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

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

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

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

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)

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