WHAT'S IN A NAME: Creamery owner David Park loved to show off his lavish home

Editor's note: This is part of a 20-story series titled "What's in a name?" completed by Pioneer reporters for our 2022 Annual Report. Read more of the section by clicking the embed at the bottom of this article.

The three-story brass railing, imitating a music note along with a dazzling curved staircase extending from the basement to the second floor, was brought into Bemidji on a flatbed truck, hoisted up by a crane and dropped into the place of what is now known as the David Park House.

The all-concrete house, located at 1501 Birchmont Drive NE, was built in 1937 by a young architect named Edward Mahlum, an employee of a Fergus Falls architectural firm.

Before the construction, Park attended the Chicago World's Fair, which showcased several demonstration homes and perhaps he was inspired by what he saw, but exactly why Park wanted the house constructed in this manner is unknown.

David Park Sign.jpg
The David Park House, built in 1937, is now home to the Bemidji State University Foundation and Alumni Association.

Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer

About 10 years before constructing the house, Park purchased the Koors Brothers Creamery in 1926 and converted it to the David Park Creamery, providing ice cream and other dairy products for decades in Bemidji and becoming one of the largest in the area.

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He promised his wife Edna that he would eventually build her a home for their family.

Park and Edna moved into the streamline modern-style home with their three children in late 1937. Edna had only a few short years in the home before she died of cancer in 1941. Park then married his second wife, Wanda Hartman Batchelder, in 1944 and had another daughter.

Park was proud of his unique home, and according to his daughters, Margaret and Mary, he would invite guests to tour the home — even if the children were asleep in their rooms.

One of his most famous guests was Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

David Park and Eleanor Roosevelt.jpg
A photo of David Park welcoming Eleanor Roosevelt to Bemidji hangs on a wall of the David Park House.

Maggi Fellerman / Bemidji Pioneer

Park continued to live in his home until he died in 1977. Wanda Park then deeded the house to the Bemidji State University Foundation.

Since 1992, the David Park House has served as offices for the BSU Alumni and Foundation and has hosted many university-sponsored luncheons, dinners and receptions.

Reads the What's in a Name? section.

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