Munsinger Gardens and the Clemens Gardens

Munsinger Gardens and Clemens Gardens are two distinct, adjacent gardens on the banks of the Mississippi River northwest of the intersection of University Drive and Kilian Blvd near SCSU. Both showcasing the most beautiful parts of a Minnesota summer,

Munsinger Gardens on the lower east bank of the Mississippi River was originally the H.J. Anderson sawmill during the 1880s.  The low river banks made this site ideal for the sawmill. In 1915, the City of St. Cloud acquired Riverside Park and what was to become Munsinger Gardens.  Joesph Munsinger, the first Park Superintendent for the City of St. Cloud, was the catalyst for Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration involvement. His passion led to the Park Department’s first greenhouse. The city named the “flower part of Riverside Park” for Munsinger in 1938.

As for the garden on the top of the hill, it was created by a wealthy businessman by the name of Bill Clemens who lived across the street. Bill’s wife Virginia suffered from multiple sclerosis and drew comfort from the view of the gardens. Bill purchased what would become the Clemens Garden and donated it to the City of St. Cloud. He also donated the funding to create what is now the Virginia Clemens Rose Garden.  They donated millions to create a seven-acre European style park adjacent to the existing one, so Virginia would have an even better view from her window. Created in the tradition of the great gardens of Europe, the Formal Garden was the first of six. The others include the Rest Area Garden,  the White Garden, the Perennial Garden, the Treillage Garden and finally, the Virginia Clemens Rose Garden that was inspired by Mrs. Clemens great love of roses; her middle name was “Rose”.  A life-size statue of Virginia Clemens depicts her in her wheelchair with her husband behind her, his hand on her shoulder. The statue faces the nearby rose garden. Serving as an incredibly elaborate memorial, there are 1,100 roses including floribundas, tree roses, hybrid teas, shrub roses, and grandifloras. Notable mentions; the Renaissance Fountain (pictured) with Cranes, features a replica of a sculpture of Hebe, cupbearer to the gods.

The most colorful time to visit the gardens is usually the end of July, but they’re open from late May to late September.

Headed to Duluth: Your Must-Sees 

Hi there, Jessica here! I am headed up to Duluth, Minnesota for the weekend to bucket list and would love to see if there are places you think I need to stop! What are your favorite things to do in Duluth?

Tag some of your favorites and tell me what makes that restaurant, park, mural, roadside attraction, café, coffee shop, boutique, etc. so special.

You might just see them featured as I will be spending the next two weeks telling you all about some great places in Duluth! Want to see what I’ve already done? Click here!

Pictured: Gooseberry Falls State Park. Located on the North Shore just off Lake Superior, 40 miles NE of Duluth.

Sacred Heart Cemetery

If you’ve followed along since the beginning of the #mnbucketlist, you already know I have a deep appreciation for cemeteries. They hold an enormous amount of history and personal stories you can’t find anywhere else. Scott County has seven cemeteries in Belle Plaine; Mount Mariah (which I posted about a while back), Oakwood, St Peter and Paul, Transfiguration, Lutheran Home Cemetery, Union Hill and this one, Sacred Heart Cemetery. Part of the “Our Lady of the Prairie” Catholic parish.

Belle Plaine was founded in 1854 and in 1856 the first Catholic settlers, mostly Irish, began migrating to Belle Plaine. In 1860, the Belle Plaine Catholic Community decided to build a church.  This church was located in block 145 (Sacred Heart Church site) and was named St. Martin.  Later, St. Martin’s Catholic Church would become Sacred Heart Catholic Church. At this time, there were roughly 100 Catholic families living in Belle Plaine, mainly of Irish and German descent.

In 1868, the 40 families of German descent decided to split from the existing predominately Irish Catholic church and build their own church, one that would be spoken in their native language.  A new church located just south of the present church was built in 1871; the new church was dedicated on December 8, 1871, and was named for the Princes of the Apostles, Sts. Peter and Paul.

In 1972, the Archbishop Coadjutor of St. Paul and Minneapolis Archdiocese, Reverend Leo C. Byrne ordered Sacred Heart and St. Peter and Paul parishes to consolidate due to a shortage of priests.  It was decided that St. Peter and Paul Church would remain, as it had a rectory, grade school, and convent, and the Sacred Heart parish house was to be the home of presiding priest.

In 1988, the decision to dispose of the Sacred Heart church was made, and in March of 1989, the Church was torn down.

While the church is no longer there, the cemetery is a broodingly, beautiful reminder of those parishioners of yesteryear.

Anoka State Hospital 


When I say that Anoka is ”The Halloween Capital of the World”, its not just because of the fun parades or the inflatable pumpkins. Anoka carries a much more sinister past. Anoka State Hospital, also known as First State Asylum for the Insane, Anoka State Asylum and most recently Anoka-Metro Regional Treatment Center, Minnesota’s largest mental health hospital. After aggressively lobbying, Anoka’s asylum, built in a circle of cottages (one pictured here), opened its doors to its first 100 patients in 1900. Considered innovative at the time, housing and later treating mentally ill patients, the asylum ran for 99 years, using everything from leather restraints and straitjackets to lobotomies, electroshock therapy and hydrotherapy. It also served short term as a tuberculosis treatment center and a place for emotionally disturbed children and adolescents. The spookiness doesn’t end there. Patients often wandered off the hospital grounds into downtown Anoka. Starting fires, shoplifting and loitering, some female patients were lured off campus with alcohol and drugs and assaulted. It gets worse. In 1976, a patient escaped hospital grounds, broke into a nearby home and killed the homeowner. The facility closed in 1999, leaving the remnants of terrifying stories, personal accounts and unspeakable secrets and tragedies. Beneath the cottages are a network of tunnels that have since been forbidden. It is trespassing if you venture into them or the boarded cottages – I wouldn’t suggest it either. Those who have remiss about old wheelchairs pacing back and forth in the attics, distant footsteps, whispers, orbs and cold spots. After it closed, the state gave the buildings and grounds to Anoka County. It is now a 110-bed state psychiatric hospital, essentially a prison, housing the mentally ill and violent criminals. Further ties to Halloween? In 1949, Governor Luther Youngdahl visited the Asylum on Halloween night and, burned hundreds of leather restraints and straitjackets in effigy, in front of a crowd of more than 1,000 people.