Mid-Century Minnesota Modernism… SUBURBIA and the first indoor shopping mall

What to do when it's too COLD to play outside?!  Museums are always an option, and the Minnesota History Center's current SUBURBIA exhibit includes the revolutionary birth of the indoor shopping mall which was created right here in the Twin Cities. It makes me wonder if the idea wasn't inspired by a string of sub-zero days like we have had lately!


Mid-century modernism has become a prized 'retro' look, and ramblers are hip again… both with the young and stylish and with those looking ahead to age in place. While many people today associate mid-century modern style with architect-designed homes such as those in University Grove, the modest 3-bedroom 1950's rambler is also a product of mid-century modernism.

More than just a style, mid-century modernism was a whole new way of living that was a break from the past. Style emphasized simplicity and functionality, and was born partly because of the enormous demand for housing following World War II. It was also partly influenced by wartime innovations which included prefabricated elements which allowed building at astonishing speed. The creation of suburban communities with streets lined with new 3-bedroom ramblers popped up seemingly overnight.

Suburban ramblers

Simplicity also meant building was more affordable… which is part of the reason the iconic Christ Church Lutheran designed by Eliel and Eero Saarinen was built… the congregation couldn't afford to build a more traditional gothic style church building which was popular at that time.

This was the time of the station wagon, TV dinners, martinis, bridge and pink flamingos. I love the refrigerator/freezers that were essentially upper kitchen cabinets… have seen a few in classic mid-century homes but not many remain.


Minnesota's real claim to fame in mid-century suburbanism, however, was the birth of the shopping mall. When Victor Gruen designed Edina's Southdale Shopping Center  he envisioned it as a city center… a place where people would gather… even when it is cold outside!


Looking for family activities? Check out FAMILY DAYS at both the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul and at Mill City Museum in Minneapolis.

Sharlene Hensrud, RE/MAX Results

HomesMSP Team SharleneJohnAngelaTwin Cities Realtors


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I love what I do! Highly insightful, analytical and creative, there is nothing I love more than helping you find the right solution for your real estate transition. My mission is to serve my clients with honesty and integrity, exceeding their expectations in service and support… and to help others by donating a portion of every transaction to Habitat for Humanity.

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