Chanhassen was one of the earliest settlements in Carver County, but it grew at one of the slowest rates until the late 1960s. Until that time, farming was the leading industry. The first claim settled in Chanhassen Township was in June 1852 by Joseph Vogel.
It is believed that Clarissa Cleaveland selected the name "Chanhassen" (originally spelled Chanhassan) for the town, which is the Dakota (Sioux) name meaning "tree with sweet sap" or sugar maple tree. The name was officially adopted during the first town meeting held May 17, 1858.
After the Civil War in 1865, the Rev. Magnus Mayr formally organized a parish of German Catholics under the title of St. Hubert Church. A small log house was built to serve the parish on land donated by Henry Pauly Sr., the same site where the historic church stands today.
The Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad drew more settlers to the little town, and in 1896 the Village of Chanhassen was incorporated.
Chanhassens population and businesses grew slowly for several decades. During the 1960s, Chanhassens first mini-mall was built. In 1967, the present City of Chanhassen was formed by a merger of the village and surrounding township. During that same decade, a homebuilder named Herb Bloomberg moved his business to Chanhassen and opened a lumber and hardware store. He became interested in the theater business, having built the Old Log Theatre in Excelsior, and opened his own 600-seat theater in October 1968. Today, The Chanhassen Dinner Theatre, under new ownership, attracts annual audiences of more than 300,000, as well as theater professionals from all over the world.
In the late 1970s, Chanhassen embarked on a redevelopment plan for its downtown and industrial parks. Currently, over 500 businesses call Chanhassen home and they employ over 8,500 people.
Chanhassens development from a quiet town to a prosperous suburb of the Twin Cities has been dramatic in the past few years.
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