Prospect Park neighborhood association marks 100 years

Robyn Repya

Heavy and unrelenting snowfall could not keep more than 150 Prospect Park residents from celebrating their neighborhood association’s 100th anniversary Monday night.

The Prospect Park and East River Road Improvement Association is the oldest neighborhood organization in Minneapolis. It represents the Prospect Park area, Fourth Street, Stadium Village, Glendale and Motley neighborhoods.

The Centennial Celebration occurred at the United Methodist Church in the Prospect Park neighborhood.

The church was decorated with balloons and “Happy Birthday” signs. A timeline marking all the important events in the neighborhood since the association’s conception in 1901 hung on the wall.

Residents put on a program in the church sanctuary to commemorate the beginnings of the association. The participants dressed in attire from the early 1900s and performed skits based on the lives of those who lived in the neighborhood at that time.

Rep. Phyllis Kahn, D-Minneapolis, was one of the program performers. She came down the church’s aisle pushing a vintage bicycle and wearing a hat reminiscent of the time, complete with feathers.

Kahn portrayed the wife of one of the association’s founders, Mr. Charles W. Purple. She talked about pertinent issues of the time, such as the suffrage movement and prohibition.

PPERRIA is made up of neighborhood resident volunteers.

The association addresses a variety of issues affecting the neighborhood, such as housing, land use, planning, historical preservation, landscaping and community activities.

Florence Littman, a PPERRIA board member who has lived in the neighborhood for 40 years, said she feels a sense of pride and strength stemming from the association’s Centennial Celebration.

She said the association is special because all of the volunteer work it does.

Littman said the organization has been very effective in protecting and maintaining the historic neighborhood.

“Some of the issues they were talking about in 1901 are some of the same issues were talking about now,” she said.

Eleanor Montgomery, 70, has been a resident of the neighborhood for 35 years.

She said one thing she has found rewarding about living in the neighborhood has been the chance to interact with people from different cultures.

Montgomery said she has enjoyed making many Hmong friends in the Glendale community. She said watching the recent immigrants go to college and become successful has been inspiring.

She said the Centennial Celebration was exciting because it is a chance for neighbors, public officials and PPERRIA board members to get together.

“That’s what Prospect Park’s all about, people who don’t just sit around but do something important,” Montgomery said.

Robyn Repya welcomes comments at [email protected]