I was disappointed to read Steve Brandt’s Jan. 23 story about the Wirth house lease. He claims Park Board Superintendent Al Bangoura has uninterrupted use of the whole house for all but 20 hours per month but fails to acknowledge the main level and basement of the Wirth House are set up by the Minneapolis Parks Legacy Society as a museum to Theodore Wirth on a 24/7 basis, even when tours are not being held.
Because of this, Superintendent Bangoura and his family spend the majority of their time on the second floor where the bedrooms are located. The Bangoura family does not have any of their own personal furniture, family photos or family items in the living room, dining room or main-floor living areas. His family’s personal items are limited to the second floor and kitchen. I respect how difficult that makes it for Al and his family to truly make the house their home. I’ve heard how Wirth’s children were inspired by living in that house (all of it) and went on to design parks and gardens. I want Al’s son to have the same opportunity.
When we first hired Superintendent Bangoura, I received a lot of calls, texts and emails from members of the African American community telling me how much it means to them to have the first black male superintendent of the park system live there with his family. It’s significant that he’s the first superintendent of color living in that house, and I want us to teach our kids about our parks beyond Theodore Wirth.
I’ve appreciated the work of the Minneapolis Parks Legacy Society, but I think the Wirth history can happen at the Wirth Chalet or another space. There are also many superintendents who have contributed greatly to this park system since Wirth retired in 1935, and I want their legacy shared too.
I’d prefer that Superintendent Bangoura give tours of the home when he wants and share the full history of our parks.
Vice president, Minneapolis Park Board