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James J. Hill Center: Stately historic library melds the old and the new

James J. Hill is often associated with railroads, but his biggest contribution to Saint Paul was more mental than mechanical. The James J. Hill Center, formerly the James J. Hill Reference Library, has been called Hill’s “living gift” to the city and the most significant and visible civic legacy of its legendary founder. Yet, sharing … Continue reading James J. Hill Center: Stately historic library melds the old and the new

Oxford: City of Fiction and Fantasy

“If God Himself on earth abode would make/He Oxford, sure, would for his dwelling take.” – Dan Rogers The famed spires of Oxford’s colleges stand tall amid the hustle and bustle of the city, above the fray. Oxford’s 150,000 residents, including 33,000 students, seem to accept the herds of tourists as a necessary part of … Continue reading Oxford: City of Fiction and Fantasy

Summit Lookout Park: Idyllic corner atop Ramsey Hill provides premium view of city

This tiny 0.43-acre public area at the intersection of Ramsey Street and Summit Avenue is emblematic of St. Paul and its history. The decorative metal railing was salvaged from the historic Selby Avenue Bridge in 1989 and is more than a hundred years old. The retaining wall comprises stones from the High Bridge that was … Continue reading Summit Lookout Park: Idyllic corner atop Ramsey Hill provides premium view of city

Amelia Earhart in St. Paul: A brief stay was marred by sad times

Over a hundred years ago, high school students in Saint Paul were enjoying Central High School’s new location at Marshall and Lexington. A new school building, designed by local architect Clarence H. Johnston, had been erected in 1912. Little did those students know that in their midst was a woman who would become one of … Continue reading Amelia Earhart in St. Paul: A brief stay was marred by sad times

The Ordway: Saint Paul’s premiere arts center adds a touch of class (and glass) to downtown

One evening in the late 1970s a woman went to downtown St. Paul and couldn’t find anything to do, not even a movie to watch. She was appalled, because she loved St. Paul and hated to see it so desolate. But she didn’t just complain, because this was no ordinary woman: this was Sally Ordway … Continue reading The Ordway: Saint Paul’s premiere arts center adds a touch of class (and glass) to downtown

Pioneer and Endicott Buildings: Pioneer spirit of St. Paul’s early days is preserved in two magnificent buildings

Two buildings with shared histories—physically and in the public mind—sit side by side in downtown St. Paul, until recently empty and without future plans. They are two of the city’s oldest architectural gems: the Pioneer and Endicott buildings. They were constructed at almost the same time. When the Pioneer Building opened for business in 1889, … Continue reading Pioneer and Endicott Buildings: Pioneer spirit of St. Paul’s early days is preserved in two magnificent buildings

Oxford Theater: The roots of the Mann Theater empire are on Selby Avenue

An apparently modest, somewhat nondescript building on Selby Avenue was the site that launched an empire of movie theaters and the career of a famous Twin Cities entrepreneur. Located at 989 Selby, it has a red door flanked by glass block windows, and two second-story windows covered with arched red awnings, but aside from those … Continue reading Oxford Theater: The roots of the Mann Theater empire are on Selby Avenue

Fort Snelling State Park: An oasis in the Cities

Hundreds of acres of wilderness sit peacefully in the middle of the Twin Cities. The 2900-hundred-acre Fort Snelling State Park is adjacent to the Twin Cities International Airport on Post Road off State Highway 5. The park offers a pastoral setting in an urban center, a number of recreational opportunities, and nearly as much historical … Continue reading Fort Snelling State Park: An oasis in the Cities

W.A. Frost and Dacotah Building: Neighborhood cornerstone serves old-time ambience

When pharmacist William Arthur Frost died on August 12, 1930, he had lived in Saint Paul for 47 years. He left a legacy he never expected: 45 years after his death, a restaurant opened in the building where his pharmacy was located, at the southeast corner of Selby and Western avenues. The establishment was named … Continue reading W.A. Frost and Dacotah Building: Neighborhood cornerstone serves old-time ambience

Schmidt Brewery: St. Paul’s “castle” is now a fortress of a different color

The Schmidt Brewery sits majestically at 882 West Seventh Street, towering over the other buildings in the area. Its regal mien is appropriate, because it has a long history of being one of the leading breweries in the state, even though it now has been converted to other uses. Beer brewing has been a healthy … Continue reading Schmidt Brewery: St. Paul’s “castle” is now a fortress of a different color