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Waite Park Holds First Council Meeting – On ‘This Date In Central Minnesota History’

Teachers and students at the Waite Park Public School in 1908. Photo from the Stearns History Museum

WAITE PARK – April 17th, 1893 – 1st village council meeting in Waite Park.

The beginning of the Waite Park Association is dated August 17, 1887 when a man named John Cooper purchased the land in Section 17 of St. Cloud Township from John and Miriam Becker for $1,125.  On January 24, 1888, this land was transferred to the Association.  The Articles of Incorporation filed on September 2, 1887 state: “The general nature of the business of this Corporation shall be to buy, own, improve, sell and deal in lands, tenements, and hereditament, real, mixed and personal estate, and property, etc.  This corporation shall commence on September 17, 1887 and continue for 30 years.  The persons forming the corporation were: Henry C. Waite, John Cooper, Datus E. Myers, Henry P. Upham, and Howard James.”

1912 photo of the Great Northern car shops in Waite Park

The Great Northern Car Shops were instrumental in the development of a town at this site.  Railroad tycoon James J. Hill purchased 300 acres from the Waites here to build his car shops.  Ground was broken on July 1, 1890 and the Car Shops opened July 1, 1891.

Waite Park is named for Henry C. Waite (note: the name Berlin was also considered for the town).  Waite was originally from New York, where he worked as a

1905 photo of Henry C. Waite

lawyer.  Traveling west, he partnered in a law firm in Madison, Wisconsin.  But, the business was unsuccessful and Waite lost his standing as a lawyer.  He came to Sauk Rapids in 1855 and met a land developer who convinced him to purchase land in St. Cloud.  His parents came to join him here and together they bought a squatter’s claim on the Sauk River, near where the V.A. Hospital is today.

Official papers incorporating the Village of Waite Park were filed at 4:00 pm on March 20, 1893.  25 families were living in Waite Park at the time.  The first village council meeting was held on April 17, 1893.  A story that appeared in the St. Cloud Journal Press a couple of weeks later described the village in this way: “Waite Park is certainly destined to become a most popular suburban city, and no one not familiar with the amount of progress which is constantly going on there can comprehend the healthy growth this district in enjoying.”

Thanks to Sarah Warmka and the Stearns History Museum for their help with our series, “This Date In Central Minnesota History’.

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