History & Arts
Native Americans were the first residents of our area. To them, the waterfall on the river was sacred and no warfare was permitted while visiting them. Father Louis Hennepin, a Franciscan priest captured by the Dakota, is credited with being the first European to see the falls in 1680. He was so taken with their beauty that he named them after his patron saint, St. Anthony of Padua. His accounts of adventures in the new world helped make this a destination for adventurous travelers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The falls became the center for logging businesses and by 1850 census records show the town of St. Anthony Falls with a population of 656. The first store was opened in 1847, at what is now Main Street and Second Avenue SE; the first frame houses were built in 1848 and the first school was opened in 1849.
Eventually the town of St. Anthony Falls incorporated in 1855, and was later named St. Anthony. It merged with Minneapolis in 1872. Fifth Street became the premier address in the city. It was home to flour manufacturers, lumbermen, merchants and other civic leaders who built the town of St. Anthony. In 1976 a portion of Fifth Street SE was designated a local historic district. Marcy-Holmes boasts three other historic districts: the St. Anthony Falls Historic District, the University of MN Greek Letter Chapter House Historic District, and the Dinkytown Historic District.
The Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association was recently recognized by National Geographic for helping promote the character and well-being of the Mississippi River destinations. Our mobile History Tour: Hiding in Plain Sight, is featured on the Mississippi River Geotourism Program and locally at Minneapolis Historical.
To learn about other destinations recognized by National Geographic, please click on their link badge below.
Learn more about the history of Marcy-Holmes in a book by Penny Petersen called "Hiding in Plain Sight: Minneapolis' First Neighborhood," available at Lunds & Byerlys on Central Avenue, and from the Marcy-Holmes Neighborhood Association's office. $19.95 each.