Greenhouses and Cabbage Fires
By Frank Gilbertson, Maplewood Heritage Preservation Commissioner
Maplewood values residential gardens, community gardens, and greenhouses. The latter have provided citizens with a means of self-sufficiency and several have transformed into thriving local businesses. Dege’s Greenhouse was in St. Paul in 1936 and moved to Maplewood in the 1940’s. Gerten’s Greenhouse began near Highway 61 and 36 and moved to Inver Grove Heights in the 1920’s. Bender &
Waldo Luebben started a nursery on the south end of Keller Lake in 1937 and grew a great variety of trees, many from seed. When he became the first mayor of Maplewood in 1957, he promoted the Schwedler Norway Maple as the official tree. The Schwedler was noted for having red leaves in springtime that turned dark green in late summer. In 1972, Luebben sold his 8-acre nursery to Ramsey County as part of its Open Space program with the hope it would become a “pocket arboretum” with the house serving as a classroom and paths through the trees that would be labeled. But when he passed away two years later, the house was demolished and the arboretum was never developed.
The Dean family, of Dean’s Tavern tradition, also had a greenhouse business. James Dean III recalled his days working in the greenhouses where up to 35,000 geraniums, 8,000 carnations, 5,000 roses, as well as cabbages and beans, were grown. The greenhouses were kept warm in winter via