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Noerenberg Gardens on Lake Minnetonka—A Public Treasure

The generosity of one local family benefits all with its beautiful gardens.

Noerenberg Gardens are located on the estate of Grain Belt Brewery Founder Frederick Noerenberg in Orono. Nestled along the north shore of Crystal Bay, the gardens offer incredible views of Lake Minnetonka.

In 1890, Noerenberg built a Queen Anne style home with eight bedrooms on his 73-acre estate named “Wilkommen.” Noerenberg’s home was one of the first permanent homes on the lake.

The estate also included 8,400 feet of lakeshore and incredible gardens that Noerenberg painstakingly oversaw. It is said that he would notice if his gardens had one rose missing. At one time, 17 employees were on staff to help maintain the house, gardens and the working farm on the estate. 

In 1972, the estate was bequeathed to the Three Rivers Park District by Noerenberg’s daughter Lora Noerenberg Hoppe. She had lived in the home until her death at the age of 85. 

The donation included a mandate that the home be razed and the estate be maintained as a garden for the public to enjoy. Today, the beautiful gardens include a variety of annuals and perennials, as well as ornamental grasses and sugar maple trees. 

A grape arbor includes plants that were originally planted when the Noerenbergs lived on the estate, some of which still produce small fruits. Great care has gone into preserving plants from the Noerenberg family era.

Two structures on the property feature architectural styles reminiscent of the original Noerenberg home. 

The Boathouse/Gazebo with its distinctive Oriental style is the perfect place to sit and watch the boats go by. Visitors standing in the gazebo look across Crystal Bay to Lafayette Club in Minnetonka Beach.

The Memorial Colonnade, which stands where the original family home was located, features eight replica columns similar to those originally standing on one of the porches of the mansion. 

A plaque embedded in the center of the colonnade reads “Noerenberg Memorial Country Park is Dedicated to the Use of the Public in Memory of the Frederick and Johanna Noerenberg Family Who Once Lived Here.”

Noerenberg Gardens, located at 2865 North Shore Drive, are open from 8 a.m. to sunset from mid-May though Mid-October. Admission is free.

Three Rivers Park offers programs in which master gardeners give tours of Noerenberg Gardens. These tours are open to the public. Tours and weddings may also be scheduled at Noerenberg Gardens. For more information, visit www.ThreeRiversParkDistrict.org.

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