The village of Chanhassen, Minnesota, slowly grew from a quiet, turn-of-the-century town to a bustling Twin Cities suburb. It was one of the earliest settlements in Carver County, with settlers arriving in the 1850s to stake out their farms. In fact, agriculture was its leading industry until the late 1960s. If you love the area, you’re going to want to discover its historical sites, so use our guide!
St. Hubert’s Church
Parishioners built St. Hubert’s church in 1887. Thanks to its vital community significance, officials put this beloved house of worship on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. It still stands on the east end of town on West 78th Street. The Chanhassen Historical Society helped preserve this building, and it serves as home base for Village Hall.
One of the most interesting attractions at this location is the cemetery. Each October, the Historical Society members host the Cemetery Walk. During this fun and family-friendly event, actors bring prominent citizens to life. So put your babies in the stroller and take a guided tour through St. Hubert’s and Chanhassen Pioneer Cemetery. It’s the ideal way to introduce the kids to local history and the lives of pioneers from various eras, like legendary town resident Albert Pauly, who ran the town’s general store and post office in 1914.
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
The University of Minnesota established the Landscape Arboretum in 1958. This award-winning 1,200-acre park and botanical garden are located just 4 miles from the city center on Arboretum Drive. Its professionally-maintained spaces are a welcoming place for families to connect with nature and local history. Its staff developed 27 commercial apples, including the Honeycrisp.
The arboretum is home to protected natural areas and is a center for horticultural research. It offers innovative educations programs as well as rare plant collections and displays. Visitors can also go cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or hiking along the arboretum’s trails.
Registration for the arboretum’s summer camp programs starts each year in January. Staff will introduce kids from kindergarten to age 15 to an engaging mix of science-based programs that encourage exploration and support a love of nature. Older children will want to discover the Counselor-in-Training (CIT) program. Organizers designed it to provide opportunities for responsible youth mentors to work with younger campers and gardeners.
Chanhassen Dinner Theatres
Chanhassen Dinner Theatres is a must-see destination for anyone in the family that enjoys area history. Herb Bloomberg, a local builder, constructed the stunning 600-seat hall in 1968 in the middle of a cornfield. The City Council eagerly embraced the project, and more than half a century later, this entertainment complex represents one of the largest theaters of its kind at 90,000 square feet.
Talented directors, musicians, and actors have brought various quality entertainment experiences to Minnesota’s history enthusiasts since the production company opened with “Fiddler on the Roof” on the Main Stage in 1971. Enjoy the theater’s beauty and the creative charm of local performers at this venue. It combines music and cabaret-style shows on multiple stages with classic American fare. Dinner is included with your ticket price, making it a convenient outing for parents.
The Mudcura Building Site
The Mudcura Sanitarium building once sat on the Carver County side of the river. Owners opened this world-famous spa in 1909 and operated it for 42 years. Sadly, the main building burned through the roof and floor, and officials demolished it in 1997.
Although the building is gone, the empty pit is now a Minnesota DNR Scientific and Natural Area. Each spring, thousands of wildflowers bloom here. It’s also home to one of the state’s rare and protected calcareous fen wetland areas, making it an excellent stop for nature lovers, too.
The Mudcura building has had many different uses over its life. In 1951, the Black Franciscans, formally known as the Order of Friars Minor Conventual, from Louisville, Kentucky, purchased the building and named it Assumption Seminary. It served this purpose until 1970, after which it sat vacant for many years. Historians say that the Colleges of St. Catherine and St. Thomas also once occupied the structure.
The Andrew Peterson Farm
The legendary Andrew Peterson farmstead is a destination location of its own. It sits off Highway 5 in Waconia and ranks on the National Register of Historic Places. The farm is open for tours. The cost is $5, and you must make an appointment. The entrance fee also includes a visit to the Scandia Cemetery and admission to the Carver County Historical Society Museum.
In 1850, Peterson joined 1.3 million Swedes who immigrated to the U.S. between 1820 and 1920. However, what makes this spot so interesting is that we know the owner’s story, thanks to Swedish author Vilhelm Moberg. He discovered Peterson’s journals at the Minnesota Historical Society and shared them with the world. Attractions at the farm include the original Peterson home, granary, and barn.
Fort Snelling is a National Historic Landmark located on Tower Avenue in St. Paul. Early settlers established it in the 1820s to protect the area’s fur trade. Visitors can learn about the reconstructed fort’s two centuries of history, see demonstrations of 19th-century military tactics, and discover the skills its inhabitants needed to survive the rigors of daily life.
The fort’s long-spanning history features stories of traders, soldiers, enslaved people, and immigrants. According to archeologists, people have lived on the site where Fort Snelling resides for 10,000 years, and it’s still known as Bdote by the Dakota people.
This historic site is open seasonally from the end of October to late May. Adult tickets cost $12, while children four and under get in free. Members, Native Americans, and veterans also get in free. Shop the store in the wood barracks for gifts and souvenirs. Parking is also free.
There you have it! Crème de la Crème of Chanhassen just informed you of area’s top historical sites. Did you like the destinations we picked? Did we miss a favorite spot of yours — one Twin City history buffs would love? If we did, let us know and drop us a line. We want to add your ideas to our growing list.