The City of Grant is located on the eastern fringe of the Twin Cities' urban core area within west central Washington County. Grant covers approximately 27 square miles and the 1996 census estimated a little over 4,070 residents. The city is serviced by two public school districts: ISD 834 (Stillwater) and ISD 832 (Mahtomedi).
Grant is bordered by Stillwater Township and the city of Stillwater to the east, Lake Elmo (Hwy 36) to the south, Pine Springs, Mahtomedi, White Bear Township and Dellwood to the west, and Hugo, Withrow and May Township to the north. The southwest border is slightly more than a mile from the Hwy 36 and 694 interchange. Rural character best describes Grant - including private well and septic systems. Though there are neighborhoods with smaller lot sizes, zoning since 1976 has mandated an average lot size of 10 acres and a minimum lot size of five acres. Grant became a city in 1995 to preserve its rural character and protect critical habitat from high density development. Grant, like many communities, is caught between the tension of development and protecting the natural and rural climate that makes it appealing. Natural habitat, open spaces, and large lot sizes draw most people to Grant. Larger lot sizes means “acreage” in Grant appealing to hobby farmers and horse people.
Commercial agriculture includes family operated crop and livestock farms, equine facilities (stables), Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) operations, a nursery, orchards, and produce farmers as well as all levels of hobby gardeners. Tractors, combines, threshers, horses and bikes share the roads with commuters and school buses. Those roads may be paved or unpaved.
Farming sights, sounds, and smells – including livestock, fertilizing, and harvesting are part of Grant’s rural heritage. Farm equipment, including horse trailers, that would look out of place on a city/suburban lot is part of living on or next to a few acres. Seasonal farming activities start up early and can run into the night.
Moving to the country is a dream for many people. Residing in Grant is both relaxing and challenging. Living in Grant means you may wake up to the cries of a red tailed hawk or deer eating your hostas. Much of nature cannot be controlled – such as spraying to eradicate all the ticks in one’s woods. They all play a role in the ecosystem. Friends will enjoy visiting your home in the country…but you may want them to swing by and pick up the extra bag of ice as there are no strip malls, gas stations, nor downtown areas for quick trips and errands.
Natural resources are vital to Grant and include mixed hardwood forests, remnant prairie, wetlands, ponds, streams and lakes. Hobby farms have replaced most of the commercial farming operations and an extensive trail system is frequented by horseback riders, bicyclists, skiers, runners and snowmobilers. The Gateway Trail is the best known recreational feature of Grant.
- Washington County was one of nine counties formed upon the separation of Minnesota Territory from Wisconsin. The Town of Grant was officially organized October 20, 1858 as a Congressional Township containing the normal six-mile by six-mile area with the first three supervisors and a clerk. It remained a township until November of 1996 when it became a city. The original area of The Town of Grant contained the current region plus the area up to the eastern border of the City of White Bear Lake.
- In the summer of 1996, The Town of Grant successfully applied to be incorporated into a city. The Minnesota Municipal Council approved its application in early September, 1996. The purpose of this change was primarily to protect the rural nature of Grant. The Town Board dissolved after its last meeting in October and a City Council with four Council Members and a
Mayor took office after the November, 1996 election. The first school in Grant opened in 1856 and was followed by others as settlers arrived. These schools met in one-room buildings each operated by a separate school district and school board. The current City Hall is one of these school buildings. A couple of them are now homes. Many residents remember the red one room school that stood at the corner of Highway 96 and Jamaca and burned down many years ago. These school districts eventually consolidated into the Mahtomedi and Stillwater school districts. The Mahtomedi High and Middle Schools are located in Grant.
- Except for Withrow, Grant was almost exclusively a farming community during its first century. However, its proximity to the Twin Cities and closeness to Highway 36 and Interstate Highway 694 made it attractive for development as home sites. Discounting the village of Withrow, the first platted subdivision was Hickory Park followed by Wake Robin Acres, platted as one acre lots in the early 1960's. Concern about potential pollution from septic systems caused the Town Board to change the minimum lot size standard from 1.0 to 2.5 acres in 1968. Later, the Metropolitan Council issued a directive that all future subdivisions in the rural townships within its jurisdiction have an average lot size of ten acres and a minimum lot size of five acres. The Grant Town Board adopted this directive in 1976. Since then, much of Grant has been developed into home sites.
- Only a few commercial farms now remain in Grant, but many small hobby farms, mostly for raising, training, and boarding horses replace them. Grant has experienced only small amounts of commercial development. There are two commercial zones in Grant. The first commercial zone contains a farm supply store located at the corner of Highway 36 and Keats avenue. The other commercial zone is at the corner of Highways 17 and 36 where several small businesses operate. Several agricultural related businesses, two commercial apple orchards, a large nursery, and family farms sell to the public.
You may also read about Grant at the Washington County Historical Society.