniquely, her own school was one where Stella felt free to welcome qualified women students from all minority races. From the beginning, she impressed upon her students the "necessity of ridding themselves of race prejudice." Her grandfather had been an ardent abolitionist, spiriting many a brave soul from his Chicago "underground station" to boats in Detroit and Canada.
Stella, though loving her Chicago job had come to the conclusion that she would rather "teach in a charity kindergarten than in a private school" for the wealthy. Grubby dirty hands would be washed once the tenement children got to school. They would be fed and allowed the freedom to be children and not become street urchins. What the children learned and did away from home was taken back home and shared with their families, inducing improvements in the conditions at home.
She felt that "good morals, good citizenship and democratic ideals could be taught most effectively in the kindergarten, along with the ability to speak English. Best of all, the genuine friendliness of the kindergarten teacher was able to win the confidence of the mothers and open the way for her to help the family adapt to American ways of life."
The Wood’s school was so successful that by 1919, the increase in enrollment necessitated a move to Lowry Hill East. The home housing Miss Sterrett's kindergarten and nursery school located at 2017 Bryant Avenue South offered a shared compatible space for both schools. Although the house itself had no formal large auditorium space, the basement and gymnasium of St. Paul's Episcopal Church next door were used daily. For young ladies coming from out of state to attend the school accommodations were found in the houses and mansions located near the school. Many a family in Lowry Hill and Lowry Hill East enjoyed the opportunity to share space with a prestigious Miss Wood’s student.
Miss Wood's School motto and logo was based on a six-pointed star intertwining the words heart, God, hand, nature, head and man. The intense two-year curriculum was designed to offer the student teacher theoretical and practical training in all the sciences and arts for teaching young children. Most often, it was not just the young who were being educated but in a round-about way, also their parents and siblings.
Over the course of the first year, there were classes in psychology, childhood education, English composition, penmanship, nature study, infant and maternal hygiene, physical training and folk dances, games, music, vocal training, art appreciation and drawing. Students visited welfare clinics, juvenile court sessions, children's home societies as well as cultural events. The second year was devoted to student teaching in a demonstration kindergarten as well as expanded site visits to various industries and cultural activities.
One of the early demonstration schools for student teachers was the North East Neighborhood Kindergarten School established in 1914 as a Settlement House in Northeast Minneapolis.
After World War I, the introduction of kindergartens into public school systems increased the number of positions for paid assistant teachers. Student enrollment dramatically increased in Miss Wood's School. A local magazine article in 1928 noted students came to Minneapolis from Maine to Montana, Canada to Mississippi "attracted by the prestige with which a graduate of Miss Wood's School enjoy." To be a "Miss Wood Girl" was an enviable designation and highly sought after. Faculty at this time consisted of 19 men and women, and students numbered 180.
By 1948, two major events precipitated the closing of the Wood’s school on Bryant. The little school on Bryant could not keep up with the demand for quality teachers, and Stella’s health was failing. Miss Wood's School became affiliated with Macalester College in St. Paul that year and eventually became part of the department of education. The curriculum then was expanded into a full four-year course qualifying graduates to teach kindergarten through the third grade.
Miss Stella Woods retired in September of 1948 and moved to Chicago to be near her brother. By then, her legendary school had graduated over 3,000 pupils, many teaching in 32 states, South Africa and Panama.
Stella Wood died on Feb. 12, 1949, in River Forest, Illinois at the age of 83, ending a career
of more than 50 years of outstanding dedication and teaching but leaving a high-water mark for the future of education.
Kathy Kullberg is a Wedge resident and historian.
What a Wedge Neighbor Learned About Civil Rights Working With John Lewis and the SNCC in the 1960s
By Sophie Dolan
This story is part of a conversation with Thrace Soryn, who lives on the 2500 block of Emerson.
"Looking back, I was naive but righteous," Thrace Soryn recounted when asked about her childhood in Omaha, Nebraska, in the early 1940s. "I really identified with people in the world who were not being treated fairly. I think a lot of us lose that awareness and sensitivity. It’s educated out of us."
Thrace, who is 79 today, had a particular sense of curiosity that drove her to ask every person on the street then. "Hey, mister! Hey, lady! Whatcha doing?" No matter their race or age. Most of the time, Thrace's perceptiveness was met with contempt. "As a little girl, I was so often met with people saying, "You can’t do that, little girls don’t do that."
By age 10, Thrace found herself reading books by journalist Carey McWilliams, who wrote about politics and culture, from racism to labor unions, which she considered deeply formative. "That did not go over so well with adults. The education I got from his books was just phenomenal."
Ten years later, Thrace attended the University of Omaha for her undergraduate degree. This is where she found her heart settled into activism. Not long after, she found herself on a Greyhound bus with her husband and a few precious belongings, ready for a fresh start in Princeton, New Jersey. It was here where she got involved with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
Thrace and her husband went south to Mississippi to focus on voter registration. Hostility toward SNCC volunteers often escalated into violence. "We were very deeply educated about civil disobedience and how to remain calm and stay peaceful yourself, and how not to react," recalled Thrace. "It was quite a training that we went through. It was very demanding. But it was also essential that we were taught how to comport ourselves."
At the time, representative John Lewis was the coordinator of SNCC. "He was remarkable in many, many ways. Deeply spiritual, profoundly intellectual, and kind. John was very supportive of women in leadership positions. He asked me — which was very unusual at the time — if I would take over and be the coordinator of a Northern support office. I accepted right away."
John Lewis died of pancreatic cancer in July of 2020, but his mission lives on. Thrace carries their shared values to this day. "This is my view. Our job as citizens is to take care of each other, and try to create the world and the country that we want for all of us."
Sophie Dolan is a coffee drinker, cat mom, storyteller, and small business manager residing in the Wedge.