Originally Dellwood was a part of Grant Township. It became a part of Lincoln Township when the new township was organized in 1918. Over the years Mahtomedi, Willernie, Birchwood, and Pine Springs split from Lincoln Township. The township disappeared when its last community reorganized as the City of Dellwood in 1993.
The area near White Bear Lake began to be settled in the early 1850s, mostly by people moving out from St. Paul. James M. Goodhue, editor of the Minnesota Pioneer, published in St. Paul, was an early booster of the region. In 1850 he wrote “…in all directions around White-bear lake, Speculation is turning its eager eye—a beautiful region, of rich land, diversified with meadows, hills, valleys, oak-openings, lakes, timber and partial prairies.”
The region received another impetus to settlement in 1870 when the Stillwater & St. Paul Railroad was completed around the north end of White Bear Lake and across Grant. In the days before automobiles and good roads, Twin Citians depended upon the railroads to take them to their summer places. The community was also reached from Stillwater and White Bear Lake by the old Indian trail that became the first public road in the area, now Dellwood Avenue (Highway 96). By 1900 the Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste. Marie (Soo Line) had also crossed the northern part of Dellwood.
The Village of Dellwood, platted in 1882, began as a community of summer homes near White Bear Lake, conveniently located on the Stillwater & White Bear Railroad line. The original plat of 250 acres was developed with large, architect-designed cottages of often palatial proportions. Homes for the families of St. Paul businessmen Kirby Barnum, Lucius Ordway, and Truman Ingersoll were among the first constructed in the 1890s.
Byrd Hewitt and Kirby Barnum opened a summer hotel on the site of the present White Bear Yacht Club. Part of the area’s lore is that F. Scott Fitzgerald celebrated summer at a Dellwood cottage in which he wrote The Beautiful and the Damned. Dellwood is now the wealthiest city in Minnesota, having surpassed Edina with a median income of over $130,000, and in the top 10 wealthiest nationwide.
About half of Dellwood’s population lives in a suburban setting. The other half enjoys a rural lifestyle—there were still 19 farms in the city in 2000. There is little commercial property in Dellwood, the exceptions being golf courses and an apple orchard. There is not even a city hall—the city council meets in nearby Willernie, and services are provided by White Bear Lake.
The City of Dellwood is one of the smaller communities of Washington County consisting of about 1,800 acres with a current (2005) population of just over 1,100.