About the Smith Douglas More House
A community gathering place for five generations of Eden Prairie residents, this house preserves a history of steady regional growth and defines a changing landscape.
Functioning Originally a stopover point for weary train passengers, the Smith Douglas More house has been a community gathering place since it was built in 1877. Located near the Minneapolis-St.Louis Railroad Eden Prairie Station, this home and its residents were central to Eden Prairie's post-settlement period growth.
FIVE GENERATIONS OF HISTORY & HERITAGE
Sheldon and Mary Smith Sheldon Smith was born in 1831 and built this house with his wife, Mary in 1877. The house was a welcome overnight stop for arriving train passengers who stayed at the home before continuing their travels by train or overland by wagon. The Smiths also boarded several of the area's teachers and ran a working farm on the property. Sheldon and Mary raised their family-three daughters- in Eden Prairie. Ettie, the youngest daughter, dies of tuberculosis when she was only 16 years old in 1881. The Smith's first daughter, Netta, died in 1861 at age three.
As depot agent at the Minneapolis-St.Louis Railroad Eden Prairie Station, it was important to Sheldon to encourage the area's growth and development, Over his lifetime, a creamery, grain elevator, livestock loading pen, pickle factory, and Miller's general store all sprung up around his home.
Amie (Smith) and David Frank Douglas In 1890, Amie married a local teacher and a boarder at her parent's home, David Frank Douglas. They moved to Montana, where David had purchased land and obtained a teaching job. Amie and David had two children, but in a matter of a few short years, Amie was to lose her first child, her husband and both her parents.
Amie returned to the Smith homestead around 1897 with her son, Sheldon Douglas. Over the next 50 years, Amie became a respected community leader. She expanded the Smith homestead and continued to operate the farm.
Sheldon was among the first residents of Eden Prairie to gain a college education and eventually became the chairman of Eden Prairie school board during the 1920's.
When Amie Smith-Douglas died in 1950, she lived in this home for more than 65 years. The home was sold in 1952 to Earl and Helen More, who added electrical service and indoor plumbing, but otherwise preserved the home's original character. Earl installed some of his own stained-glass artwork, which still survived in the home's bay windows today. The Mores also planted numerous perennials on the property, many of which still survive today. As avid gardeners, the Mores were known for planting showy flowers and many hostas. The Mores were also instrumental in preserving on of the home's original grapevines, now more than 100 years old.
RAINTWATER GARDENS- REDUCING THE IMPACT OF CONTINUED GROWTH
As the area has grown and developed, Eden Prairie's landscape has changed from predominantly agricultural to residential, industrial, and commercial. In Eden Prairie, as in most of Minnesota, this changing landscape is impacting one of our most vital natural resources-water. At one time, the majority of rainwater and snowmelt on this property soaked into the land giving sustenance to growing crops. Now, a large percentage of this land is covered by hard surfaces such as roads, parking lots, roofs, and driveways, which prevent water from soaking into the ground. Instead, the water runs off these surfaces, down storm sewers, and directly into nearby creeks and lakes.
In 2004, the City of Eden Prairie partnered with the Riley-Purgatory-Bluff Creek Watershed District to install Eden Prairie's first rainwater garden. The rainwater garden is a unique and innovative way of helping this home and its land return to its historic roots.
The garden, located just off the driveway, is designed to collect and use the rainwaer and snowmelt that runs off the parking lot, driveway, and other nearby hard surfaces. Filled with native vegetation and perennials, the garden works to infiltrate the wtaer back into the ground rather than funneling it down storm sewers where it would eventually enter Red Rock Lake.
The driveway and parking lot are designed to guide runoff to the rainwater garden, which includes rustic features such as the fieldstone retaining wall to enhance the home's historic character. To facilitate infiltration and support vegetation, soils in the bottom of the garden were amended with compost and sand. Marsh milkweed, switchgrass, mountain mint, and prairie cordgrass are among the plants that fill the garden attracting birds and butterflies.