Minot’s earlier days

Minot’s Roosevelt Park and Zoo has changed considerably since its early days.

Lucille Parker, who is 91 and has lived in Minot for more than 70 years, shared with The Minot Daily News some of her early-day Parker family photos that were taken when family members were riding horseback at Roosevelt Park and Zoo in 1926.

A few months ago she shared other photos of Minot in its early days. The story and photos were published in January and included Main Street and the Leland-Parker Hotel, now the location of the new Artspace housing and retail complex.

Lucille and Bill Parker, grandson of Clarence Parker, a prominent Minot businessman and area rancher, were married in the late 1940s and lived in the Leland-Parker Hotel when they were first married. Bill Parker’s mother, Esther Parker, was the only daughter of Clarence Parker.

The Parker family photos at Roosevelt Park and Zoo are of Clarence, Esther and Bill Parker and an unknown individual.

In the background can be seen the bear castle, a representation of an ancient castle ruin serving a double purpose a home for the bears and an attractive landscape feature of Roosevelt Park.

The statue of Teddy Roosevelt is shown in the background of some of the Parker family photos. The statue at that time was located next to the zoological building

having been moved to its present location following the flood years of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Lucille Parker said Clarence Parker raised and also raced horses. “Clarence was really the horseman. You always saw him with cowboy boots and a western hat,” she said. The Parker family owned and operated hotels in Minot including the Clarence Parker Hotel, which is now home to the Parker Suites and the Minot Commission on Aging.

Minot’s Roosevelt Park didn’t just grow, it was planned, according to a March 1958 story in The Minot Daily News.

On Oct. 3, 1911, the first park board gathered, elected officers and by Nov. 7 of that year had engaged the services of Phelps Wyman, a landscape architect from Milwaukee, hired to lay out the system. Wyman had designed park systems for the cities of Minneapolis and Milwaukee.

In a later story, the newspaper said property owners were called in and negotiations were started to acquire what is known as Roosevelt and Oak Parks. The land was on the outskirts of the city at the time. In 1913, the Park District of the City of Minot was created and included Roosevelt, Oak and Lincoln Parks. Lincoln had been deeded to the city in 1911.

A 1927 Minot Parks souvenir book said the zoo had several families of monkeys, buffalo, elk, deer, African lions, mountain lions, kangaroos, bobcats, raccoons, lynx, coati, badgers, foxes, guinea pigs, 21 kinds of wild ducks, eagles, silver black foxes, flying squirrels, swans, alligator, pheasants, talking parrots, cockatoos and others.

Dr. Henry Waldo Coe, a North Dakota pioneer in medicine and personal friend of Teddy Roosevelt, donated the equestrian statue of TR which has stood in Roosevelt Park since 1924. It was at that time that Riverside Park was renamed in honor of Teddy Roosevelt.