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Public Hearing, May 2006

On April 25, 2006, Minneapolis Pioneers and Soldiers moved one step closer to being designated a landmark site by the City of Minneapolis. The City’s Heritage Preservation Commission voted to forward the nomination to the City’s Zoning and Planning Committee for a public hearing on May 4, 2006. After Zoning and Planning votes, the recommendation will be forwarded to the Minneapolis City Council on May 17th.

The CPED Planning Division’s report summarizing the case for designation noted that the cemetery meets at least two of required criteria for historic designation: 1). The property is associated with significant events or with periods that exemplify broad patterns of cultural, political, economic or social history, and 2). The property is associated with the lives of significant persons or groups.

Several of those significant people, for the most part Minneapolis’ territorial pioneers, have been the subjects of earlier Alley articles. As important as those individuals were, the fact that important people are buried in a cemetery does not ensure historic designation (especially inclusion on the National Register of Historic Sites). Cemeteries by their very nature are all, in some sense, historic sites, and that is one reason why they rarely receive historic designation. It is particularly significant that Minneapolis Pioneers and Soldiers Memorial Cemetery will have both local and federal designation.

The importance of the cemetery’s association with significant events and broad patterns of social history cannot be overstated. The people buried in the cemetery, like the people who live in Phillips today, are a diverse group. The earliest burials were mostly those of many transplanted New Englanders many of whom were involved in the anti-slavery movement. It is also the burial site of the early African-American community; the first recorded burial of an African-American occurred in 1867. The styles of the markers and the languages used to inscribe memorials on them clearly illustrate the pattern of the city’s early European immigration. As the CPED report notes, the cemetery “is one of the few surviving features from the city’s first fifteen years of American and European settlement.” Almost 200 veterans of wars ranging from the War of 1812 to World War I are also present.

On Monday, May 29th, at 10 a.m., the 137th Memorial Day observance will take place at Minneapolis Pioneers and Soldiers. Bob Hagen will be this year’s special guest. Mr. Hagen, a South High graduate, class of 1940, read the Gettysburg Address on Memorial Day in 1939, and he will be joining this year for a repeat performance.

At 1 p.m. there will be a talk on the cemetery’s history followed by an optional tour. Please join us!


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