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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

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)