The open-space development plan used at Cloverdale farm was so successful that it has been used by both local governments and Robert Engstrom Companies on other projects.
Cloverdale Farm broke ground in the fall of 1994. Due to governmental restrictions, clustering of homes was not permitted. Preservation of existing land features was accomplished, however, with a covenant requiring each homeowner to landscape half of their 2 ½ acres in a natural state. The majority of the homeowners chose native prairie restoration as their method of natural landscaping. Working together, Cloverdale Farm homeowners and Robert Engstrom Companies, the developer, were able to contiguously connect large stands of native prairie restorations. This cooperation produced an absolutely stunning landscape.
The innovative Cloverdale Farm land plan retains the interesting character of the rolling hills, lakes, marshes and woodlands, while providing coveted amenities like trails, parkland, and sports facilities. Cloverdale and McDonald lakes also give beautiful lakeshore and recreational opportunities for Cloverdale Farm homeowners. To help keep the lakes clean, wetland areas were created to help retain and treat storm water before it enters the lakes.
Henry L. Moss originally acquired the property from the United States Government in 1849, one year after Minnesota became a territory. James P. Gribben, a St. Paul lumber merchant, then purchased the property in 1887, proudly naming her the “Cloverdale Stock Farm”. For the next nearly 60 years, Cloverdale Farm served as a fine stable and training facility for trotting horses. Dan Patch, the World's fastest pacer, trained there.
In 1897, Mr. Gribben sold the property to Thomas Irvine and his son Horace, both prominently involved in the lumber industry. Thomas made his winter home on Dayton Avenue and Horace lived on Summit Avenue in what is now the Governors’ residence. During the early part of the century, the Irvine family enhanced Cloverdale with the construction of a racetrack and one of the most famous barns in Minnesota. Unfortunately, the Cloverdale barn was lost in a tornado in 1958. They built the existing house in 1924 and continued to host incredible social gatherings for Minnesota’s elite.
The historic home and grounds have been retained along with a new perennial garden. On a nearby homesite, Steve and Julie Zimmer have restored the historic dairy barn and the large storage shed. The slide show to the left shows the beautiful Cloverdale Farm landscape and the restorations of the existing buildings.