Much of St. Louis Park’s early history has to do with its so-called “dirty industry”: lead, lithium, sand and gravel, and, of course, creosote. But counteracting all these foul-smelling places was an amazing number of nurseries. Even during the rough-and-tumble days of the old Excelsior Boulevard, there were five nurseries on what was dubbed “nursery and greenhouse row.”
The largest of these growing operations was the Ruedlinger Nursery, located way out in the country in Oak Hill. In the photo above, the original Ruedlinger home faces Texas, with Highway 7 slanting to the west.
Swiss-born Conrad Nicholas Ruedlinger first worked as a gardener at a private estate in New York and then in the Connecticut Parks Department. He came to Minneapolis in 1906 and started his own nursery at Colfax Avenue and West Lake Street. He expanded to St. Louis Park in about 1910.
Sons Art and Rudy carried on the business after C.R. died in 1933, consolidating it at the St. Louis Park site of Cedar Hill in 1939. A railroad spur allowed boxcars of imported shrubs and stock to be shipped directly to the site. All tulip bulbs came directly from Holland.
During the Depression it was not easy supporting two families in the nursery business, since landscaping was only an option for the wealthy. After World War II, much of the farmland around the nursery was sold off for housing. Across Texas, Knollwood Plaza Shopping Center was built in 1955. The Ruedlingers sold the nursery land and in 1952, they opened a new garden store.
The Ruedlingers eventually turned the garden store into a liquor store, and sold it to the Ralles family in 1967. Today we know it as Knollwood Liquors.