Memories of the Calhoun Beach Club

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We finally got some snow, the day after Christmas and today the temperature is 1 degree F. Seems much more like a normal Minnesota winter. I’m not convinced it is wonderful but it is more familiar.

I left Minnesota 25 years ago. I visited many times but mostly came to see family on whirlwind visits. It feels strange to be back. It is oddly familiar and yet different. Driving around the area, I will turn a corner and expect to see a store or a restaurant on the next corner and I am always amazed when it is there.

Calhoun Beach Club
Calhoun Beach Club

Yesterday I was driving through Uptown and down around Lake Calhoun. At 401 acres it is the largest of the city lakes and popular for swimming and boating. Across from the main beach is the Calhoun Beach Club. Construction started on the building in 1928 but it took 18 years to finish because of the Great Depression. It was originally called the Lake Calhoun Bath House. It had changing rooms, lockers and showers as well as $10,000 of sand they brought in for the beach.

Over the years the Beach Club has been a hotel, housed radio and TV studios, and been a home for the elderly. In 1977 it was restored to its original purpose as a health and social club. The upper floors became luxury apartment homes and in 2003 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Beach Club wedding
Beach Club wedding

On the second floor of the Club, there was a large room overlooking the lake with floor to ceiling windows. In the 1980’s the room was decorated like a tropical hotel furnished in white rattan and palm trees. It served as a restaurant and was available to reserve for events. It was magical in winter because you could pretend you were on a tropical island when it was below zero and several feet of snow sat outside the windows. The unobstructed view of Lake Calhoun was breathtaking.

I was married in that room in the middle of December, 26 years ago. As I drove by it, I pointed it out to my son and took a moment to remember what a beautiful day that was.



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