Behind the Victory Flagpole – Little Jenny Lind

Reading and writing and ‘rithmetic, Taught to the tune of a hickory stick…

That’s the vision I get when I think of a little school called Jenny Lind. It was in the winter of 1920 and started as a two-room portable on the northwest comer of 52nd and Aldrich Avenues N. The enrollment was 65 pupils at that time. With the steady growth of the community in 1921, a portable building with 10 rooms, housing 344 children, was erected in the same location.

The first teacher was Miss Amy C. Barse and she was later named principal, remaining in that position for 33 years. The original structure was moved to 51st and Penn and became the 91st elementary school in Minneapolis. It was re-named Walter Reed and opened on October 4, 1933, with pupils in kindergarten and first, second and third grades. The children had attended Lind and Hamilton schools; but the distance was considered too great for young children to walk, in such an unimproved section of town.

The two teachers employed were Miss Florence Estes, who taught all day and Mrs. Winifred Beck who taught half-days. The school was only in session one school year because the portable school was too expensive for such a small number of pupils. $4,500 a year was saved by the closing. A VFW establishment, called Clarence La Belle VFW, purchased the Walter Reed School and turned it into a VFW meeting place. An addition had to be made to accommodate their increased membership.

Because the original Lind School on 52nd and Aldrich had inadequate facilities, it prompted some alternative construction plans in 1935. Much detail between the Public Works Administration, federal and local government boards and agencies resulted in final plans which led to ground breaking ceremonies in March 1936. In the interim, the cost increased 20 percent. It was decided to build a two-story permanent building and change the location to 50th and Dupont, which was only six blocks away. It housed 440 pupils. The property was part of the original acreage acquired by the city of Minneapolis for the Workhouse.

Mr. Drolsum, second principal of Lind, said that one vivid memory of his during his 12 years at Lind was a cave-in of part of the earth on the school property. It occurred a week after he came, and lead to much consternation when it was learned a slaughterhouse had been there at one time. (I hope he didn’t think this was a bad omen.) The new section of Lind School was dedicated in 1951.