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

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

Como Park: Historic acreage creates urban oasis

Como Park has weathered the years much as its home city St Paul has. Just as St. Paul was an outpost for the country in its early days, so Como Park was an outpost for the city, located out on its far edges. Both are centered around a body of water, Como by the lake … Continue reading Como Park: Historic acreage creates urban oasis

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

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

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

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

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