City Square Park
City Square in Chaska has always been a gathering place and the heart of this community. The land was set aside for public purpose in 1852 in the original plat. Early settlers in Chaska found six earthen mounds on this site built by persons known as the Mound Builders, who preceded the Dakota Indians. Originally there were six circular mounds variously thought to be for protection, burial, or worship. Some were removed in creating streets, but the remainder of these are still visible. These mounds indicate the immediate area was inhabited before 1769, the year in which Chaska's recorded history begins. "The Park," as it has been known to generations of Chaskans, has been the scene of weekly summer band concerts, Memorial Day programs, and community celebrations. A bandstand of some sort has stood in the center of the Square since 1889. The present gazebo was built in 1985 as part of an extensive park improvement project.
Carver County was established in 1855 and was named for Jonathon Carver who explored this area in 1767/1768. In the 1856 election, Chaska became the county seat. In 1857, Shaska Co. donated six lots (northwest corner of Third and Chestnut) for county offices. In 1858, work began on the Carver County Courthouse which served the county until its demolition in 1965. A scaffold was built on the Courthouse/Jail property in 1902 for Carver County's only hanging. A new County Government Center, four blocks to the east on Beech Street, replaced the old Courthouse in 1965.
Original City Hall / Fire Station
A fire station was erected in 1883 on Third Street between Chestnut and Walnut, a 60 foot hose tower rose above it. The second floor of the Chaska brick building held City Hall chambers and the office of the City Clerk, making it the first City Hall.
Joseph Ess, a successful wagon maker and blacksmith, founded the Chaska Foundry and Machine Shop in 1886 at the southeast corner of Third and Walnut. The eleven brick manufacturers then in Chaska needed the foundry for repairing and equipping their brick machines. Soap kettles, sleighs, iron fencing, and manhole covers were also produced by Ess bros. and sons. The business remained in the Ess family for over 100 years. In 1987 the foundry was demolished and replaced by Town Square Apartments.
Highlights of Chaska History
· Dakota Indians inhabited this part of the Big Woods.
· Fur traders occupied this area as early as the 1760's.
· Canoeing up the Minnesota River in 1851, Thomas Andrew Holmes established the Chaska townsite. "Chaska" generally was the name given to first-born males in a Dakota family.
· Chaska settlement began in the mid-1850's with immigrants coming primarily from Germany. Many opened businesses; others settled on rich farm land. Chaska became a trade, service and government center.
· Early industries developed from natural resources such as cutting timber and mining clay for bricks. Processing agricultural products - beet sugar, corn, peas, tomatoes, sauerkraut and flour - was the basis of Chaska's economy for decades.
· Until the 1960's Chaska's population averaged 2,000, its nature remaining unchanged. Then expansion of the metropolitan area led to new land, jobs, and residents.
· Industrial parks in northern Chaska are home to dozens of industries, most serving national and international markets.
· While transition and growth continue, city government and residents work together to ensure preservation of a rich heritage and Chaska's small town sense of community.
C.P. Klein Mansion
Christian P. Klein, one of the Klein Brothers identified with brick and banking businesses, built his home at Fourth and Walnut in 1911. The City acquired the property in 1967 and it served as the Chaska City Hall until 1988.
C.H. Klein Mansion
Charles H. Klein became one of Chaska's most widely known citizens through success in brick and banking businesses and through public service. The latter included 20 years as school board chairman and as a state legislator from 1903-1912. He built the house on the east side of Walnut between Third and Fourth Streets in 1910. After his death, the Klein family donated the facility for public use. It was the City Library from 1967-1988.
Park School - City Hall
A Moravian academy was located at the northeast corner of Fourth and Chestnut from 1864 to 1870. In 1893, the public school district demolished the academy and built a three story brick building called the Park School. It housed elementary and some high school classes until 1932 when students relocated to a school on Ash Street. Park School then served as Chaska's City Hall/Library/Fire Station until 1967 when it was razed. City Hall was relocated to the C.P. Klein house at Fourth and Walnut and the fire station returned to its original Third Street site.
Chaska Moravian Church
Several Moravian families from Western Pennsylvania came to Chaska in 1858 and established the town's first congregation known as the Chaska Moravian Church. The present church, located at the northwest corner of Fourth and Walnut, was built in 1889 and other than an addition to the west side, the building is the same.