Then & Now

Mr. Lucky’s opened in December 1962 as the only local nightclub devoted exclusively to teenagers.  As the Twin Cities music scene grew, it was the place for the local bands to play and the kids to dance.

As St. Louis Park continues to redevelop, many of the places that seem to have been here forever are disappearing – and that isn’t always a bad thing. Case in point is the notorious Lakeland Hotel, located just inside the city line on Highway 7.

Say hello to St. Louis Park High’s class of 1940, on the occasion of a class reunion in the summer of 1954. They’re at Jenning’s Café, one of the hot spots on Excelsior Boulevard during the heyday of its bars and gas stations era.

I really love pictures of gas stations, and you can’t beat this one—a 1959 Caddy with tailfins so pointy they’d surely poke your eyes out. The location is easy: Jiffy Car Wash is still at Excelsior Boulevard and Kipling.

This photo, taken by the tax assessor in 1960, is of some long-ago building that stood at what is now around Park Place Boulevard and 16th Street. Fifty-six years doesn’t seem so long ago to those of us in the history game, but a lot has happened since then in St. Louis Park.

You might recognize the name Jim Jennings from the liquor store on Excelsior Blvd. Or maybe you heard mention of him when he was inducted into the Minnesota Hospitality Hall of Fame last fall.

THE IMAGE ABOVE is a rare photograph of the St. Louis Park State Bank, which opened in August 1915, when St. Louis Park was still a village, at Walker Street and Dakota Avenue. Just east of the building was the new high school, the first iteration of what is now Central Community Center.

We never know what wondrous things will come across the threshold of the St. Louis Park Historical Society, and these photos are excellent examples. In the photo above, say hello to Dorothy Strate, a member of the St.

What on earth can be happening here? Is Carole Banbury, Miss St. Louis Park 1959, trying to sell an oven to Little Leaguers Skip Miller and Greg Shea? No; the plot is more complicated.

It’s 1961, and we’re drinking martinis and smoking cigarettes at the Shalimar Thirstbar cocktail lounge at the new Ambassador Motor Lodge. In the middle of the circular bar is a pagoda and elephant sculpture; on the wall is a mural of a parade, with elephants, dancers and musicians.

It’s a story of friendship and civic pride almost 70 years in the making—and a beautiful bloom of a story, too. In 1947, 32 women who were part of St. Louis Park’s popular garden clubs decided to band together and form the Women’s Club of St. Louis Park.

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