City of Deephaven

Two Square Miles of Tranquility

Deephaven History

Hotel St. Louis
Hotel St. Louis

History of Deephaven

The City of Deephaven is a western suburb of the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, located in Western Hennepin County.  Deephaven covers an area of 2.3 square miles (or 1,440 acres) with an estimated population of 3,700.  It is essentially a residential city, with small commercial areas that primarily serves the local community.

Lake Minnetonka, which was called “Big Waters” by Native Americans, was first discovered by settlers from Fort Snelling in 1822 who paddled up Minnehaha Creek to discover its source.  By the end of the Civil War, southerners in great numbers began to vacation each summer in the Lake Minnetonka area. 

One of the earliest hotels built in the area was the Harrow Barding House, which was built at the present Walden Site in Deephaven Park. In 1879, Sir Charles Gibson, a prominent St. Louis attorney, bought the Walden property and built a resort hotel named the St. Louis overlooking what is now Carson’s Bay and St. Louis Bay. 

The Hotel St. Louis entertained an exclusive clientele of about 400 guests.  The hotel furnishings were elegant with marble-topped dressers and tables, rich draperies and plush carpeting.  Vacationers from all around the United States and Europe came to spend many summers on Lake Minnetonka.  The Minneapolis and St. Louis Railroad carried guests to the St. Louis Hotel and to the Keewaydin Hotel in Cottagewood. 

Tennis tournaments, first played at these hotels, later became an annual tradition at the Ward Burton estate.  Steamboats plied the lake and sailing flourished.  The Minnetonka Yacht Club was established in 1887 to accommodate the increasing demand for sailing.  Unfortunately, by the end of the century, fire destroyed both of Deephaven’s splendid hotels and Lake Minnetonka’s Gay Nineties era ended.

In 1900, 231 families who were permanent residents of the area, many of which had worked at the local hotels, adopted a charter to make Deephaven an incorporated village.  By World War I, the change from bustling resort to quiet community of lakeside homes was complete.

Walter Donald Douglas built a twenty-seven room estate in 1910 at the location of the former Hotel Saint Louis on the property Mr. Douglas named "Waldon".  Douglas perished in the Titanic disaster, however, Mahala Dutton–Douglas and her French maid Berthe Leroy were survivors. Mahala continued to live at her Waldon mansion until her death in 1945 at age 81. The Douglas family founded the Quaker Oats Company, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

In 1892, Carson’s Bay workmen were finishing the Hazen J. Burton residence, one of the first year-round homes in the area, when Mrs. Burton was asked by railway officials to name the new station on the   M & S Line (at the foot of Burton’s hill) and she thought of a favorite book she had brought with her from New England, titled Deephaven.

Although the story had nothing to do with Minnesota, the name seemed a happy choice for this area with its deep woods and protected bays.

Deephaven Village was incorporated on July 9, 1900. There were 231 permanent residents who adopted the charter of incorporation. The first mayor of Deephaven was Hazen J. Burton.

Deephaven’s goal for parks and open space speaks of an overall system which conserves natural resources, protects ecological sensitive areas, and fulfills the needs of the people of Deephaven. The total Deephaven park system contains approximately 76 acres.

Naturally, the City’s chief attraction is Lake Minnetonka with its three deep-cut bays bordering the city.  The points and peninsulas overlooking the lake provide some of the City’s most beautiful home sites, and the lake furnishes endless opportunities for year-round recreational activities. Summer fun is provided six public beaches and two city marinas, which accommodate approximately 312 boats ranging in size from slender canoes to luxurious powerboats and sailboats.

Deephaven’s recreational areas include public parks, which contain tennis courts, baseball fields, platform courts, playground equipment, basketball courts and walking trails. Hiking trails and bike paths connect many recreational areas. During the winter, the trails are utilized for cross-country skiing.

Deephaven is truly a haven when it comes to peaceful living and active recreation.

For additional history, please see the "Deephaven Historical Society" tab on the bottom left side of your screen.



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