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Earle Brown

Earle Brown Farm Significant in City History

Information reprinted from 1986 Brooklyn Center Sun-Post supplement.

The Earle Brown Farm, which sits in the heart of Brooklyn Center, is historically significant for many reasons. The farm was an early settlement, landmark, the location of some government functions and the site of the old Cap Martin School.

Used for pilot training during World War I, the Earle Brown Farm was the first airfield in Minnesota and later the training ground for Minnesota Highway Patrol, founded by Earle Brown.

The first legal action to create the Village of Brooklyn Center from parts of Crystal Lake and Brooklyn Townships took place on the farm on Jan. 16, 1911.

IN 1949 Earle Brown gave approximately 750 acres to the University of Minnesota with the stipulation that he live there until his death. Before he died in 1963 at the age of 83, he released about 300 acres to the University for a model community planned by University architects – the area know as Garden City. Monies received by the University from the sale of the farm in 1965 were used to build the Earle Brown Continuing Education Center on the St. Paul Campus.

For many years the farm was a showplace, its buildings painted bright red with white trim surrounded by a white 
fence. Belgian horses and white-faced steers grazed in the pasture. 

In the early 1960’s, the Village of Brooklyn Center had a planning study made of the farm and zoned areas as commercial, industrial and residential. The rezoning has stood the test of time. Today, the area is a thriving commercial and industrial center as well as the site of the Brooklyn Center City Hall and Community Center, a high rise for senior citizens and the Hennepin County service building.

DEIL GUSTAFSON, who lived in Earle Brown’s former home, sold the 14 acres on which the historic buildings stand to the City of Brooklyn Center in July of 1985. The buildings are on the list of Minnesota Historic Sites.

One of the goals of the Brooklyn Historical Society, founded in 1970, is to preserve and record part of the beauty and significance of the Earle Brown Farm, and this is becoming a reality.

The city council appointed an ad hoc committee two years ago to give advice on what should be done with the historic buildings. A structural study of the buildings was made, and a survey was recently mailed to 5,000 selected households, those 55 and older in Brooklyn Center and surrounding suburbs, to get input on the feasibility of a senior service center complex on the farm. Also proposed on Farm property are two high rise apartment buildings for older citizens.