By Steve Brandt, a member of the Minneapolis Board of Estimate and Taxation

What Minneapolitan approaching Lake Harriet hasn’t been thrilled to see the fairy tale-like spires of the lake’s iconic bandshell, with its matching refectory and outbuildings?

But there’s one thing missing from the scene—the original slate-blue hue of these iconic structures. As the Star Tribune commented years ago, the blue-gray tone fit beautifully into the color palette of the water, trees and sky.

I still remember rounding the lake in 2004 on one of my several weekly runs there and that gut-thumping moment when I spied the bandshell covered in a shade best described as mud. What were they thinking?

The brown downer occurred after a local developer-contractor assembled a team of volunteer contractors and individuals to renovate the bandshell and apply new stain. The developer posted several alternative color choices for the new stain for public reaction. But that got short-circuited when then-Park Board Superintendent Jon Gurban unilaterally chose a shade of tan.  

The brown lake Harriet Bandshell. Photo by August Schwerdfeger.

The bandshell was blue from its construction in 1986 until the 2004 renovation. Raise the question with people around long enough to remember, and there’s an overwhelming desire to bring back blue.

I’ve launched an online petition asking the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board to bring back the blue during next spring’s renovations.

There’s reason to hope for restoration of the bandshell’s true blue. Original bandshell designer Milo Thompson is being brought into the process of selecting the stain color that will adorn the renovated buildings. Park staff told me that several factors need to be considered, including a color that goes well with the new coated copper eaves.  They hope to present one or two choices to the Park Board in September.