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

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

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

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

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