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Two Renovation Options for Minnehaha Falls Pavilion

Paul May

Architect Paul May from Millier Dunwiddie explains the two renovation plans for the Minnehaha Falls Refectory at a recent open house.

Last week, the Park and Recreation Board unveiled two options for the renovations planned for the Minnehaha Falls Refectory (pavilion).

The plans are based on feedback from the first open house and include a basic plan and an enhanced plan. At this point, the Park Board is looking to the community for input on the two plans – which plan is preferred, and which elements are most important.

While both plans include improvements to the site and the building, the enhanced plan includes additional features and upgrades.

Basic Plan Highlights

  • The bathrooms will receive an upgrade with new fixtures, better lighting, and ventilation.
  • The kitchen area for Sea Salt will be expanded and the basement will include additional kitchen prep space for the restaurant.
  • The ceiling will be opened up, and the original wood will be restored in the main pavilion area.
  • The Sea Salt patio on the south side will be expanded.
  • Congestion between pedestrians, Sea Salt customers, and cyclists will be improved through better pathways and signage.
  • Better signage will be added throughout the main area of the park so visitors can navigate easier.
  • Overnight parking for rental bikes will be moved from inside the pavilion to the west side of the building in the center traffic circle.
  • Space for accessible parking, delivery trucks, and tour buses will be improved.
  • A new asphalt roof will be installed.

Refectory renovations basic

Basic plan for the Minnehaha Falls Refectory.

Enhanced Plan Highlights

In addition to the renovations in the basic plan, the enhanced plan also includes:

  • Completely renovated bathrooms with a new layout. The design provides additional entrances from the exterior of the building and more windows.
  • A wider stairway to the basement that is easier to navigate and brings the stairway up to code.
  • A kitchen area with hot plates and a sink will be installed for public use (the current public kitchen doesn’t work).
  • History cases that will be installed on the west side of the building near the tour bus drop off and the bathrooms.
  • An expanded patio on the south and east sides of the building for Sea Salt. The east side of the building will have a pergola with lights and vining plants over the seating area.

Refectory renovations, enhanced

Enhanced Renovation Plan for the Minnehaha Falls Refectory.

Next Steps

The project team will bring the recommended renovation plan to the Park Board in November for approval. In addition to the Park Board, plans will also need to receive a Certificate of Appropriateness from the Heritage Preservation Commission. Depending on funding, construction might begin next summer. The Park Board plans to carry out the project in phases over the next couple of years.

Provide Feedback

If you weren’t able to attend the meeting and provide your input, you can email Cliff Swenson at or take the project survey.

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