All Over Town

All Over Town. The influence is everywhere. Some is subtle. Some is obvious. Some is familiar. Some may not be recognized. Either way, the influence of Yale University alumni on Minnesota is inescapable.

In isolation, the fact that any prominent Minnesotan attended Yale may be purely random. But time after time, a relationship with Yale exists in the histories of so many Minnesotans, it begins to transcend coincidence. The stories in this book provide anecdotal evidence to substantiate this claim.

Many well-known Minnesota buildings, companies, and other institutions tell much of its history—and are linked to Yale. For instance, for generations, schoolchildren visiting the State Capitol in St. Paul have been greeted by the sight of a grand statue of Alexander Wilkin displayed in its Rotunda. Wilkin (Class of 1841), a colonel with the Ninth Minnesota during the Civil War, co-founded The St. Paul Companies, today known as Traveler’s Insurance and numbered among the Fortune 500. Other familiar logos, businesses and family names in Minnesota have significant Yale connections, such as those associated with the Cargill Company, General Mills, Pillsbury, Peavey Plaza at Orchestra Hall, and the railroads of James J. Hill. Hill (Law School, Class of 1910, Hon.), a railroad magnate, sent both of his sons to Yale. His Gilded Age mansion on Summit Avenue in St. Paul stands in recognition of the Hill family’s accomplishments, preserved by the Minnesota Historical Society as a center for arts and architecture. Wheelock Whitney (Class of 1950), a well-known Minnesotan beloved for helping to bring the Minnesota Twins franchise to the state, is memorialized with a building named in his honor at the Minneapolis Technical College, his name prominently visible from the street. Other well-known Minnesota locations with significant Yale connections include Northrop Auditorium on the campus of the University of Minnesota; Hazeltine National Golf Club, home to golf’s Ryder Cup, and founded by Totton Peavey Heffelfinger (Class of 1922); as well as a statue of young Nathan Hale standing resolute on the corner of Summit and Western Avenues in St. Paul, its journey to that location a study in Minnesota Yale alumni patriotism.

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