Morris Park Elementary School Photo: D. Walter, 2003
3810 East 56th Street - closed
Minneapolis 17, Minnesota
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Morris Park makes up the southeastern border of Minneapolis. The neighborhood abuts the Twin Cities Air Force Reserve Base on the south, and 54th Street East is its northern extent.
Morris Park is also bordered by 34th Avenue South on the west and 46th Avenue South on the east, the latter of which serves as the city border.
The neighborhood took its name from Mary C. Morris, daughter of Franklin Steele.
Steele was the first European-American settler of the city of St. Anthony (on the east bank of the Mississippi River, in what is now Minneapolis), and he donated land to the University of Minnesota.
A majority of the single-family homes were built from the 1920s through the 1960s. A large reason for the development in Morris Park
during this time was the availability of streetcar routes and rail lines in this area that date back to 1865.
Today, Morris Park is part of the Nokomis community and the Nokomis East Neighborhood Association (NENA).
NENA encompasses a total of four neighborhoods. The other neighborhoods are Keewaydin, Minnehaha and Wenonah.
Public and shopping amenities abound for Morris Park and the NENA neighborhoods
with parks, lakes, a post office, library and shops either in Morris Park or adjacent neighborhoods.
Today the school is known as Crosstown Educational Center.
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Morris Park 10/4/1940 Crosstown Educational Center Morris Park aerial view foreground
Morris Park School
Open House, June 2003
Photos: Peggy Donnelly Tabbut
Click to enlarge each photo. Use your "back" button to return to the gallery to select the next photo.
Morris Park Lutheran Church
Established January 6, 1926
5600 34th Avenue South
American Legion Wold Chamberlain Post 99 today
Today, I received this email from Steve Peasley, '73 who has contributed previously to this website:
"A year back I was asked by the patrons of the Wold Chamberlin Post 99 on 34th and 56th to find out what the name of the church was that is now the post. If you were ever in the place (upstairs), you would know it was a church.
This is what I came up with: It was built in 1920, and this was an addition to the West and North corner for a back staircase from 1931. The back stairs were an add to the church for another exit. The photo is looking South and is the front.
Also a picture of the place from 1956 before the brick work was done in '62 or so. May go well in the Morris Park section." - 4/5/14
Permit to Build Outside of Fire Limits
Jet Hits House, At Least 6 Dead
A navy jet plane crashed into a house and set fire to five others at the north edge of Wold-Chamberlain field at 9:30 a.m. today, killing at least six persons and injuring nine others.
The plane left a military formation to make an emergency landing and hit the street in front of 5804 and 5808 Forty-Sixth Avenue S., near the main gate of the navy base.
The plane then bounced into the home of Donald and Jane Garles, 5820 Forty-sixth, and shattered with a terrific explosion and flash which scattered the plane and its fuel over the neighborhood.
Firefighters rushed to extinguish a fire in one of the houses hit by debris. (Minneapolis Star photo)
Some 20 or more children were at play in that block when the plane crashed. Some of them were littered with debris and flaming fuel.
Five of them, taken to Veterans hospital, were reported in “very critical” condition with burns. One other child was taken to the same hospital with less severe injuries.
Two were taken to General hospital and three to the navy infirmary at the airport.
The pilot of the plane, Major George Armstrong, 33, 5808 Pearson drive, Edina, was killed. The second body identified was that of Debora De Wolfe, 7, 5816 Forty-sixth Avenue S.
The child’s body was found on a couch in her home. Alongside the couch was the landing gear of the plane.
The other dead were not identified immediately.
Glen Gould, chief of the veterans administration fire department, said six bodies had been recovered.
“We made a pretty close check of the burned homes and I don’t believe there are any more,” he said.
At a press conference at navy headquarters, Col. Frank F. Gill, commanding officer of the naval air station, explained that Armstrong and two other pilots had taken off on a tactical training mission.
The other two were Maj. O.J. Miller, Isanti, Minn., and Maj. Harold Slay, Somerset, Wis. The three are navy reservists.
Miller, according to Gill, said Armstrong reported he was having some trouble with the plane and was breaking formation to head back to the airport.
“He didn’t explain what the trouble was, but he didn’t seem to be alarmed,” Gill said. “Miller followed him toward the airport.
“Miller said Armstrong appeared to have made the airport and that he, Miller, then turned away from the airport before the crash.” …
Residents of the south Minneapolis neighborhood gathered to watch firefighters work the crash scene. (Minneapolis Star photo)
Children Playing When Jet Hits ‘Like a Bomb’
South Minneapolis residents who had
been working in their yards, supervising their children at play or
going about normal household tasks were shaken at 9:32 a.m. today by
an explosion that some described as a “huge bomb blast.”
Morris Park Plane Crash of April
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Photo can be enlarged twice. Click once to open thumbnail, then place cursor at right bottom corner and click once again.
enjoyed your web site so much and check back frequently for new things.
You have done an amazing job and this site brings back lots of memories
Although I graduated from Roosevelt in 1967, there are many things on this site that trigger those memories. It is always so enjoyable just to browse through the photos and see some familiar names.
I recently found a photo on a web site for Morris Park. I was in sixth grade when a plane crashed into the school and for many years I wondered if there even was a photo. I thought I would share this with you.
It was April 27, 1961. My classroom was Mrs. Erskine's 6th grade and is the second floor room in the photo.
It was so fortunate that there were no students injured by this crash as it was just a few minutes after school was out for the day. Unfortunately, the pilot did not survive.
Thanks for the great site and all the work you have done on it." (7/17/11)
~ Linda Syverson Stinar, Class of 1967 ~
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~ The Milwaukee Journal - April 28, 1961 ~
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~ St. Joseph, Missouri News-Press - April 28, 1961 ~
Crashes in School Yard
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The pilot's name was
Oscar Lakin of Glencoe, Illinois.
His daughter, Sharon Lakin Goldman
recently emailed me, as she is interested in finding more information
about this tragic plane crash of April 27, 1961.
If anyone can provide details, please email me at: email@example.com and I will forward them to her. (9/7/11)
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from the plane crash, April 27, 1961
"I do however remember the crash at Morris Park Elementary School in '61. I had just left the school and was about three blocks away when the plane hit… I finished my walk home and my father picked me up in his car and we drove back and saw the plane… It was a private Cessna type aircraft. Single prop I would imagine. It dove straight into the parking lot and into the first floor school rooms on the northwest side of the building. It was not a pretty sight. I am not sure but I think we had no school for a few days after that, while they cleaned it all up".
"On a whim I decided to search recently for info about the 1961 plane crash at Morris Park Elementary, and happened upon this site. It’s interesting that there’s not much else out there. Since I was in the school building at the time of the crash, I thought I’d contribute my memories of the incident, for what they’re worth…
As I recall, it happened about 20 minutes or so after school let out for the day. I was still there feeding the fifth-grade hamsters, in a second-floor room across the hall from the rooms that were damaged. I heard a loud boom and went to the door where I found teachers hurrying kids out of the east side door – the plane had hit on the west side (38th Avenue), in the small front parking lot where teachers parked their cars. I don’t think the school building itself was directly hit, although there was some fire damage to some of the rooms on that side. I remember bumping into the crabby teacher (Mrs. Olson?), and when she didn’t yell at me I knew something serious was up, and that frightened me more than the noise – but this might be a later interpretation rather than a real memory. From the playground/parking lot on the east side of the school I could see a large column of black smoke on the other side of the building, but didn’t know what had happened yet. I ran across the playing field to 40th Avenue and saw a fire truck coming from the station on 40th or 41st and about 57th or 58th Street. It seems unlikely there would be only one, but that’s what I remember; and back then neighborhood fire stations didn’t have the large array of equipment they do now.
We lived four houses down from the south corner of the school, across the street. My mother said when she looked out the front door after hearing the sound, she saw a wall of flame obscuring the whole front of the school. I don’t know how much of that was the exaggeration of panic. I recall a distinct column, not a wide extent of smoke. When I was told my mother was looking for me, I went to the front of the school. The fire was out by that time. I don’t remember seeing the plane, or when I learned that was what had happened, there were many people milling around. There was also fire damage to the house immediately to the north of the school. At least into the 1980s, you could still see the vertical scar in an elm tree on the boulevard that was also damaged. Google streetview now - It shows a new young tree there.
Rumors started immediately – the pilot was with a woman who wasn’t his wife. He had radioed in that he was going to deliberately crash in the parking lot because he was afraid he couldn’t make it to the playing field on the other side, and didn’t want to hit the school. An engine had landed in a backyard half a block away and a wing had landed on the roof of the school. I think the last may have been true, because from the upper floor of a house 2 houses away I remember seeing something sticking out past the edge of the school roof on the western part of the south side.
I don’t recall if school was cancelled the next day or not. I was probably was kept home since my mother had gone into shock. I seem to recall it was near the end of the school year, April or May. Certainly there were no counselors to go to in the schools those days if something traumatic happened.
For some years, I had a shoebox of bits of metal parts I picked up from the parking lot area in the next few days – little springs, bolts, etc. It disappeared long ago – probably a good thing, because it smelled of whatever the fire department had sprayed on the fire. In the mid-'90s I found the letter the Metropolitan Airports Commission (I think) wrote in reply to a letter from my father. It was short, a basic thanks-for-your-concern sort of thing; and as I recall said only that the single-occupant plane (so much for the mystery female rumor) had developed engine trouble shortly after take-off. I don’t recall if it said the pilot was trying to return to the airport or not. That letter has long gone, also."
"I was standing on the corner waiting for a friend when the plane crashed in front of me. I actually saw it crash. It did happen after school was out. I was a “safety patrol” crossing guard. I remember everyone saying it was a miracle it happened after school was out.
It did crash into that little parking lot. School didn’t close because of this. My classroom (Mrs. Erskine-6th grade) and the downstairs classroom (Miss Monroe) were damaged. For a week or two we had class in the library. I vividly remember the SMELL of our classroom. I also remember all the rumors that were flying while the FAA was raking the wreckage: They found another arm, a hand, a finger…all to make the whole thing scarier. The pilot was the only one on the plane."
"History of Minneapolis Plane Crashes" - Google search
"The date of the plane crash that happened in the parking lot of Morris Park Elementary School was April 27, 1961. It was a beautiful day, until that crash. It was one of the first warm days of the Spring season, and it was a good day to be outside after school."
~ Does anyone remember this Morris Park Plane Crash of April 27, 1961? If so, please let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org ~
~ Sixth Grade ~
Does anyone have the Sixth Grade Graduation photo that can be scanned and displayed below?
If so, please email the webmaster for details.
Until a graduation photo becomes available, here is the beginning of an album of Morris Park alumni.
MORRIS PARK ALBUM
School Colors: _____ and _____
~ Interesting Links ~
Planning for the Future
Fire Protection Engineering Report
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