Blog

The Commodore: Former hotel and hotspot rose like a phoenix from 1978 explosions

The years, fires and explosions seem scarcely to have left their mark on the venerable Commodore Hotel at 79 Western Avenue. It looks much the same as it did when it opened in 1920 as an upscale residential hotel. “The gallant old building probably houses more memories of generations of St. Paulites than any other … Continue reading The Commodore: Former hotel and hotspot rose like a phoenix from 1978 explosions

The Church by the Hill: German Bethlehem Presbyterian Church has served many purposes over many years

Leaving the Interstate 35E parkway at the Grand Avenue exit, or coming and going from United Hospital, or heading to Summit Avenue from downtown, you likely notice a small, golden-colored stone building with a steeple at the corner of Ramsey Street and Pleasant Avenue, nestled at the bottom of “the big hill.” That building is … Continue reading The Church by the Hill: German Bethlehem Presbyterian Church has served many purposes over many years

Raspberry Island: The little island that could

Raspberry Island has all the makings for an identity crisis. It has long lived in the shadow of its sibling and neighbor Harriet Island, and it sits literally in the shadow of the Wabasha Street Bridge. Its size and function have been altered several times, its name has changed, and it only became an actual … Continue reading Raspberry Island: The little island that could

James J. Hill House: Monument to a self-made man

Behind the daunting, soot-darkened red sandstone walls, the James J. Hill House at 240 Summit Avenue can give visitors a chance to sense how people coped with summer heat before air conditioning—at least how wealthy people coped. The wide halls, spacious terraces, big windows and dark interior are comfortably cool, with the help of an … Continue reading James J. Hill House: Monument to a self-made man

The Saint Paul Hotel: Everyone who’s anyone has slept there

When the Saint Paul Hotel officially opened on April 18, 1910, the city’s movers and shakers enjoyed an 11-course dinner at the hotel, and heard speeches by railroad magnate James J. Hill, Archbishop John Ireland, Governor Adolph Eberhart, and future Supreme Court Justice Pierce Butler. The hotel lobby and dining room were decorated with 6,000 … Continue reading The Saint Paul Hotel: Everyone who’s anyone has slept there

Harriet Bishop: A schoolmarm in the wild west (Saint Paul)

During the first year of organized schooling in Minnesota, 1847, Minnesota was not a state or even a territory. The state’s first official schoolteacher, Harriet Bishop, held her first classes shortly after she arrived in July of that year. What she found to use as a schoolhouse was a former blacksmith shop, a log cabin … Continue reading Harriet Bishop: A schoolmarm in the wild west (Saint Paul)

Landmark Center: Old Federal Building was rescued from demolition in early preservation effort

Landmark Center is a trapezoidal building that sits overlooking Rice Park between Fifth and Sixth streets, and Washington and Market streets in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Its ornate style is known as Richardsonian Romanesque or Romanesque Revival, a style that was quite popular for government buildings when that building was constructed around the turn of the … Continue reading Landmark Center: Old Federal Building was rescued from demolition in early preservation effort

Harriet Island: Not a real island but a longtime center for recreation in Saint Paul

Harriet Island is one of St. Paul’s oldest parks, dating from 1900, when Justus Ohage, the city’s Commissioner of Public Health, donated the property to the city. He had raised money and mortgaged his own house to acquire the island and create a healthy recreation site for the city’s citizens. Ohage believed, “In the health … Continue reading Harriet Island: Not a real island but a longtime center for recreation in Saint Paul

The High Bridge: City’s long-beloved span gets a face lift in 2018

The aptly named High Bridge in Saint Paul is closed from September 2017 through December 2018 for redecking, adding new pedestrian and bicycle facilities, and improving the road approaches. While that work is underway, here’s a look at the bridge’s storied past. On February 24, 1985, the High Bridge, one of Saint Paul’s most visible … Continue reading The High Bridge: City’s long-beloved span gets a face lift in 2018

Fort Snelling: First European military outpost in Minnesota barely survived the interstate highway system

If you’ve ever wondered what pioneer life was like--and who hasn’t?--spend a summer afternoon at Historic Fort Snelling experiencing an array of “living history” exhibits, talking with actors in costume and in character, and browsing the 17 restored buildings there. The historic fort has seen decay, disruption and change but now has been restored and … Continue reading Fort Snelling: First European military outpost in Minnesota barely survived the interstate highway system