The History of Kensington

The History of Kensington

In 1886 land was purchased for the construction of a railroad through this area. Of course, with the rail line came the need for railroad stations and villages.

The land where Kensington is located was owned by Peter and Anna Greta Johnson, who had purchased it from early homesteader, Nils Ristburg, in Solem Township, Douglas County in 1882. The Johnson farm changed quickly in August, 1886 when Peter sold a strip of land running diagonally through his farm to the Minneapolis and Pacific Railway Company for a rail line to be built. Then on November 4, 1886 Johnson sold a portion of the farm to William D. Washburn for the surveying and platting of a village when a railroad station was located here. The plot was recorded in 1887. Washburn sold the original platted townsite to the Pacific Land Company with lots ready to sell for businesses and residential houses to be built. Thus, a village was founded!

A railroad worker, Mr. Maxfield, saw a beautiful flower garden in the area which reminded him of the famous Kensington Gardens in England and suggested the village be named Kensington.

From 1887 to 1891, the village was governed by the Solem Township Board until the village was officially incorporated on October 24, 1891. Kensington continued to grow with businesses and houses added, plus a school house and later a Lutheran church. The population of Kensington in 1910 was 244 residents.


In the 1970’s and 1980’s businesses declined as rural population was lost. But today the population holds steady at near 300 residents with essential businesses continuing to operate in this village founded in 1887 because of a railroad coming through this area.

For more on the history of the Kensington, Minnesota area, visit the web site of the Kensington Area Heritage Society.