The largest park in the Minneapolis system started in 1889 with 64 acres. Called Glenwood in 1890, it was renamed in honor of Superintendent Theodore Wirth in 1938. In 1907-09, 500 acres were added to the northwest, stretching into Golden Valley and including Keegan’s Lake. Park expansion continued through the 1950s, reaching 759 acres.
Although the first parkway was laid out in 1890 as a link in the Grand Rounds system, today’s picturesque parkway, winding through wetlands, forests, and prairie dotted with mature oak trees, was built in 1910 to Wirth’s designs. Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary was established in 1907, across from the five-acre Quaking Bog, and the park board’s nursery moved to Glenwood in 1909. A nine-hole public golf course with sand greens and clay tees (1916) and an expansion to eighteen holes (1919) were designed by William D. Clark. The Swiss Chalet-style clubhouse, inspired by Wirth’s homeland, was built in 1922. Between 1933-35, Civilian Conservation Corps laborers seeded the golf course’s greens with grass and shaped parts of Bassett’s Creek into ponds. The original golf course was modified several times, and a Par 3 course and shelter were added in 1962. The courses accommodate cross-country ski trails in the winter. The City of Lakes Loppet cross-country ski race, first run in 2002, is based in the park. The Loppet Foundation expanded silent sports recreation within the park and is headquartered in the Trailhead Building, erected south of the Chalet in 2018. An extensive network of off-road cycling trails opened in 2005.