The present City of Falcon Heights originally was contained within the boundaries of the old Rose Township, which also included the cities of Lauderdale and Roseville, as well as sections of St. Paul, Minneapolis and St. Anthony.
Settlement of the area began as early as 1843, six years before Minnesota became an official territory. Credit for the first settlement is generally granted to Stephen Desnoyer, who established his home on the banks of the Mississippi River near the present site of the Town and Country Golf Course. The family of Isaac Rose also settled in the area in 1843. Rose Township was named after Isaac Rose as a reward for his assistance in the federal land survey of 1850.
Soon to follow the Rose family in settlement was Heman Gibbs, who established his home on a land grant west of Cleveland Avenue, and north and south of Larpenteur. In his home, Gibbs established the first school in Rose Township. The school remained in service until 1959, one of the longest periods of use in the state’s history.
The original sod house built by Heman Gibbs is no longer standing, but the second house built for the family in 1854 still remains on the site. The Ramsey County Historical Society purchased the Gibbs’ farm in 1949, and operates it as a museum, while the homestead itself is listed on the National Register as a designated historical site.
In 1859, one year after Minnesota was granted Statehood, Rose Township organized a voting precinct, and with all 22 legal voters present, town officers were duly elected and taxes were levied for the coming year. Nearly half of the original Rose Township was absorbed by St. Paul in 1881. Of the remaining area, the first urban area to arise was Rosehill, now known as Lauderdale.
It was in the 1930’s, that the area known as Falcon Heights received its name. The secretary of Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company (3M), John Cable, owned a larger parcel of land in the present City. Cable made plans to plat the area with his real estate agent, a gentleman named Faulkner, who named the development after himself. The Keller Corporations bought the land owned by Cable in 1936. They retained the name of the development, Falcon Heights, completed the platting, and constructed the first house in 1937.
In the early 1940’s, retail business construction began in the area, with development centering on the intersection of Snelling and Larpenteur and on Hamline between Hoyt and Iowa. At one time, a small airfield occupied one of the fields near Snelling and Larpenteur. The city park that now occupies the site is named after the airport, Curtiss Field.
With the incorporation of Roseville in 1948, and the continued development of the area, the residents were faced with a choice regarding the form of government they desired to serve their needs. On April 1, 1949, by a vote of 5 to 1, the citizens rejected petitioning either Roseville or St. Paul for annexation, and chose instead to establish their own independent village government.
The incorporation of the Village of Falcon Heights brought in all of the remaining unincorporated areas of Rose Township, including the State Fairgrounds, University of Minnesota Campus Golf Course, and Test Fields. These public lands comprise two-thirds of the total land area in our City.
In 1973, the State Legislature mandated a change in municipal government from Village to City. The following year the Village of Falcon Heights officially became the City of Falcon Heights. Some longtime residents still call it "The Village."
Residential development began in Falcon Heights in the 1920s, mostly southeast of the Snelling/Larpenteur crossroads and along the main roads north of Larpenteur. After World War II the fields northeast of Snelling/Larpenteur of Larpenteur were rapidly developed into a grassy suburb typical of the era.
The University of Minnesota, north of Hoyt Street and west of Cleveland Avenue created University Grove, one of the Twin Cities’ most unique neighborhoods. The homes, each individually designed and built, were intended to provide convenient, affordable housing for University faculty and staff.
Homebuilding spread west of Larpenteur in the 1960s and 1970s, filling up the remaining pockets of land not owned by the University of Minnesota. The newest developments - Maple Court, Questwood, and 1666 Coffman - follow the townhome or condominium model, reflecting the scarcity of land in the inner suburbs and the need to fit more households into less space and provide life-stage housing for retired residents.
In 2003, the 50-year-old shopping center at the southeast corner of Snelling and Larpenteur was razed, and a new mixed-use development took its place. Falcon Heights Town Square includes an apartment building for senior citizens, a multi-family apartment building with retail businesses on the ground floor, and a cluster of 14 townhomes, adding over 170 households to Falcon Heights' population.
© John Lindig at farm, 1875 W. Larpenteur, Roseville Historical Society
© Whaley Resident at 1469 W. Idaho, July 17, 1942, Minnesota Historical Society
© Falcon Heights Fire Department at old station, 1664 Larpenteur, Jerry and Marilyn Baden