Commission marks rich history of Green Haven

The city of Anoka and its Heritage Preservation Commission are recognizing the role that Green Haven Golf Course has played in the community’s history.

Vickie Wendel of the Anoka County Historical Society explains some of the interesting history behind how Green Haven Golf Club was built.
Vickie Wendel of the Anoka County Historical Society explains some of the interesting history behind how Green Haven Golf Club was built.

The city-owned club is marking its 75th anniversary this golf season.

Green Haven joins several other locations, including Sandburg School and Rice Street Beach, which have their histories on display for the community with a special plaque courtesy of the HPC.

Green Haven was first built as a nine-hole, par 32 course in 1937. The community clubhouse was opened in August of 1937, shortly after the opening of the course.

According to a 1937 newspaper article, “Green Haven is a community center, a recreational headquarters for the community.”

While some of the original signage at Green Haven is marked with 1939, Vickie Wendel of the Anoka County Historical Society could not find any evidence of why this date was commemorated on a plaque that still sits on the south chimney of the clubhouse.

According to Wendel, construction was under way in 1936 and people were playing golf at Green Haven in 1937.

The course was named Green Haven by Clara Wickstrom, whose suggestion was selected as a winner in a contest.

But Wendel said that name wasn’t without controversy. Anoka’s Commercial Club objected because the organization felt it didn’t promote Anoka well enough and gave the impression of being exclusive.

But a petition by the Commercial Club was unsuccessful and the name stuck.

Green Haven was built as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project – part of a federal program designed to create jobs in the 1930s.

“There were some forward thinkers involved in getting Green Haven built as a WPA project,” said Wendel.

According to Wendel, these potential WPA projects needed to be “shovel ready,” which Green Haven was. The city of Anoka had voted to buy the land and build the golf course in February of 1935.

“So when the first federal dollars from the WPA program reached Minnesota, Anoka’s golf course was ready to go,” said Wendel.

Between 1935 when WPA was established and its end in 1943, WPA employed 8.5 million people who worked on 141,000 projects that totaled $11 billion.

These federally funded initiatives were more than just construction projects. Wendel’s research showed WPA also funded writing, theater and arts projects.

Other well-known Minnesota attractions built by WPA include the Carlos Avery Game Farm in Anoka County, as well as the Como Zoo, Itasca State Park, Harriet Island Pavilion and Highway 100.

According to the HPC, a secondary clubhouse at the Green Haven Gun Club was built in 1938 and remained in use until the course’s expansion to 18 holes in 1958 when the gun club moved.

This was located at the current site of the 18th fairway.

Mandy Moran Froemming is at [email protected]