Native Americans were the first residents of our area. To them, the waterfall on the river was sacred and no warfare was permitted while visiting them. Father Louis Hennepin, a Franciscan priest captured by the Dakota, is credited with being the first European to see the falls in 1680. He was so taken with their beauty that he named them after his patron saint, St. Anthony of Padua. His accounts of adventures in the new world helped make this a destination for adventurous travelers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The falls became the center for logging businesses and by 1850 census records show the town of St. Anthony Falls with a population of 656. The first store was opened in 1847, at what is now Main Street and Second Avenue SE; the first frame houses were built in 1848 and the first school was opened in 1849.
Eventually the town of St. Anthony Falls incorporated in 1855, and was later named St. Anthony. It merged with Minneapolis in 1872. Fifth Street became the premier address in the city. It was home to flour manufacturers, lumbermen, merchants and other civic leaders who built the town of St. Anthony. In 1976 a portion of Fifth Street SE was designated a local historic district. Marcy-Holmes boasts three other historic districts: the St. Anthony Falls Historic District, the University of MN Greek Letter Chapter House Historic District, and the Dinkytown Historic District.
Marcy-Holmes is rich in cultural and historical buildings, landscapes, and streets. Four historic districts protect the St. Anthony Falls area, 5th Street SE west of I-35W, several Greek properties, and a substantial portion of the Dinkytown business district. These places are highly valued by neighborhood residents for their character and quality, and for the strong connection to the past that they convey.