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Why Chaska? - Steve Mueller

Chaska Historical Society member Steve Mueller has devoted several months of nostalgic effort to bring answers to the question posed by the “Why Chaska?” exhibit at the History Center. Steve’s contribution focused on “Why Jonathan in Chaska?”, and he was uniquely qualified to distill over 50 years of history. Beginning in his architecture courses while in college, Steve was learning about Jonathan while bulldozers were still at work weaving Jonathan into the area’s hills, forests and valleys.

To bring details to light for the exhibit, Steve used all the resources available at the History Center – such as the collections of photographs, local newspapers and publications about Jonathan amassed over 5 decades. Additionally, because the Jonathan Association was aware of the historic significance of their development, they fortunately took action to preserve history. Thorough document files, magazine coverage and interviews were recorded on DVDs when that technology was available. Steve Mueller reviewed a set of 6 discs filled with the recollections of Jonathan’s beginnings by those who built it. One of Steve’s favorite moments during his research was watching an interview with Jules Smith – who led the team that interacted with the original farm-holders, acquired the land for the development and worked with the city of Chaska.

Watching the DVDs took Steve back to his earliest interactions with the architect Ben Cunningham and hearing the vision of MN Senator Henry McKnight. Steve and his wife bought their home in 1971, raised their family, and Steve went on to a 50 -year career as an architect.

Steve organized this part of the “Why Chaska?” exhibit into five sections:

· Jonathan – the futuristic new town.

· Jonathan – preserving the natural environment.

· Jonathan – plan for people to grow with families.

· Jonathan – an incubator for ideas.

· Jonathan – selling the dream and the concept.

He looks forward to viewing the Virtual Exhibit when it is finished, and hopes all of Chaska can appreciate how fortunate we are that our community can answer the question of “Why Jonathan in Chaska?”

By Neil Wingert for the Chaska Historical Society


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