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In 1922 The Minneapolis Park Board purchased a large tract of land just north of Lake Nokomis to become the 241-acre Lake Hiawatha Park, with 140 acres intended for a golf course. Park superintendent Theodore Wirth initiated plans for the course in 1924 but it was not until 1929 that dredging started to improve Lake Hiawatha. The all-grass 140-acre course was designed by William D. Clark. The dredged material was used to build up rolling terrain to the west for the golf course. The architectural firm Stravs, Dorr, Bersbeck and Chapin designed the Tudor Revival clubhouse, built in 1932-1933. The course’s first nine holes opened in 1934 and the final nine holes the next season.
Federal relief workers stabilized the lakeshore with stone walls in 1939. The golf course began having drainage and other issues as the fill settled. The park board attempted to address this by remodeling the front nine holes in 1993 and the back nine in 1999, but problems persisted.
Located adjacent to the African American neighborhood known as Bronzeville, Hiawatha allowed African American golfers to play in 1930s, though the clubhouse remained segregated until a 1952 effort by Black golfer Solomon Hughes, Sr. succeeded in fully integrating the facility. The honorary mayor of Bronzeville, Jimmy Slemmons, started the Minnesota Negro Open Golf Tournament in 1939. In 1954 the tournament was renamed the Upper Midwest Bronze Amateur Open, known colloquially as “The Bronze,” to reflect its unrestricted entry policy. First based at Armour (now Gross) and Wirth Park golf courses, the tournament moved to Hiawatha in 1968, drawing as many as 300 participants. Despite facing flooding challenges, the historic golf course remains popular and continues to foster a diverse community of golfers in Minneapolis.