“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Eagan in Dakota County, Minnesota — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)

1914 Eagan Old Town Hall

1914 Eagan Old Town Hall marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By McGhiever, June 18, 2021
1. 1914 Eagan Old Town Hall marker
Inscription.  The Eagan Town Hall has stood here at the corner of Pilot Knob and Wescott Road since 1914. Eagan's oldest surviving government building cost $1,047 to construct.

The site was chosen by the Town Board because it was as close as possible to the center of the Township. Approximately 1/3 of an acre was purchased from Michael Englert.

This building served as the location for the Township meetings, elections and other gatherings until 1965. Court proceedings were overseen by the Justice of the Peace and the Town Constable.

Even into the 1950s and 1960s, a wood burning pot bellied stove heated the building. Ten rows of unpainted 12-foot plank benches served as seating for the residents of Eagan at meetings. Everyone present at the meeting had a vote, by a show of hands, on the budget and the operations of Eagan Township. Evidence suggests women in Eagan had local voting rights before statewide suffrage. Townspeople cast their ballots in eight election voting booths. Flour sacks served as privacy curtains. A narrow shelf built into each partition provided just enough space to mark a ballot with pencils tethered
1914 Eagan Old Town Hall and marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By McGhiever, June 18, 2021
2. 1914 Eagan Old Town Hall and marker
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to the back wall.

After a new City Hall was built in 1965, across the road to the north, this building was equipped with a garage door so it could be used to house street maintenance equipment. However, the original front windows and door as well as original wood flooring were retained.

A leaking roof and peeling paint led to talk of tearing down the old Town Hall in the 1970s, before residents stepped in to save it. Then in 1988, a project to widen Pilot Knob Road left the Town Hall too close to the road. The Town Hall was moved back 100 feet at a cost of $10,500.

In 1990, the City of Eagan received a "Celebrate Minnesota Grant" of $7,500 from the State. That money, coupled with a donation of $17,500 and labor from the Eagan Rotary Club, was used to refurbish the Town Hall. The renovation was supervised by Ted Wachter, Historical Society Chair and longtime Councilmember (serving from 1972-1988).

The Eagan Historical Society continues to invite the public to view Eagan's rich history—your history—here at the 1914 Town Hall

When the story is told of what one individual can mean to his community, there will most certainly be a chapter devoted to Eagan's first City Administrator, Tom Hedges.

When Tom and his wife Debbie arrived in 1976, Eagan's population was 16,000 residents with 40 city
1914 Eagan Old Town Hall image. Click for full size.
Photographed By McGhiever, June 18, 2021
3. 1914 Eagan Old Town Hall
employees. The city grew to 65,000 residents in the nearly 37 years Tom served—more than a fourfold increase. To keep pace with the significant growth, Eagan's professional staff grew to more than 235 employees.

Hedges' imprint on Eagan was such that major corporations chose to locate here. He offered tours. He championed Eagan's advantages. He formed lifelong relationships. He was true to his word.

In appreciation, John Nasseff, one of the senior executives of West Publishing, and his wife Helene Houle, decided in 2016 to donate funding for the Tom Hedges Plaza at Eagan Town Hall.

Tom Hedges will be known for guiding the transformation of Eagan from a rural township to the city it would become. He oversaw tremendous growth in Eagan in the 1980s and 1990s.

By 2006, and still during Hedges' tenure, Eagan was regularly being named as one of the best small cities in America in which to live.

Hedges mentored more than 40 people who went on to become city managers or department directors. He served 13 different City Councils and eight mayors. For 3½ decades Tom helped foster the city we are today. Tom Hedges Day was proclaimed on May 11, 2001 in honor of his being named the City Manager of the Year in Minnesota, just one of his many awards. Hedges retired in 2013 after more than 1,600 City Council meetings.
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Known for his approachability and interacting well with people, it is appropriate that there is now a Tom Hedges Plaza honoring his lasting contributions. May this space be a gathering place to celebrate Eagan's continuing story.

The Eagan Historical Society operates this building as its museum and displays hundreds of artifacts, memorabilia, photos and other material to teach and preserve the ongoing history of Eagan. This Historical Society conducts tours, events and hosts open houses for the public. School groups and scout troops are frequent visitors here to learn about their hometown's past.

In the early morning hours of September 8, 2013, arsonists set fire to the historic Town Hall. Police officers coming off duty spotted the fire. The Eagan Fire Department immediately responded. Thanks to their quick actions, the building and many of its irreplaceable contents were saved from total destruction. After the fire was out, and despite the threat of a roof collapse, firefighters carried out all the history displays, benches and furnishings that could be salvaged, a majority of the original collection.

Following an extensive two-year restoration process in which the roof structure was replaced and all of the interior surfaces were taken offsite and treated for smoke removal, the 1914 Town Hall has been restored. During the
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process, the original interior and exterior paint colors were unearthed and returned. The shingled roof was replaced with (fire resistant) cedar shakes and all of the trim and molding was cleaned and refurbished to the finish it would have had in 1914.

Caption: Town Board Supervisor, Herb Polzin (later Eagan's first Mayor) gavels a Township meeting to order in the late 1950s at the Town Hall. Seated to his left with his hand raised is Town Clerk August Rahn. The original voting booths with flour-sack curtains can be seen behind them.

The photos at right show Eagan citizens in attendance at the same Town Board meeting. The pot-bellied stove which heated the Town Hall is still in place today.

Caption: In December, 2016, Mayor Mike Maguire (left) and donors John Nasseff and Helene Houle (left and right of Tom Hedges) join him in a ceremonial groundbreaking for the Tom Hedges Plaza at the 1914 Town Hall.
Erected by Eagen Historical Society.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Government & Politics. A significant historical year for this entry is 1914.
Location. 44° 49.115′ N, 93° 10.053′ W. Marker is in Eagan, Minnesota, in Dakota County. Marker is at the intersection of Pilot Knob Road and Wescott Road, on the right when traveling south on Pilot Knob Road. Marker faces a small parking lot on the north side of the building. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 3805 Pilot Knob Rd, Saint Paul MN 55122, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 5 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Mendota Work Camp No. 1 (approx. 3.6 miles away); A Bridge to the Past (approx. 3.8 miles away); Pilot Knob (approx. 4.1 miles away); United States War Veterans Memorial (approx. 4.2 miles away); Rodney J. Putz (approx. 4.2 miles away); 1st Infantry Division (approx. 4.2 miles away); Four Marine Raider Battalions Memorial (approx. 4.2 miles away); Fourth Marine Division Memorial (approx. 4.3 miles away).
Credits. This page was last revised on July 26, 2021. It was originally submitted on July 25, 2021, by McGhiever of St Paul, Minnesota. This page has been viewed 143 times since then and 16 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on July 25, 2021, by McGhiever of St Paul, Minnesota. • Mark Hilton was the editor who published this page.

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Mar. 30, 2023