Town Days Tour 2013 Belle Plaine

 

History

  • Belle Plaine is located in Scott County on the banks of the Minnesota River. It is off Highways 169 and 25.
  • Belle Plaine was founded by Minnesota Territorial Judge Andrew G. Chatfield. He selected the town site in 1853 while traveling horseback from Mendota to Traverse des Sioux to hold court. Judge Chatfield chose to name the town Belle Plaine, which is French for “beautiful prairie.”
  • Belle Plaine was settled by people of mainly German and Irish descent.
  • Judge Chatfield left the town of Belle Plaine a legacy of wide, tree-lined streets and abundant, inviting park lands.
  • Belle Plaine serves as the southwest gateway to the seven-county Twin Cities metropolitan area.
  • Belle Plaine is home to the Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration. A rare find in the Minnesota River Valley, the church was built in the prairie gothic style, complete with wooden buttresses. Built in 1868, it was intended for English-speaking persons. However, the area was settled primarily by German and Irish immigrants who brought their own worship practices to the community. Although the church site had a railroad connection with the Twin Cities, was home to the Diocesan Cathedral and Seabury Seminary, and though it survived the halting blows of the Panic of 1857, the Dakota Conflict of 1862, and the Civil War, the Episcopal congregation had built a magnificent edifice for growth which never came.
  • The Hooper-Bowler-Hillstrom house in Belle Plaine was built in 1871 by Sandford Hooper, a Belle Plaine businessman. It was bought in 1886 by Samuel Bowler, a founder of the State Bank of Belle Plaine. Mr. Bowler added rooms and a two-story outhouse to accommodate his large family. The Alfred Hillstrom family moved into the house in 1901. They lived there until 1975 when it was purchased by the Belle Plaine Historical Society. The house is open for visitors and tours every Sunday from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and other times by appointment.
  • Abigail Square, formerly the Alta Vista Hotel, was built in the Spring of 1857. The three story building included an enclosed courtyard and a stable. The Alta Vista Hotel was a stopping place for the stage and teamsters. The building led a varied life serving everything from a Sister’s School to a cigar factory, to a bar. In 2000, the building underwent a major renovation.

 

Businesses

  • The Belle Plaine Public School system serves over 1,500 kids – with more coming every year. They are the Tigers. Belle Plaine also has a pre-k through 8th grade Lutheran school, Trinity Lutheran, and a pre-k through 6th grade Catholic school, Our Lady of the Prairie.
  • Belle Plaine is home to a large assisted living facility, Lutheran Home. They have an Alzheimer’s unit as well as apartments and townhomes for seniors.
  • The Emma Krumbee’s complex in Belle Plaine is more than just a restaurant. There is also a floral shop, a country store, and even an apple orchard.
  • The Belle Plaine Cooperative serves the agricultural needs of farmers from around the area, and also has a country store that has everything from clothing to pet food, and much more.
  • Belle Plaine is home to many smaller businesses that are both agriculture and manufacturing-based.

 

Festivals & Events

  • Belle Plaine celebrates the Irish descent of its residents every St. Patrick’s Day. The day starts with a special Mass at the Catholic Church, followed by a huge parade, lots of green beer, and plenty of fun.
  • Belle Plaine celebrates the German heritage of its residents every May with German Day. It features a big parade, drinking and dancing, and wrestling downtown.
  • Belle Plaine holds a cookout every summer that serves as a prelude for their summer festival, Bar-B-Que Days. The cookout takes place in June. Bar-B-Que Days is 3 days of music, food, fireworks, and beer. It takes place in July. The crowning of Miss Belle Plaine takes place during Bar-B-Que Days as well.
  • Belle Plaine’s annual Business Showcase takes place in April. Numerous businesses from around the area show off their wares during the event, which is held at the Belle Plaine Elementary School.

 

People

  • The City of Belle Plaine has a population of approximately 5,000 people. The Mayor is Timothy Lies.
  • The oldest living descendent of the founder of Belle Plaine passed away in 2010 at the age of 103. Virginia Irwin Kruger was the great-granddaughter of Belle Plaine Founder Judge Andrew G. Chatfield. She was a member of the Belle Plaine High School Class of 1924, as well as a lifelong member of the Belle Plaine Historical Society and Minnesota Territorial Pioneers. She served as the Honorary Grand Marshall of Belle Plaine’s sesquicentennial parade in 2004 as well. A celebration of her life was held on what would have been her 104th birthday on March 30th, 2010.
  • A pair of auctioneers from Belle Plaine took part in the 24th annual Minnesota State Auctioneer Championship in January of 2012. Christopher and Joey Fahey were among the 23 callers competing for the championship trophy, ring or belt buckle.
  • A tornado touched down near Belle Plaine in June of 2012. The twister was on the ground for about 2 miles and was rated as a “weak” EF-0, with winds of up to 70 miles-per-hour. Some farm buildings and a grain bin were damaged, but no one was injured.
  • The students of the Belle Plaine School District were welcomed back to school in September of 2012 by around $200,000 worth of new technology with which to further their educations. The new equipment included 110 new Apple iPads, doubling the number the district owned, and 53 new iMac computers. More than $51,000 was spent on staff development for technology training as well, and the district spent around $280,000 upgrading its wireless network.
  • The students of Belle Plaine High School crowned new Homecoming Royalty in October of 2012. Named Homecoming King was Brandon Boateng, and crowned Homecoming Queen was Jessica Buszmann.

 

 

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