If you’ve been to Anoka, Minnesota, you might have seen this stone structure in the Rum River and wondered what the heck it was. It’s hard to believe now, but this area just outside of downtown Anoka used to be the location of a whimsical garden on Thaddeus Giddings property. Around the turn of the twentieth century, Thaddeus built a home on present-day Ferry Street just north of the confluence of the Mississippi and Rum Rivers.
Without a doubt, the area must have felt like being out in the wilderness. Thaddeus wanted to change that and build a unique space where he and his family could enjoy the river. His plan slowly turned into a terraced and elaborately landscaped garden along the hillside of the Rum River. Along the shoreline, a whimsical rock garden was built with a stone bridge to an island in the river. The rock garden continued onto the island where three stone structures called igloos by the family, were the focal point. If you stand on the shoreline today, you can feel the cool breeze off the river that would surely provide relief from the heat on warm summer evenings.
Today, we see one of those stone igloos; the river has claimed the other two. It’s been battered by the river for a century or more, freezing and thawing each year. For a while, it looked like the river would claim it, too. But the city of Anoka stepped in to stabilize it and replace some of the missing stones. Many residents hope it can be completely restored and preserved for future generations. Still, the city believes that the cost is too high for them to take on alone. It might be possible with donations and grants, but money can take years to raise. Anoka is a community of preservation-minded people, so if anyone can do it, they can!