Lowertown: Former steamboat landing experiences another boom

The fact that Lowertown, in downtown Saint Paul at the foot of Robert Street, is north of Uppertown, at the foot of Chestnut Street near Irvine Park, may seem puzzling, but it actually makes perfect sense. The Mississippi River takes a few turns as it passes through the area, forming a sort of sideways S-curve … Continue reading Lowertown: Former steamboat landing experiences another boom

Alnwick, England: A town of many centuries and stories (Part II)

Even though it’s a small town, Alnwick, England, has quite a few locations of interest both right in the town and in the surrounding area. It merits a visit of a few days at least. In addition to Alnwick Castle, The Alnwick Garden, the Playhouse and Barter Books, which are the four best-known attractions, some … Continue reading Alnwick, England: A town of many centuries and stories (Part II)

Alnwick, England: A town of many centuries and stories (Part I)

  Are you missing “Downton Abbey”? You can visit the castle where the family spent Christmas in the final episodes of the last two seasons. Are you a fan of Harry Potter? He learned to fly in Alnwick Castle, and you too can have flying lessons there. From roughly April until November, the Castle’s lavish … Continue reading Alnwick, England: A town of many centuries and stories (Part I)

Germanic-American Institute: Group shares culture, language, and “gemuetlichkeit” in Summit Avenue mansion

Anyone who has taken a stroll or drive along Summit Avenue is likely to have noticed a building with the words “Germanic American Institute” atop the entryway. For many years the words were “Volksfest Kulturhaus,” but they essentially signified the same idea, that the place is a gathering spot for all things German in the … Continue reading Germanic-American Institute: Group shares culture, language, and “gemuetlichkeit” in Summit Avenue mansion

Clarence “Cap” Wigington: Architect’s beautiful, elegant buildings endure in St. Paul

Clarence Wigington left his mark all over Saint Paul, yet his work was largely unattributed during his lifetime. Even today few recognize his many architectural accomplishments. In a sense, he was an invisible man. Wigington, known as “Cap,” was the mastermind behind the Highland Park Water Tower,* the Harriet Island Pavilion, the [now] Roy Wilkins … Continue reading Clarence “Cap” Wigington: Architect’s beautiful, elegant buildings endure in St. Paul

The Saint Paul Curling Club: Longtime home of “good play” serves curlers from near and far

Casting stones is usually considered a bad thing to do, but not at 476 Selby Avenue in the heart of Saint Paul: the Saint Paul Curling Club. Here, courtesy and respect are the order of the day when stones are thrown (pushed, actually) in the game of curling. Perhaps that sporting attitude is in part … Continue reading The Saint Paul Curling Club: Longtime home of “good play” serves curlers from near and far

Irvine Park: The Years Have Been Kind to This Early Settlement

In the shadows of downtown St. Paul lies one of the city’s loveliest and oldest areas, Irvine Park. It dates from 1849, the year Minnesota became a territory. Its peaceful atmosphere and graceful homes, clustered around a small square with a fountain, belie its urban surroundings. In its early years St. Paul, without a sister … Continue reading Irvine Park: The Years Have Been Kind to This Early Settlement

The University Club of Saint Paul: Tradition proudly endures

Perched among the mansions of elegant Summit Avenue, where Ramsey Street intersects the avenue at the top of what is rumored to be St. Paul’s steepest hill, the University Club poses a question: why a “University Club” when there’s no university nearby, much less adjacent? Turns out the University Club is one of St. Paul’s … Continue reading The University Club of Saint Paul: Tradition proudly endures

Union Depot: City’s historic center is getting back on track

St. Paul’s Union Depot at 215 Fourth Street may be on the last leg of a long round trip, heading back, though slowly, toward becoming a bustling transit hub again. Traces remain of the station’s glory days, since the most recent restoration in 2010-2012. The former ticket windows are visible behind the bar, the oversize … Continue reading Union Depot: City’s historic center is getting back on track

Cass Gilbert: Architect’s Minnesota State Capitol moved him to national fame

Cass Gilbert “changed the face of St. Paul," according to Leigh Roethke in Minnesota’s Capitol. After moving to Saint Paul as a child, he left to learn his trade but returned to grow his architectural practice and stayed for 27 years. Then he left again, this time for New York City where his national reputation … Continue reading Cass Gilbert: Architect’s Minnesota State Capitol moved him to national fame