A Look Back at White Bear Lake's Gazebo

Historic wedding structure has hosted numerous weddings for more than a century.
The Erd-Geist Gazebo at its original location along South Shore Boulevard circa 1905.

The historic Erd-Geist Gazebo was designed and built in 1883 by summer visitor Thomas Erd for his daughter Annie and her husband Emil Geist. Erd built many grand structures, including downtown St. Paul’s Assumption Church. This smaller  gazebo was erected on the south shore of White Bear Lake and took most of a summer to construct.
In the early 1900s, the first floor was enclosed to provide more privacy and create a lakeside honeymoon cottage for members of the Geist family. By the 1970s, the structure was in disrepair and the property had changed hands. The White Bear Lake Women’s Club initiated an effort to restore the landmark and received permission to do so with the stipulation that they move the gazebo to a new location.  
Negotiations with the City of White Bear Lake provided a new home for the gazebo at Matoska Park near the bridge to Manitou Island, but the club encountered several setbacks as the gazebo’s owner changed several times in just a few years. Ultimately, the move was agreed upon and the club planned a move across the frozen lake in early 1974.  
When the structure was ready in February, the ice on the lake was too soft to be safe and the club made a last-minute change to have the gazebo trucked up Lake Avenue to its new home on a flatbed trailer. The landmark was reconstructed and restored on its new site in 1974, and has since undergone a second restoration completed in 2000.  
The site has proved to be a wonderful public gathering place and an oft-photographed piece of our history. Local photographers use the backdrop for senior pictures, wedding and engagement photos. The site has also been a popular wedding ceremony site for many couples over the last 40 years, taking its original purpose into a whole new century.  

Sara Markoe Hanson is the executive director of the White Bear Lake Area Historical Society. She is one of a handful of community representatives sharing history thoughts monthly in our magazine. For more information on the Erd-Geist Gazebo, visit whitebearhistory.org, or call 651.407.5327.