History of the Beach

The history of the village, better known to its' residents as “The Beach”, is as colorful as it is long.  The following brief summary is, but, a little of the background of Minnetonka Beach.

The Beach history can be traced back as early as 1855, with records listing early settlers.  However, the Village was not officially opened for settlement until 1872.

The present area of the Village was surveyed, platted and named Minnetonka Beach in 1883.  At that time, an auction was held at the Old Hotel Lafayette, where prominent businessmen, including James J. Hill, paid then large amounts of money for plots of land – land that could not even be reached in the winter.

By 1879, Hill had chosen Minnetonka Beach as the site of the Great Northern Railroad’s first great summer resort, the soon-to-be famous Hotel Lafayette, which opened for Hill in 1882.

Construction of the first road through the Village in 1887, further insured the popularity of Minnetonka Beach as a resort area for the rich and famous of the time.

The Hotel Lafayette has played a significant part in the shaping of the history of The Beach, right from the time of its grand opening in 1882.  The early days were the glory days of the old Hotel Lafayette when formal dancing, military band concerts, and tennis were some of the activities at the beautiful hotel. 

In 1897 the Hotel Lafayette was destroyed by fire.  In 1889, the Minnetonka Club was incorporated at the site of the Hotel Lafayette.  Its name was later changed to the Lafayette Club.  The present club was erected in 1924, after a fire also destroyed the second building. 

The Village of Minnetonka Beach was incorporated in 1894, with a resident population of 209.   In 1922, by adoption of the present home rule charter, the Village was incorporated as a city of the fourth class.  Now, officially The City of the Village of Minnetonka Beach, the Beach remains one of the smallest incorporated cities in the State.  The population as of the 2000 Census was at 614, with 230 homes.

A boot-shaped peninsula jutting out into the center of the waters of Lake Minnetonka, the Village is comprised of a total area of some 296 acres, less than a half section of land.

The Beach recognized its centennial in 1994 with a week-long  celebration including a dinner dance with art auction, home tour, picnic, ice cream social, mail box decorating contest, and the village in bloom with centennial colors of blue, yellow and white.  An exquisite centennial quilt was hand sewn and hangs today in City Hall.