Home  ●  About Us Gibbs Museum Events & Exhibits Research Center ●  Magazine & Books Membership Support

Ask An Historian

 Ask a Historians Archived Question Page
To view the most recent "ask the historian" questions click now

Visitors please note:
The Research Center is open to
Ramsey County Historical Society members and the public, Monday through Thursday between 10:00pm and 4:00pm. 
Please call  651-222-0701 or email



 I am trying to find out when the St. Paul Fire Station #18, located on the corner of University Avenue and St. Albans, was first opened.  The closest I can come is - December 1908 - and I was wondering if you had any information as to the date it was opened.

 Thank you, Ron Pearson 


Well the closest we have to an answer comes from the book "St. Paul Fire a History" by Richard L. Heath 

It list the following information for Engine #18 which was housed at 681 University.
Engine 18- In service December 15,1908. Motorized in 1913. Location 1908- University and St. Albans. 

Ladder #9 which was also housed at 681 University also list an in service date of December 15,1908, It was motorized in 1916. 

So I would say December 15,1908 is your day.  

A building permit was issued May 6, 1908 for the Engine House  #18 and Hook & Ladder Company #9 at  681 University Avenue.
The estimated cost was $25,000. The architect listed are Buechner & Orth.



Can you tell me about the theater that was located on the corner of University Avenue and Lexington Avenue.
My mother worked there.

Bob Wagner



 The Centre Theater was located at 1078 (1080) University Avenue.
It was built in 1940 and operated as a theater until 1965.
In 1966 it was converted into the St. Paul Public Library’s  Lexington branch. The building now houses the Central Corridor Resource Center.

The photo at right shows the grand opening on the theater. The movie being shown is Bing Crosby's "If I had My Way".

Also shown in the photo: Lexington Groceteria, Woolworths and in the background a  bleachers and  lights from the  Lexington Ballpark.    


Was there ever a White Castle hamburger business on Payne Avenue?
Possibly near Payne and Magnolia?
And what dates was it there?

Thanks, Bernie



Yes, It was the first White Castle to open  in St. Paul.  It was located at 1081 Payne Avenue and opened the summer of 1928.
 It was closed in 1944.

Other White Castle Locations from 1928 to 1934:

 ·         172 E. 6th St. - opened in the fall of 1928. It was located near where the Galtier Plaza stands today.

 ·         89 W. 7th St/385-395 Auditorium- existed from 1929-1959. Today would be located across from the Excel Energy Center.

 ·         470 St. Peter St.

 ·         615 University Ave.

 ·         548 & 548 1/2 Wabasha Ave.

 Other locations after 1934:

 ·         1085 University Ave -opening in 1937

·         505 Rice St near University Ave

·         1945 University Ave –opening in the 1930's

 Today White Castles are located at 1120 University Ave. and 505 Rice St. and 1605 White Bear Ave.  



Might you know who might know something about a pedestrian stairway that starts on the south side of Summit Avenue between Western and Selby Avenues, travels eastward (and downward) across 35E, continues between two buildings of United Hospital, and ends at Smith Street?  I’m wondering:

 Does it have a name?  If so, what is it?
Who built it?

Mike Gottsacker



The stairs you are referring to are often called the "Walnut Street Steps".
The path begins at Summit Avenue and travels between the James J. Hill house and his son, Louis, home.
 It continues down the hill and across 35E ending near United Hospital.  

James J. Hill purchased the land along Walnut Street in 1899 and had Walnut Street (between Irvine Avenue and Summit Avenue) vacated in 1901.
James Hill than paid the city $7,218.28 to construct a public walk and steps where the street had been.



I am looking for the name of the diner that was located on Rice Street in 1972.  This diner was known for their coney islands or chili dogs and was located between University and Charles.  We have company from Arizona this week and they were talking about what they did or liked to do in the past when they lived in MN and one of their favorite places was this diner.  However, they are being haunted by the fact that they cannot remember the name of this diner.  They also said this diner might have been located where the present White Castle is on Rice.  Hope you can help us out because searches on the web have proved fruitless.

Rita M. Brown



We can't be sure but here are a few possibilities:

West side of Rice St:
488 Rice Capitol Bar – Tavern

East Side of Rice St:  
517 Rice St. – Kathys Café
538 Rice St. – Karolina Kitchen restaurant

 You may already know, but the most popular place for Coney Island style hot dog in St Paul was the Original Coney Island located at 444-448 St. Peter Street. The building is there, however, the restaurant closed in 1999.

There was a Coney Island Nite Spot located at 469 Dale, which would be pretty close to University Ave and Dale St.

 I hope one of these rings some bells.

Good luck on your search for your Coney Island style hot dog.



I would like to know if the Cleveland school on Jenks and Walsh St in St Paul MN was build on a cemetery  in 1885.


In 1884 the land that would become the Cleveland School was owned 1884 by the C. Schurmeier Co.
It was never used for a cemetery.
The nearest cemetery was/is the Oakland Cemetery. Approximately 1 mile to the west of Jenks and Walsh.

Cleveland Elementary school was built in 1885.
In 1890, a ninth grade was added and the school became known as Cleveland or East Side High School.
In 1894 it became a combined grade school and high school. It remained a grade and high school until Johnson High was built in 1911. Then in 1925 the school was changed to a Jr. High school.
The oldest section of the school was destroyed by a fire in 1935 and a new  building was constructed in 1937.



Dear staff:
Do You have a better picture of the St. Paul Winter Carnival Ice Palace than the one shown on the Ice Palace

Designs by Cap Wigington
Where was this Palace located and was it really built?
Thank You,
 Joseph T. Hollerbach



I am not sure what photo you are referring to but the photo at the top of this page features the ice palace in question.

Yes there was an Ice Palace (or structure) built in 1938 at Mounds Park.
However Wigington did not design it.

Wigington drew two plans for the 1938 ice palace, calling them Fort Belvedere and Windsor Castle.
Carnival planners did not choose either of Wigington’s plans.
Instead they choose architect Jack Horner’s design which highlighted a skating rink.
The rink hosted Olympic figure skater Vive-Anne Hulten.

Wigington did design the 1937, 1940, 1941, & 1942 ice palaces.

Check out the Winter 2000 issue of our magazine “Ramsey County History” to learn more about ‘Cap’ Wigington and his Ice Palace ‘Babies’



I am wondering about the house we have  lived in for 7  years, 908 Hyacinth Ave. East. I am wondering if it the oldest in our block or surrounding area?
Sarah Wellington


No,  your home at 908 Hyacinth was constructed in 1923. The oldest on the block, by our records, is 916 Hyacinth, that shows a building date of 1908. Most homes on your block look to be built around 1919-1924, with yours being one of the newest 3, built in 1923.


Dear Ask the Historian,

I found a picture of a church that says "Pacific Con. Baptism" on the back from when my grandma was baptized. I know it was on Acker St in St Paul. Can you tell me anything about the church?



St Paul City Directories 1886 to 1948
Pacific Congregational Church

This church was organized in 1882
From 1882 to 1934 it was located at 209-211 Acker St.
From 1935 to 1948 it was located at 801 Mississippi St - (basically 1 block away from last location)
The Sunday School and Pastors home were located at 215 Acker St.
Your grandma was probably baptized prior to 1934 since the address you have is on Acker St.
I did not search any further than the 1948 city directory.
The Sand born Plat Maps tell us that the Church at 209-211 Acker St had been demolished before 1955.


Dear researchers at Ramsey County Historical Society:
I have an old New York Yankees team jacket, vintage probably 1920s to 1940s, that has a label in the collar as follows: McKibbin, Driscoll & ???? St. Paul, New York, Boston 

Do your historical corporate files have any reference to a company by that name?
Many thanks
John C. Stone II


 McKibbin & Co. began in 1888 by Joseph McKibbin, Henry Hasenwinkle, Henry E Whaley, Arthur Driscoll.

It was a Wholesalers and Manufacturers of Hats, Caps, Gloves, Furs, Overcoats, Leather Jackets and Sheep Lined Coats
located on 4th St, moving to Sibley Ave and then later moved to 5th n w cor Broadway.

 William Dorsey became a partner in 1901. The name changed that same year to McKibbin Driscoll & Dorsey Inc.  

The name, McKibbin Driscoll & Dorsey Inc.,  was in large bold print in the St Paul City Directories from 1888 to 1932.
The company is last listed in the 1933 St Paul City Directory as a Hat Manufacturer (located on 5th St.). The name was listed in small print/non bold text.

 The McKibbin family continued to live in St Paul, MN after the store closed.

 My personal guess is that the company was hit hard by the after effects of the Stock Market Crash of 1929.

 SEE:  http://newyork.yankees.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/nyy/history/timeline1.jsp

"Year 1913: April: The Highlanders are officially renamed the "Yankees" after moving to the Polo Grounds, home of the National League's New York Giants".

 After finding out when McKibbin Driscoll & Dorsey Inc. was in existence with their full name AND cross referencing with the NEW YORK YANKEES website and the quoted line above, it looks like you may be able to date your jacket from 1913 to 1932.


I read the response to the question from the fellow with the Yankees jacket. 

McKibbin was Joseph Chambers McKibbin, a brother of my mother's paternal grandmother Mary McKibbin Scully.  Prior to the Civil War the McKibbins had moved from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia.  When their father died, mother Jane Brackenridge McKibbin, a Pittsburgher, moved back with her children. 

When/why JC went to Minnesota is one of those family history questions that some day may be answered.  Ditto for why he went into the clothing business.  A potential reason for the Minnesota trek was to accompany his brother William, an attorney and Presbyterian minister, who pastored a church in St. Paul. 

The store probably closed shortly after JC's death in 1931.  My research indicates he had three children:  Allison, Anne, and JC, Jr.  Allison married a gent named Charles Bigelow.  No idea what happened to Anne.  JC Jr., also died in 193; from Hodgkin's Disease.

Bill Baker



Research question,
I attended Gorman Elementary School in St. Paul on the corner of Western Ave. and Front Street in 1961. Do you have any information as to what happen to the school. It is no longer there, I 'd like to know of it's history etc.
Eugene Albrecht


Gorman Elementary School was built at 367 Front Ave. in 1885 and torn down in December of 1974.
The school was named for:
Gen. Willis A. Gorman (January 12, 1816–May 20, 1876), once Governor of Minnesota (1853-1857). Gorman was appointed Colonel of the First Regiment of Minnesota during the Civil War. Promoted to position of Brigadier General. He was elected 5 times as St Paul's City Attorney.



Can you give me any information about the St. Joseph Infant Home, or Home for Unwed Mothers? I believe the address was 341 Dale.  My mother was a resident there, admitted October 10, 1945. I was left there in December, I believe to be adopted. Was the Infant Home an Orphanage? Was the Maternity Residence only for unwed mothers, or could a woman having a difficult pregnancy go there for medical treatment as well?


Here is some historical location background on the Catholic Orphan Asylum/St. Paul Catholic Infant Home:
The Catholic Orphan Asylum was established on Third Street by the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1856-1959. In 1863 it was moved to a site at St. Joseph’s Hospital where it was operated by the Sisters in conjunction with the hospital. In 1869 it was moved to a site on Olive Street in Lowertown. In 1878 the orphaned boys living at the asylum were transferred to an institution in Minneapolis. From 1883 to 1952/53 the girls stayed at the "Catholic Orphan Asylum" orphanage at 933 Carroll. This main asylum building at 933 Carroll was brick, 3½ stories tall, and cost $34,694 to build. By 1892 this building, the boiler house and laundry, was built, as well as a 1½ story wood frame out­building. An addition was made to the main structure in 1911.  

The St Paul Catholic Infants Home was located at 341 Dales St. from 1929 to 1952/32. The Hazeldon Foundation moved into 341 Dale in 1953/54. The St Paul Catholic Infants Home moved to 933 Carroll that same year. 341 Dale St. was demolished by 1962-64 to make way for Highway 94. It was located between St Anthony and Rondo.  


  • In 1952 the orphanage on Carroll Ave. was supported by the Diocese of St. Paul and the Community Chests of the Twin Cities. It was operated by eleven Sisters of St. Joseph and housed sixty girls, ranging in age from three to sixteen years old.
  • The Catholic Orphan Asylum/St. Paul Catholic Infant Home was nicknamed Watermelon Hill".
  • Only unwed mothers had their children there. Even though discouraged, I'm sure, the unwed mothers could keep their baby.

 Try contacting Seton Catholic Charities for records
1276 University Ave W, St Paul, MN
(651) 641-1180 


 Here are a few more websites that may help:



 I hope this helps... Good Luck,


Can anyone direct me to a repository of records for the St. Paul Babies home.  The Minnesota Historical Society has financial records and minutes of meetings but I am hoping there are some records regarding babies received at the home specifically the years 1894-1895.   Thank you for any information you can provide to find these records.

 Shirley Bailey     


I am sorry, we don't know where their records are housed today. I can only give you a little history of the organization. I hope it gives you some insight.
The St. Paul Babies Home began in 1890 on Summit Ave. by a group of St Paul women. Essentially, a home for destitute, abandoned and orphaned children. 
In 1891 they moved to a house located at 846 Lincoln Ave.

A nurse was hired to care for the children and a local doctor contributed his services free of charge. By the end of the first four years, the Home had cared for 291 infants, and it was the only such facility in the city which would accept children under the age of two.  At the doctor's request, the babies were sent to homes in the country during the hot summer months.  The Home also helped the mothers of some of the babies to find jobs either outside or in the facility. 

 Some of the babies at the Home were eventually adopted or claimed by their family or friends, though a few died.  It is not known how long the Babies Home was operated, but by 1932 the property is listed in the city directory as apartments. 


I have attached a photo of the house
(taken in 1980).

I have been in deep discussion about Grocery Stores (their customer service, who has the best selection, carts and grocery bags) with my friends today. I know, we are an odd bunch. I wonder if you can help me out. I heard that grocery bags originally were invented here in St Paul, do you know?

Thanks, S. T. Ailgater


The Deubner Shopping Bag 

Walter H. Deubner ran an old-style grocery store in St. Paul, and he was looking for a way to give his business a boost. By careful observation, he noticed that his customer’s purchases were limited by what they could conveniently carry home. So he set about devising a way to help them buy more purchases at one time. It took him four years to develop the right solution: a prefabricated package, inexpensive, easy to use-and strong enough to carry a lot of groceries.

 The package consisted of a paper bag with cord running through it for strength.

He patented his product and within three years, by 1915, was selling over a million shopping bags a year.

Today you may use brown paper bags with cord or paper handles. 



I am wondering if you have any photos of the Rose Drive-In Theater that once stood on Snelling and County Road C.

Phil Stanley
Apple Valley


We do not have any photos of the drive-in  in our collection.
The Minnesota Historical Society has two.

Use this link to connect to the MN Historical Society's Visual Database http://collections.mnhs.org/visualresources/

It was built in 1950, had parking for up to 650 cars.


I would love to get some information on my grandfather and the information about how he died. Here is what I know:

It pertains to the explosion of 3M or (Minnesota Mining and Manufacture) in I believe 1950 in St. Paul. I have tried to do some research on a Fire/explosion and typing in 1950 and 3M and nothing comes up. Do you have any record of this happening in St. Paul.

 My grandmother was 8 months pregnant with my mother so I am thinking it happened in January or Feb. 1950 (but don't quote me on this - it could have been Dec. of 1949)

Please let me know if you have any type of information on this.
Thank you
Stacy Stibal



From the book A Century of Innovation - The 3M Story ( 2002)
The Day “the Mining” Blew Up

 At 8:20 a.m. on Thursday, February 8, 1951, a massive gas explosion rocked three 3M buildings at the corner of Arcade and Fauquier Streets on St. Paul’s East Side. About 4,000 3M employees had just reported for work. The explosion started in Building 12, a six-story structure where minerals were crushed and treated in ovens heated with butane. The blast swept through underground tunnels and damaged a neighboring tape packing plant as well as 3M’s main office building. Fifteen people died and 49 others were injured in St. Paul’s worst disaster. Two sides of the minerals building were blown out and employees were pinned under falling floors, walls and ceilings.

“Mobilizing its forces quickly’ the St. Paul Dispatch newspaper reported, “the company assigned one man to each victim’s family to work with them as long as necessary. A $25,000 emergency fund was set up to pay for taxi fares to hospitals, baby sitters, transportation of relatives from out of town, telegrams to survivors, funeral costs and whatever else was needed.”

3M also created an emergency aid committee. “The idea was to help families reestablish themselves,” Ivan Lawrence, vice president, Personnel, told the Dispatch. “We were determined not to make them dependents, but to help keep them on an even keel and restore their lives as close as possible to what they were before the explosions.”

The company quickly made sure that workers’ compensation and insurance payments, as well as company benefits, were paid to the survivors. 3M also contacted the U.S. Office of Social Security to speed up payments. Since the day after the blast was a payday, a special pay­master’s window was created to distribute wages on time.

Damage to 3M property totaled about $1 million but settling that claim was a distant second to caring for 3M people and their families. “The company just took care of people,” said John Pitblado, branch sales man­ager, Los Angeles, at the time. Pitblado later retired as president, U.S. Operations.


Could you give me some information on whom Holman Field was named after.  I am researching a distant relative named Walter Holman who was born in the early 1900's and wondering whether he could be related.

Thank you. Betty


Holman Field was named for Charles W. "Speed" Holman (1898 to 1931). 
Stunt pilot, barnstormer, wing walker, parachutist, airmail pilot, aviation record holder and airline pilot.  

Charles W. Holman He was born in Bloomington, MN.
By the age of 18 he was nicknamed "Speed", after winning motorcycle races at the Minnesota State Fair.
His dad bought him his first airplane.He was the first pilot hired by Northwest Airways in 1926.
In 1928, Charles set a world's record of 1,433 consecutive loops in an airplane in five hours over the St. Paul Airport (later named for him). 
By 1930 "Speed" was the feature attraction at the State Fair. 
He tragically died at an air show in Omaha in 1931.

 Here are a couple of websites with more information on this historic aviator:



 We have minimal information on a Carl J. Holman from Mankato, an Oliver P. Holman of Mpls, an Oscar E. Homan of St Paul. If you are related to any of them I can send you a little info that may help.


My mother attended Eastern Heights school for grades 1-3 in about the years 1922-1926. Is there any information on the history of the school from about that time? She said each grade was in a different wooden building.

Thanks!  -  Milli


Eastern Heights Elementary School is located on the northwest corner of Ruth Street at 2001 Margaret Street, out near Ruth Street and Minnehaha.

 Unfortunately we do not have any photos of this school in our collection.The only resource we have here to visually look at the school during the time frame of 1922-1926 are Sanborn Plat Maps. I looked at 1916 and 1927.

The 1916 plat map shows a spot saved for the school but the school wasn't actually built until 1919 (resource: permit index card). The school was built on top of a pond!

 The 1927 plat map shows there were 3 buildings on the property, one was said to have a wooden roof.  

By 1930 the school buildings were either torn down or moved to make way for the newer brick school structure. Additions were made in 1952 and 1970 (resource: permit index card).

 You could also try contacting the St Paul Central Library "St Paul Collection", located on the 2nd floor in downtown St Paul. They have a fabulous yearbook collection, maybe they have this elementary school OR you may want to see her high school yearbook. 


I have a very old velvet jacket; it has a lot of hand sewing.  It was given to me by a friend many years ago. She has since passed on. I ran across the jacket the other day it has a tag sewn in that reads Martin Giesen Theatrical Costumer St. Paul, Minn. It appears to be very old. Do you know of this person?              
Thanks,  Phyllis Royce



Giesen Costume Company - 1872 to 1970
Theatrical and Masquerade Costumes, Theatrical Wigs, Make-Ups, Etc., of All Kinds. Always in stock: Masks, Wigs and beards, Gold and Silver Lace, Spangles, Grease, Paints and Make-Up boxes, Complete Costumes for Popular Operas, Cantatas and Oratories

 Martin Giesen was the youngest of four sons to Peter J. and Marie Giesen. Peter was a bookbinder, president of the Volkszeltung Printing and Publishing Company and bound books for the West Publishing Company. Marie was a costume and dress designer with a shop at 37 W 3rd St (Now Kellogg Ave). Both Martin and his mom, Marie, were involved in the Giesen Costume Company while his brothers became an accountant, a bookbinder and a clerk. Peter and Marie’s home, from 1891 to 1907, was/is located at 827 Mound Street, then they moved to 184 Summit Ave. Martin married Olga Hilbert in 1904. Peter died in 1915, the same year Martin’s only daughter was born. Martin and Olga lived with his mother Marie until 1923 when they purchased their own home at 1540 Lincoln Ave. Marie died in 1929. Martin and Olga managed the company from 1904 to when he died in 1943. Olga sold the company in 1960, she died not long after. The new owners only kept it afloat till 1970.

Your velvet jacket probably dates after 1905 when the company changed hands from the mom Marie to the son Martin.

We have a fascinating article on the Giesen Family and their Costume Company in the Winter 1994 issue of the  “Ramsey County History”  magazine, which you may consider purchasing for only $8. Just give us a call if you are interested in it.  



Can you tell me anything about St Colomba's School building?


St Colomba's School was built in 1922 .The building permit estimates the cost as $100,000. Father Case, a priest, acted as the general contractor because he believed all the other contractors bids were too high. 
 It was designed by architect John H. Wheeler. Wheeler spent 14 years in offices of Twin Cities architects, including 7 years with Clarence Johnston Sir. In 1901-1902 he was in charge of the Building Inspection Department of the City of St Paul. He maintained his own architectural office beginning in 1902. He designed nearly 20 buildings for the Sisters of St Joseph Carondelet. To name a few: St. Marks Church Rectory, the Auditorium, Novitiate, power house, laundry and Whitby Hall at St. Kate's, the main bldg at Derham Hall. An addition was added to the St. Columba school in 1931.


When did Adolph Bremer die and what was the cause?   
He died of a heart attack in Seattle, Washington while on a business trip on October 9, 1939.
He is buried at  Calvary Cemetery, St Paul.


Since we have received so many questions about the Union Depot....

St. Paul’s Union Depot
Ramsey County History,
Winter 1991 Volume26, #4

 Troop trains leaving St. Paul’s Union Depot carried young men and women into service during World War II and the Korean War. This w is the city’s second Union Depot. The first was built in 1879 near the site of the St. Paul and Pacific railroad’s little depot on Third between Jackson and Sibley streets at a time at a time when at least twelve sepa­rate rail lines threaded in and out of St. Paul.

 The first Union Depot was a massive Victorian structure that cost $125,000 and remained a city landmark for almost forty years. It opened in 1881, but it was damaged by fire in 1884. By 1889, after it was rebuilt, the depot was handling 8 million passengers a year and up to 268 trains daily.

 However, in this heyday of the railroad era and of the great rail networks that linked the nation coast-to-coast, the expanding railroad industry began to out-grow the first depot almost as soon as it opened. By the 1880s, plans for a new de­pot were being coordinated by Great Northern President James J. Hill.

 Hill died in 1916, the year before construction began on the new Union Depot at Fourth and Sibley streets. World War I. however, delayed construction and the 250,000 square foot terminal was not completed until 1923. In the meantime the old passenger terminal was gutted by fire; passengers made-do with a shed-like remnant. 

The new depot was designed by Chicago architect, Charles Frost. It was built by Toltz Engineering Company, with Colonel Fred Mears as supervisor and George C. Grant Construction Company of St. Paul.  The depot is a simple, rather severe example of Neo-classical style of architecture often used in public buildings during the first half of twentieth century.  

A colonnade of ten Doric columns separates its identical left and right wings on the exterior. The interior, of Kasota dolostone,  pink Tennessee marble, gray Missouri marble and reinforced concrete, was lavishly decorated with travertine murals and reliefs depicting the history of transportation in Minneso­ta. A long brick concourse extending south spanned seventeen tracks and Kel­logg Boulevard. 

It is perhaps an irony of history that the Union Depot opened ill the wailing years of the railroad age, when automobiles, trucks, buses and, eventually, air­craft would begin to compete for the passenger and freight that had been the life-blood of the railroads. Use of the Union Depot for passenger traffic ended in the early 1970s and the depot remained closed for twelve years. Plans for its re­use came and went. A massive restoration project headed by St. Paul architect, Craig Rafferty, began in 1983.

I lived a few years at 599 Sims when I was young. Could you help me with any information about that property, and why the street was named so. The original house was demolished about 1980.
Or, how about a duplex that was directly across the street at approx 600 Sims (don't know the exact address and it has also since been demolished), I lived in that house for the first 5 years of my life.
Also, up the street was a business known as the St. Paul Statuary (did I spell it right?), any information as to this business and what happened to it?
Thanks a TON, I am a total St. Paul history freak, and go into a whole different world when I read of anything historic related to the area.
 Henry Feist


Some say Sims Avenue (named in 1872) was named for John Sims, a Carpenter from Canada who may have invested in this property.  
 St. Paul Statuary Company was located at 620 Sims. The company was founded in 1905. In the late 1950's it merged with the Brioschi Studios  located at 908-910 University Avenue and  Carlquist and Son which was founded in 1902. Amerigo Brioschi  from the Brioshi Studios served as the president. It was still around in 1977 when it did repairs to the cathedral. I am not sure if they are still around.
 You are right both the addresses you are looking for are now gone. Tax records list housing/condos being built on these lots in 1994. We found no other reference to these homes.

We recently purchased 930 Albemarle Street Saint Paul. Records show it was built in 1888.
1. Where does this house "rank" in some dust covered list in the 25 or 50 oldest houses still standing in Saint Paul?
 2. Was this home built as a Farm house or is there any history along these lines on it?
 Thank you VERY MUCH!
Georgia Schneller
Saint Paul


The earliest houses here in St. Paul are from the late 1840s. 
Ramsey County tax records have 930 Albermarle being built in 1886. 
It is not likely that your home was built as a farm house.
Most homes in this area are close in age to yours, the oldest 3 all being built in 1880 are 940, 944, and 941Albermarle.
948 Albermarle was built in 1884.
929,933, 925, Albermarle were built in 1886.
945 Albermarle was built in 1888.
and 932 Albermarle was built in 1900.

Most of the North End was settled extensively in the 1870's and 1880's. Areas of the North End were annexed by the city of St. Paul when the city limits were changed in 1872, 1873, 1885, and 1887.

Rice Street  was serviced by a major streetcar line. This line was established as early as 1887.

Visit this link to learn more about your neighborhood.


Dear Librarian:
Can you tell me what years the Robert St. Bridge and Wabasha St. Bridge were first built across the Mississippi River.

I've seen old photos from the MN Historical Society archives dated around 1900 and can see the railroad bridge only.

Jackie Hilgert
Bloomington, Minnesota


Click here for info on the Robert Street Bridge 

The current Wabasha Street bridge was opened for traffic on July 15th 1998. It's predecessor was a 1898 circa cantilevered truss bridge. The original bridge was a toll bridge built around 1859.



Can you tell me the name of the newspaper(s) which would have covered St. Paul around 1898-1900 and where they are archived? 
Jean Burda



Around that timeframe were the St Paul Pioneer Press, The St Paul Globe

You can find the St Paul newspaper collection on microfiche on the 3rd floor of the St Paul Central Library. Located at 90 West Fourth Street, Saint Paul, MN 55102 - copies cost 25 cents per page printed.



What is the rather "sizeable" manmade stone structure on Como Ave, just east of Buelah Lane and across from Como Avenue MucMurray Field? It has been fenced in, and it looks like the ruins of a chapel.


This large stone fireplace named the Joyce Kilmer Fire Place, also known as the Como Park "Dutch Oven" was donated by the Joyce Kilmer Post, Fourth District of the American Legion in June 1936.

Joyce Kilmer, the Poet (1886 - 1918) - Author of Trees and Other Poems.

It is almost hidden in a wooded area just west of the Como Park swimming pool. Area is bounded by Como Ave. on the south side, Horton to the north, Beulah Lane on the west.

The three stone arches were originally from old drinking fountains which stood in the area behind the park office.

This whole area was dedicated as an arboretum, originally there was the Joyce Kilmer Pool, and a sign hung on an Oak tree with Kilmer's poem.-Both of these have been removed.

Newspaper Articles: June 28, 1936 Pioneer Press
 June 30, 1969 St Paul News
Nov 10, 1977 St Paul Dispatch

I know there's a Selby Avenue in St. Paul. I'm guessing it was named in honor of a Mr. Selby. Can you tell me anything about him? Thanks.


Jerimiah W. Selby  (1812-1855) Came to St. Paul in 1849 and purchased a  $50 forty-acre farm on St. Anthony Hill where the St. Paul Cathedral now stands. On this land Selby built a house and made a  living raising potatoes and vegetables. The street was named in 1854.



How did Rice Park get its name and when was it established?  

Lou Suski



Rice Park is one of St. Paul's oldest parks, dating from 1849. Three public squares were donated to the city of St. Paul for park purposes in 1849. They were Rice Park, donated by Henry M. Rice; Smith Park, (now known as Mears) donated by Cornelius S. Whitney and Robert Smith; and Irvine Park, donated by John R. Irvine.
Henry Mower Rice was a prominent pioneer from Minnesota coming to the area first as a fur trader. He became the territory's delegate to the U.S. congress (1853-1857). Rice was an early developer of St. Paul and became a successful businessman , and promoted both St. Paul and Minnesota. He was appointed a U.S. senator when Minnesota became a state in 1858. Rice County in Minnesota and Rice Street in St. Paul are also named in honor of Henry Mower Rice. He is also said to have built the first residence on Summit Ave.


Roy Wilkins Auditorium and who dedicated it - that name? Who was the Mayor of Saint Paul in 1984?
Sharon Roberts


The Mayor was George Latimer who served from 1976-1990.

The original St. Paul Auditorium construction began in 1903 and was finished in 1907. It was located between 4th and 5th Street and was designed by AH Stem. This building could be converted into one large area or partitioned to smaller needs.

In 1932 the auditorium arena was opened, located just west of the original building." Cap" Wigington, the first Black American municipal architect, designed the addition.

Conversion and renovation of the original hall began just after the opening on the auditorium arena in 1932.

Beginning in 1963 plans & studies were underway on additions and renovations to this site.

In 1967 the Civic Center complex was in the making including the original bldgs which would be attached by concourses to a larger structure including a hockey arena. This complex opened in 1972.

The original building was closed by the city's bldg department in 1979 and was torn down in November of 1982.

The 1932 addition lived on.

In 1982 the Roy Wilkins Memorial Task Force was appointed by Mayor George Latimer in response to a request for a memorial to Wilkins made by the St. Paul Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The task force headed by Joanne Englund a Public Works Department employee submitted a final report to the mayor on April 14, 1983, suggesting the auditorium of the St. Paul Civic Center, then under reconstruction, be renamed the Roy Wilkins Auditorium. A City Council resolution to that effect was passed on December 1, 1983. It was publicly renamed Roy Wilkins Auditorium in 1984.

Roy Wilkins auditorium was renovated in 1986.


 Any information on St Columba's School? 


St Columba's School was built in 1922 .The building permit estimates the cost as $100,000. Father Casey, a priest, acted as the general contractor because he believed all the other contractors bids were too high. 
 It was designed by architect John H. Wheeler. Wheeler spent 14 years in offices of Twin Cities architects, including 7 years with Clarence Johnston Sir. In 1901-1902 he was in charge of the Building Inspection Department of the City of St Paul. He maintained his own architectural office beginning in 1902. He designed nearly 20 buildings for the Sisters of St Joseph Carondelet. To name a few: St. Marks Church Rectory, the Auditorium, Novitiate, power house, laundry and Whitby Hall at St. Kate's, the main bldg at Derham Hall. 
An addition was added to the St Columba school in 1931.


What is the Engine House #13 at 926 Hampden currently being used for?


It was built in 1894 and put into use in 1895 with 2 regular firemen and 2 volunteers. This station was one of the last in the city to use horse-drawn engines which were replaced at Engine #13 by motorized engines in 1924. In 1978 Engine Company #13 was transferred to a new station at 1924 Como Ave along with Engine Company #23 and Medic Company #23 and in 1981 this building was converted for use as a ceramic studio and residence after neighborhood groups expressed interest in preserving the building.

You can find an article: "Stamina Turns Fire Hall into Artist's Dream" in the St Paul Pioneer Press, March 8, 1981, p. M1,4. This article may be found at the Central Library on their micro-fiche or from the St Paul Pioneer Press web-site (for a fee) www.twincities.com

 My father worked for Auto Engine Works in 1946, located, I believe, on Hamline Avenue. What information do you have regarding this company? Did the business move, or did it go out of business and when?

Robert Gliske, Nephi, Utah


Auto Engine Works was located at 349 Hamline at St. Anthony. The buildings are no longer standing.

A list of their services are as follows:
Marine reverse gears, reduction gears and angle drives for gasoline and diesel Marine engines "Mooney" Quad-valve cylinder heads for gas and diesel rail car engines Manufacturers and designers of: Spur, Helical, Bevel, Worm International, Herringbone, Capitol

A list of their primary staff members:
J.D. Mooney, Pres
O.C. Priess, Vp
W.J. Broughton, Sec
F. S. Meyer, Tres


What is the correct name for Mechanics?



Often called Mechanics or Mechanic Arts or even MAHS was officially known as the George Weitbrecht Mechanic Arts High School. George Weitbrecht was the principal of MAHS 1896 to 1916.
My great uncle had a meat market on the corner of Lafond and Arundel streets.  Is it
still there?  
Thank you for any help you can give me. 
Marlene Dickrell


Does the building your great uncle had a meat market in still exist...
On the Northwest corner of Lafond & Arundel is a Rambler style house built in 1976.
On the Southwest corner of Lafond & Arundel is a Rambler style house built in 1976.
On the Northeast corner of Lafond & Arundel is a empty lot.
Your Great Uncles shop could have been located on one of these corners and is now destroyed.
The structure on the southeast corner of Lafond & Arundel was built in 1890 as a commercial/apartment building.
The original owner to the building was Charles Plebuch who operated a saloon in the building and lived above in the apartments. 
The building was designed by George Bergmann and Kohn Fischer. Major alteration and or additions were made to this building in 1907 and 1926. The building is now used exclusively for apartments. There is a chance that you great uncle's business was in this structure, but we would need further information to confirm this. (his name, the address, an actual year) 

Merton P. Backlund wrote Ramsey County Historical Society to share his memories of the store.

I remember this store.  I lived at 401 Lafond in 1947 or so.

Rudy's Grocery store was on the SE corner of Lafond and Arundel and had an extensive butcher shop/meat market in the rear of the store.  I believe the store owner was Rudy Mottl. (Spelling may be incorrect)  It is listed in the city directory of that time.

So yes your uncles store is still standing.


Could you please tell me when the McDonough Housing Project was completed and ready for occupancy?  My grandmother moved in as soon as it was completed and I am trying to determine when that was. 

Thanks for your time and help.
Robert Gliske

The McDonough Homes was St. Paul’s first subsidized rental housing community, dedicated by John J. McDonough in September of 1951. Most of the buildings at the McDonough site were built in the early 1950’s to provide affordable homes during the housing shortage following World War IIThe first people to move in were an injured World War II veteran, his wife and three children. The Mississippi Elementary School was built in September 1951 and located on the northeast corner of the site.  Brick Apartment buildings were added along L’Orient and Arlington in 1959 and 1965. Many changes and improvements have occurred at the site over the years including the addition of a community center.


I am doing research on Hermann Kretz and his style. I am especially interested in learning about 'The Colonial' presently located on 579 Summit Ave. What is the historical significance of this building? Is it representative of Kretz' usual architectural finesse or is this building an aberration? Any other work that comes to your mind that would be the better examples of Hermann Kretz' style??
Thank you so very much.


Herman Kretz was born in Essen Germany in 1860. He attend school in Germany before he came to the US in 1882 finally coming to St. Paul in 1887. He specialized in the design of commercial structures and apartment buildings. Kretz operated a real estate business as well as his architectural practice. He owned and managed several of the buildings he designed. Kretz designed in many styles.
The apartment structure at 579 Summit Avenue was built in 1896. Kretz was was the original owner, the architect and lived in the building as well.
Here are just a few of the buildings Kretz designed: 
Blair Flats (Angus Hotel)     Selby at Western    1887
The Elmwood                      235-237 Arundel    1894
Commerce Building            2-16 E 4th St            1911
The Waldorf                        672-676 W Summit Ave    1900 
 If you would like to see a full list make visit the Ramsey County Historical Society Research Center



 Dear Historian:  I studied piano and voice with Marguerite Stumpf in the St. Paul Bldg. on 5th St. in the 50's.  Can you tell me the history of the building and what it is used for today?  Thanks, B. Hicks, Dayton, OH.


The Richardsonian Romanesque building was built in 1889 as the Germania Bank Building. Because of rising anti-German sentiment, the name of the building was changed to the "St. Paul Building" at the time of World War I.
It was designed by J. Walter Stevens then working for Harvey Ellis.
On Summit Ave., just a short distance west of the University Club on the North side of the street (across from the old Lewellyn house (I think) with the big skylights is a house that looks like it has a coffin on the roof.

Any idea what's up with that?

Richard Bonneville

I believe you are thinking of 465 Summit it is on the north side of the street. The house was built on 1886 for William & Bertha Constans. William Constans established the Constans and Burbank Freight Co. in 1850. Constans was also involved in a wholesale grocery firm, a brewery supply co. and was a trustee of the State Savings Bank.

The house was designed by Augustus Gauger. Gauger practiced in St Paul from 1878-1929 building many structures including 6 known houses on Summit Ave.

What's up with the coffin?
Yes there is a rectangular coffin shape projecting with white swags at the peek of the roof.

No I do not believe it’s a coffin. No I do not believe that some person's remains are there. Next time you pass the house take a look at it from the side you will see that the coffin shape is really quite thin. I believe it is just ornamentation.


I really need information on the Wabasha street caves during prohibition.  I need to find out about the gangsters and the castle royal.  If you could tell me some places to look it would be a great help for my paper.
                          Thank u,   Kaylyn


The caves of Castle Royal were carved out of the river bluffs at the end of the 19th century by Albert Mouchnotte, who mined the bluffs for silica.  Mouchnotte also grew mushrooms in the caves . Later his daughter Josie and her husband William Lehmann took over the business and in 1932 began to convert the cave into a nightclub. The club's grand opening was October 26,1933. For a few years the nightclub was a popular hot spot where entertainers such as Cab Calloway performed. 
The club operated until 1940 when it closed due to financial reasons. From 1940 to 1965 it was again used for the family mushroom growing business. In 1965 the Lehmans sold the property. It was the Cliff restaurant in 1956 and 66. From 1967-71 it was the site of Harry's Broiler Restaurant and in 1972  the Cliffside Broiler Restaurant operated from the cave.   In 1972 it was renovation to recapture the look of the original Castle Royal night club.
Castle Royal and Prohibition
Prohibition officially ended on Dec. 5, 1933 which was just more then a month after the club opened. I suspected the Lehman's knew  prohibition was on its way out when they decided to turn the cave into a night club.  
Castle Royal and Gangsters
Castle Royal was reputedly a favorite of gangsters. St. Paul police chief, John O'Connor, allowed some of the FBI's most-wanted criminals to use his city as a sanctuary as long as they didn't rob local businesses or shoot up the town. Criminals such as Ma Barker, Baby Face Nelson and John Dillinger used St. Paul as a haven, reportedly spending some of time at the Castle Royal. 
I suggest you check out the book "John Dillinger slept here" by Paul Macabbe to learn more about Gangster activities in St. Paul.


I am looking for any information you may have regarding David Olmsted, who I believe was the first mayor of St Paul.  My grandmother was an Olmsted, and I'm trying to find out if David Olmsted is related.  The Olmsted genealogy book has many David Olmsteds, so if you could provide me with his middle name, birth date, etc, it would be very helpful. 
Thank you so much for any help you can give me.  Sincerely, Rod Brush

David Olmsted (1822-1861) he served as major of St. Paul from 1854-1855. He was born in Fairfax, Franklin County, Vermont, on May 5,1822, the son of Timothy Olmstead.

What is the best resource to find any existing original photos and information on a home in St. Paul? I am looking for 785 Iglehart Ave., 55104, built in 1900.
Thanks much,
Erin Sindberg Porter

The house at 785 Iglehart Avenue was constructed in 1888. The original owner and first resident of the house was James P. Adamson, a plumber with a firm located at 388 St. Peter in downtown St. Paul. A building permit was issued in 1918 for repairs and alterations which cost $1,000. This maybe when the porches were added. We have no photos of this home.

I would like to make an appointment to look at some building permits as well as any information you might have on a house at 2230 West Hoyt. It was built for Gov. Elmer Andersen, in either 1950 or 1951. The architect was William Ingemann, who at that time was working for the firm of Bergstedt and Hirsch.
Penny Peterson

Well, you know more then we do. When we set out to research the house we found no building permit. The first year the house appears in the city directory is 1952. It is said to be one of the first truly modern houses built in the Saint Anthony Park neighborhood.

I suggest you contact BWBR Architects to see if they may still obtain information on this home.

BWBR was founded by Ingemann & Bergstedt.


I need the correct spelling for the Geissen's Theatrical Costumer in St. Paul. It may have been Geissen's Theatrical Costumes, I am not sure. And, where was that located in St. Paul?

Sandra Weinberg


Giesen's is listed simply as Giesen's in the 1952 city Directory. There address was listed as  8 E 6th St Room 207, which was the Midland Bldg at the corner of 6th and Wabasha it was demolished in 1967.


I recently learned that St. Paul was built on seven hills - does the Ramsey County Historical Society have any information about this and / or possibly a map of the hills. I know the Cathedral and Capital are built on two of them, but would love to discover more about this!

Many thanks!
Cathy Schneeman


Dayton's Bluff, Mounds Blvd SE - I94 through Mounds Park
Cathedral Hill (Formerly St. Anthony Hill), Summit & Selby Ave
Capitol Hill, Auroura Ave between Wabash & Cedar
Crocus Hill (includes Ramsey Pleasant/Grand Hills), S End Dale to Crocus Place
Prospect Park (includes South Wabasha Hill), West Side at Hall Ave, Prospect Blvd
Williams Hill (was mined for sand & gravel), N of University at Mississippi
Mount Airy (formerly Bass Hill), N Jackson & Mt Airy


We just spoke on the phone and I an trying to take some photographs of various interesting details of Art Deco buildings. I would like to confine my search to St. Paul, and the closer to downtown the better. Any information would be appreciated.

Thank You in Advance,
Brian Borchardt


Just a few art deco buildings....
 Holman Field Buildings, Bayfiels St
Highland Theater, 760 Cleveland
Grandview Theater, 1839 Grand
Jewish Ed Center (now condo) 741 Holly
Courthouse, 15 W Kellogg Blvd
Tri State Telephone Bldg, 59 Kellogg
Main Post office, 180 Kellogg Blvd
1st National Bank, 332 Minnesota St
St Paul Women City Club/Jemne Bldg, 305 St Peter
Commercial bldg, 308 N Snelling
Farmers Grain Terminal Headquarters, 1667 Snelling
Minnesota Milk co/ Old home, 370-380 University
St. Paul Casket, 1222 University
Coke Bottling Plant, 84 S Wabasha St
NSP Bldg, 360 N Wabasha
Elvgren Paints, 137-139 8th St
Pilneys, 1032 W 7th


Both my parents worked at the Toni Company located in St. Paul in the early 1950's.  My parents met each other at the Toni Company and married shortly after.  Can you tell me where the Toni Company was located?  
Best regards, 
Connie Hooge

The Toni Company was founded in St. Paul in 1944 as the first home-permanent wave company in the country. The product was developed originally for beauty shops, but a conflict arose when one contingent of the business began selling it to the home market. After the other side sold out, Toni products were marketed only to homes. In 1948 Toni became a division of Gillette.

They were located at 310 E 4th Street


What was the school mascot of Mechanic Arts High School, please. 
 Sylvia Stoehr


A Cogwheel was the symbol or say logo of the school. The schools newspaper was also called the cogwheel. I have found no reference to a mascot or people with memories of an actual mascot.
If any one remembers one please let us know!
Any  information on a Dr. Theissen at Mounds Park Hospital in 1954?



Mounds Park Hospital was located at 200 Earl Street.
Hubert H. Theissen is listed in the city directory as a physician at Miller Hospital in 1954. His wife was named Armoryl. They lived at 1475 St. Clair.

HUBERT H. THEISSEN was born June 4 1923 in New Ulm, Minnesota.
His wife ARMORYL YVONNE KEENEY was born March 15 1925 in Fort Dodge, Iowa.
CATHERINE ANN THEISSEN, born May 4, 1951, Minneapolis, Minnesota
GREGORY JOHN THEISSEN, born August 30, 1952, Fort Monroe, Virginia
GEORGE ALTON THEISSEN, born September 4, 1953, Minneapolis, Minnesota
MARK JOSEPH THEISSEN, born February 4, 1956, Rapid City, South Dakota
DAVID GERARD THEISSEN, born November 15, 1957, Rapid City, South Dakota

It appears that they moved to and stayed in Rapid City, SD.
Dr. Theissen worked at St. Johns Macmanara and I believe is still alive and living in Rapid City.


I'm looking for any info on a Good Shepard Home for Unwed Mothers that was located in St. Paul. Possibly, what dates it was in operation, is it still in operation, or any other info you can give me. Thank you so much.

Jeannie Eddy


The Sisters of the Good Shepherd began their work in an eight room cottage at Smith and 7th Street in 1868. It was a Female Reformatory, The police department had an arrangement with the sisters "to accept and hopefully to rehabilitate female offenders rather than sentencing them to serve time in the common jail." They counseled girls for "general incorrigibility"; shoplifting, truancy & runaway. It is said to be the oldest such institution in Minnesota. In 1887 a huge red brick sanctuary was built at 931 Blair between Victoria and Milton.

In 1969 the home moved out towards North Oaks between Turtle Lake & Charley Lake. The building at 931 Blair was destroyed.

They still exist …

Home of the Good Shepherd
Contemplative Sisters of the Good Shepherd
5104 Hodgson Rd
Saint Paul, MN 55126-1229
(651) 690-0714


I am wondering if you can tell me the name(s) of any hospitals that were in existence in St. Paul, MN in 1945.

I was born in Ramsey County, St. Paul, MN in October 1945. My birth may have been at a county hospital, but I am not sure, as my birth mother gave me up for adoption right away.

A list of hospitals in 1945...
Ancker Hospital (City & County,) 465 Jefferson
Bethesda Hospital, 559 Capital Blvd
Cherokee Sanitarium, 334 Cherokee Ave
Children Hospital, 311 Pleasant Ave
Gillette State Hospital for Cripple Children, 1003 Ivy Ave 
Midway Hospital, 1700 University 
Miller Hospital, 125 College 
Mounds Park Hospital, 200 Earl St 
Northern Pacific Beneficial Assn Hospital, 1515 Charles 
St. John's Hospital, 390 Mounds Blvd 
St. Joseph's Hospital, 69 West Exchange
St. Luke's Hospital, 287 N Smith
Salvation Army Booth Memorial Hospital, 1471 Como Ave 
Samaritan Hospital, 145 W College Ave Summit Ave 
Rest Hospital, 1079 Summit Ave
United States Veterans Administration, Fort Snelling
West Side General Hospital, 225-235 Prescott
Wilder Amherst Dispensary, 270 Rice St

Good Luck on your search!


I'm trying to find out what high school my mother attending during the years of 1964-1966. Now I know she lived in St Paul and the school tassel was Blue and White. And I believe she graduated in the year of 1966. 

Sheila Talbot

Mechanic Arts school colors were blue and white, some folks say blue and silver.  Mechanic Arts High school had an 80 year run, from 1896 'till its final class in 1976.

It was torn down in 1987 to, make way for a state building. The building was at 97 East Central Avenue (now Constitution) right behind the capital.

I cannot thank you enough for the great work you people do there ....
Thank you thank you .

What information is do you have on the Foote Schultz shoe factory in St. Paul in the early 1900`s my great grandmother and sister worked there before they were married in 1903.

Thank you so much for everything you do . Jim ( Wichita , Kansas )



In 1858 Silas B. Foot & George Sterling formed a partnership in Red Wing Minnesota to manufacture boots and shoe.

In 1881 Foot moved part of the shoe business to St Paul. Foot joined Theodore Schulze in organizing Foot, Schulze Co. which was first housed at 233-239 Kellogg at Wacota. The company specialized in the manufacture and distribution of more refined "city" shoes. In 1913 the company learned that its building would soon have to go to make room for the new Union Depot.

The new building at 500 N Robert Street was constructed in 1916.

Silas Foot continued to commute every weekday from his home in Red Wing for most of his life. Silas son E. H. Foot took over operations of the shoe company in Red Wing, which eventually became the Red Wing Shoe Company in 1905.

The building at 500 N Robert Street is still standing and is currently used as a warehouse and for artist's studio spaces. 


Can you tell me anything about The Saint Paul Omnibus Line which operated in the 1870's. I believe it was a stagecoach owned by a J.B. Cook.

Thank you,
Barbara Davis


J.B. was born Oct 12, 1818 in Oneida county N.Y., son of Peter and Ester (Burrows) Cook. He accompanied his parents to Pennsylvania in 1828, where for several years he carried on merchandising. At Buffalo, New York, August 30th, 1853, he was married to Miss Ellen E., daughter of Commodore Stephen Cha-plan, of the United States navy. They had one son, Stephen Champlain; he was in business with his father.

Mr.. Cook was educated in public schools and academy Erie Pa. He became a clerk and later worked in a dry goods business in Erie Pa until 1855; moved to Minnesota 1855 and was partner of Governor Alexander Ramsey in the mill and land business; founded the town of Champlin; returned to St Paul and engaged in a commission business with J W Simpson until 1862; served through Civil War.

In 1864 he purchased over two hundred feet of ground on Third street, opposite the Merchant's hotel, and established his first livery business. His trade at that time was quite limited owing to a limited demand, but with the increasing population and the rapid growth of the country, he acquired, finally, quite a lucrative trade, so much so, that in 1868 he deemed it expedient to add a limited omnibus line, which he did with success. The St Paul Omnibus Line, also known as JNO. B. Cook & Son, Omnibus, Carriage and Baggage Transfer Co., by 1907 was known as Cook’s St Paul Omnibus and Carriage Co, of which he was president

In 1871 he erected a stone barn 50xl25 feet, three stories in height, at Nos. 113 and 115 Third street. This has gradually increased until now it is the most extensive omnibus line in the state. When Mr. Cook erected his barn, Fourth street had not yet been opened from Jackson to Rosabel street, he accordingly graded the street in front of his building at a considerable expense. He has taken much pains in making his establishment as well as the grounds quite attractive, having shade trees planted in front which gives it a most pleasing and tasteful appearance.

Cook, John B, St Paul, resided at the Ryan Hotel, with an office at 131 E 6th St.


I'm looking for information on a company called Kempien Novelty Company in St Paul.

I have acquired a pair of "jingle dice" that has this company and St Paul, MINN Pat Pend. stamped on them. I believe that they are likely from the turn of the century.

Thanks for any help you can give me.



The Kempien Novelty Company first appears in the city directory in 1914 they where housed at the 141 Endicott Arcade.

In 1924 they moved to 354 7th Street east



 What is the beautiful building on the south West Corner of Selby and Western?
I believe it is called the Blair Arcade.


The Blair Flats, a massive stone landmark occupying the southwest corer of the Selby and Western Avenue intersection, have been a fixture of the Cathedral Hill neighborhood for more than a century. Built in 1887 at a cost of $300,000, the building was commissioned by Frank P. Blair, secretary of the St. Paul Improvement Company, as an apartment building with storefronts on the first floor. It was designed by local builders Hermann Kretz and William H. Thomas in the High Victorian or Queen Anne style of many of the elegant homes that still dot the surrounding Summit Avenue neighborhood.

Six years later, in 1893, the building was converted to a residential hotel and renamed the Albion Hotel. While it was an elegant address for many of St. Paul's up-and-coming new residents, the Albion also was an important link to St. Paul's streetcar era. In 1911 Thomas Lowry, president of the St. Paul Street Railway Company, bought the Albion and renamed it the Angus Hotel. For many years Lowry's Selby Street street­car line ran along the north side of the building, heading for downtown St. Paul.

The streetcar line, in fact, outlasted Lowry's ownership of the Angus. He sold the hotel in 1918, launching it on decades of changing ownership and a gradual deterioration in condition and quality until it closed in 1971. Now, however, a new era has opened for this wonderfully orate remnant of St. Paul's Victorian era. New owners con­ducted a massive restoration of the building, restoring its original name, recreating its early splendor and re­opening it for a new generation of apartment-dwellers. Shop fronts once again surround the building's street level.

The building, as constructed, is divided by airways into four masses, two fronting on Selby and two on Western. All are nearly identical. They are lined at the first floor by the continuous band of storefronts with stone rounded arched entrances at the dividing points between each five-story section.

The rounded tower at the building's northeastern comer is its focal point. Other important features are orate pressed metal three-sided oriel win­dows which extend from the cornice above the storefront all the way to the top of the fifth floor windows. Above these is more orate decorative metal work.

In 1981, when the building was surveyed during the two-year Historic Sites Survey conducted by the Ramsey County Historical Society and the St. Paul Historic Preservation Commission, the future of the old hotel/ apart­ment house was not promising. Today it is a cornerstone of a flourishing his­toric district. Moreover, the district predates the settlement of St. Paul. This area of the city was part of the nine-mile stretch of land along the Mississippi River that the explorer, Lieutenant Zebulon Pike, acquired for the United States government in 1805 for construction of a fort.

There was little settlement, how­ever, until after Minnesota became a territory in 1849. In that year, J. W. Selby arrived in St. Paul and estab­lished a farm surrounding the site of the St. Paul Cathedral. He served in the 1852 territorial legislature, and was a city assessor and a member of the Board of Ramsey County Com­missioners. He died in 1855 at the age of forty-three.



Near the corner of Commonwealth and Como Avenues in St. Paul, there was a school located there by the name of Guderson (the spelling may vary). It was torn down around 1955 and replaced by St. Anthony Park Elementary school which is located a few blocks away. Can you give me any information on this school and do you have any pictures to share? 


These experts taken from "St. Anthony Park Portrait of a Community" by David Lanegran

On the county road (now Como) between Dooley and Langford Ave., another elementary school  was built in 1887. (The Other Elementary School being the Baker School) It was named Murray in honor of State Senator William Pitt Murrary who was very active in local politics and served as a member of city council and as a city Attorney. 

A Junior High School was built in 1925 and named Murray Junior High.  The old Murrary Grade school became the Guttersen School in honor of Gilbert Guttersen, a prominent local business man. The new Murray was able to handle more then just Jr. High students, so children in kindergarten, first & second grades who lived north of Como went there, and the children who lived south continued to go to Guttersen. The baby boom of the Twenties would be followed by a greater one in the late Forties, and in 1950, Guttersen School reached its maximum of 460 students (40 Pupils per teacher), although the schools capacity was supposed to be 360.Over crowded conditions and the deterioration of the Guttersen School building had caused concern for many years. In the early 1950s, two locations for a new school were considered: an enlarged area at Como and Hillside and the East End of Langford Park. After months of controversy, it was decided that St. Anthony Park Elementary School would be built by Langford Park. Guttersen was torn down in 1953.



 At the end of July in 1931, KSTP radio used an American Austin auto as a short wave radio station to broadcast live from the St. Paul Open golf tournament at Keller Golf Course. On the side of the car was printed, "Warren Given Inc. DOWN TOWN BRANCH Fifth and Main." What can you tell me about Warren Given? Was it a car dealership selling Austins? If not, was there an American Austin dealership in St. Paul that might have provided the car?

Thanks so much! Web searches on Warren Given have come up with nothing.


Warren Given Inc. was an auto garage & sales room.

Their 1931 Advertisement listed under Automobile Accessories parts and Manufacturers read..

Warren Given Inc.
Everything for the automobile
Garage & Sales Room
Grand At Milton Open All night
Used cars at 198 W 5th at main




Just wondering if you have any info on the Colonnade apartments. What is the history behind this building. It looks like it may have been a hotel at one point. 

Thanks! Val Struck

The Renaissance Revival Hotel at 534-554 St Peter was built in 1889. The building was extensively remolded in 1899 with new facades and a skylight. From 1891 to 1941 the Building was known by various names, such as the Colonnade, the Willard Hotel, the Alexandria Apartments, the Rex Arm Apartments and again the Willard. I was once a popular hotel, often used for conventions in the early twentieth century. It is one of the few hotels left standing on St. Peter from the period on the 1880's & 1890's when St. Peter was a major hotel district.

A disastrous fire in December 13th 1955, caused the death of a hotel chambermaid and severely damaged the building. The top two floors including an elaborate cornice were removed following this fire. There has also been alterations to the storefronts.



Just wondering if you have any information on the condos known as Panama Flats at Exchange and Chestnut Streets in St. Paul. The age of the structure, architect, photographs???

 Thank you. Joann

The brick Victorian row house known as the Panama Flats located at 226-234 S Exchange Street was built in 1886. The property was built by William Stoddard and was first known as the Stoddard Block. The flats were designed by architects George and Frank Orff and built by contractor Taylor And Craig. The estimated cost of construction was $20,000. During the late 1880's Thomas Newson, city pioneer, newspaper editor, writer, and foreign service attaché to Spain lived here.

Do you have records pertaining to the Stahlmann Brewery, the family, the mansion etc.?

Linda Murphy



Our Ramsey County History magazine carried a history of brew families in a 1980 issue.
The following is taken from the article "Beer Capital Of The State - St Paul's Historic Family Breweries" 
Author Gary Bruggemann

The Christopher Stahlman's Cave brewery was located at the corner of Fort (West Seventh) & Oneida streets. Stahlmann's facility was officially opened on July 5, 1855, in what was then the western reaches of the city and a rural wilderness paved only by a wagon trail named Fort Road. What no doubt lured Stahlmann to this particular out-of-the-way spot was the existence of both cool natural springs and caves on the property. The caves, which still exist under West Seventh Street, were eventually excavated by Stahlmann (at a cost of $50,000) to reach three levels in depth and a mile in width. An 1883 business publication described the caverns as follows: "A perfect labyrinth of rooms and cellars and under cellars three deep, reminding one of the catacombs of Rome, for none unacquainted with these subterranean vaults, with-out a guide, could grope their way through them and find their way out to daylight.

Christopher Stahlmann, the founder and developer of Cave Brewery, was described by Newsom as "a large man, slow in his movements, yet a man with a good deal of business tact and sagacity and very generally known throughout the city."' He was born to an affluent family in Bavaria in 1829, but due to the bankruptcy of his father, he emigrated to America in 1846 with only "five dollars in his pocket!" After stays in Canada, Indiana, Cincinnati, and Iowa, Christopher and his Iowa bride, Katherine Paulas, moved to St. Paul in 1855 "with just a few dollars."' From these "few dollars" Stahlmann created an enterprise that quickly became the largest brewery in Minnesota. According to available beer production records for the years 1876-1879, Stahlmann was the number one beer maker in the state. (He averaged more than 10,000 barrels of beer per year.) Although Stahlmann lost his number one position in the mid-1880s, his brewery continued to increase production, reaching a high of 40,000 barrels a year by 1884. Cave Brewery, according to an ad in an 1883 city directory, made "the finest quality lager beer" in "the most extensive brewing establishment in the state or the Northwest."' IN ADDITION TO BREWING, Christopher Stahlmann was also engaged in a variety of other activities. He was a member of the statehouse of representatives (1871 and 1873), a Ramsey County commissioner (1871) and a director of St. Paul's National German American Bank (1883)." On December 3, 1883, at the height of his career, Christopher succumbed to tuberculosis. At the time of his death his brewing operation was taking in a quarter of a million dollars of business a year. His plant consisted of five three story buildings on sixty lots (valued at $150,000), two large steam engines, three boilers, a variety of smaller machinery, and a work force of forty-seven men." The inheritors of this thriving enterprise were his wife, Katherine, and their three sons, Christopher, Jr., Henry-Conrad-Gottlieb, and Bernard U. All three sons were mature, experienced brewery workers, quite capable of carrying on their father's work. Chris and Henry C.G. had each served as the firm's treasurer, while Bernard had experience in a variety of clerical jobs. Unfortunately, however, in a short period of time the same disease that killed their father would strike down everyone of the Stahlmann brothers. Thus, tuberculosis claimed the lives of 31 year old George and 26 yearly Bernard in 1887 and of Christopher A.J., Jr., in 1894. (Christopher resided in the large wooden house at 877 West Seventh.)" During this difficult disruptive decade of 1884 to 1894, the brewery's presidency fell into the hands of Henry C.G.'s father-in-law, George Mitsch, Sr. (1854-1895), a native of Germany and the founder of St. Paul's Catholic Aid Society, who lived at 395 Daly street. Mitsch, a blacksmith by trade and a druggist by desire (as well as a former legislator and councilman), was unable to lead the brewery through the disaster of losing four key executives." In 1897, the once great Stahlmann Brewing Company went bankrupt and its last president, Charles J. Dorniden, had to sell the plant to a new enterprise, The St. Paul Brewing Company. The company existed only three years, for in 1900 the entire facility, including the beautiful stone mansion of Christopher Stahlmann at 855 West Seventh street, was sold to the Jacob Schmidt Com-pony" (formerly the North Star Brewery).


I believe I have two original photos of the North Star Brewery, then on Commercial St. & Hudson Rd. (near Carver's Cave).

I believe the photos picture the brewery, beer wagon, dog, William Constans, Jacob Schmidt, and others.....

Are any other photos known to exist of The North Star Brewery (NOT Schmidt on W7th), that I could compare with?




We have found no photos of the North Star Brewery.

 The North Star Brewery, located on Commercial near Hudson Rd, was erected by Drewery and Scott in about 1855.  This firm engaged in the manufacturing of ale, until 1857, when Mr. Scott sold his interest to Mr. Greig.  It was then operated under the name of Drewry and Greig, until 1861, when the brewery was purchased by L. B. and C Greig who engaged in the manufacturing of ale & beer. In 1867 the establishment was sold to John Holland who in time transferred it to W. Constans in 1872, at the cost of $30,000. In 1878 and 1879 Mr. Constans rebuilt and added improvements. In 1879 Constans was joined by Reinhold Koch, who was a former employee of the Stahlmann Brewery.

By the 1880's North Star Brewery was the second largest brewery west of Chicago. Jacob Schmidt joined the company as a brewmaster in the early 1880's. Schmidt bought out Koch's interest in 1884 taking over the company. Constan was more involved in his grocery business. In 1890 Schmidt hired Adolph Bremer, whom later married Schmidt's only child Maria. Bremer became president of the company in 1899, shortly after it was officially recognized as the Jacob Schmidt Brewing Company.

In 1900 the building was destroyed by fire, and the brewery moved to the old Stahlman brewery site on Fort road (7th street)

In 1954 Schmidt brewery was sold to Pfeiffer Brewing company but retained the Schmidt beer name.

...And since we are only in the business of history I will leave it at that.



Was there a Worm Brewery in St. Paul?

Rob Brown  

Not a Worm but a Wurm Brewery.
It was located on Stewart Avenue, near Jefferson. It was established by Conrad Wurm in 1873. Conrad died in 1876. His wife and son  carried on the business till she died in 1894. It is a "hand Brewery" and its capacity in 1881 was only 400 barrels a year.



My wife and I recently toured the James J. Hill Mansion; during the tour, the guide had mentioned that Hill's family had gone on to either build or live in 6 additional houses on Summit Ave.

I was curious to know which ones they were.

Patrick Huspeni

Excerpt from the article The History Behind the Louis Hill House, in our Ramsey County History Magazine, Volume 37 Number 4

"During the early decades of the twentieth century , Hill and five of his nine children had homes within a few blocks of each other, all on Summit Avenue: James J & Mary at 240; Louis & Maud at 260; Clara and Erasmus Lindley at 251; Charlotte and George Slade at 251 and later 435; Rachel & Egil Boeckmann at 505 then 421 and finally at 366; Walter Hill & wife Dorothy lived at 465."

Louis & Maud also rented the Newport house at 217 Summit (demolished) while they waited for their home at 260 Summit to be built.

From what I understand the only houses on Summit built by Hill family members are:

240 by J.J. Hill from 1888-1891
260 by Louis Hill 1902
366 by Egil & Rachel Hill Boeckmann in 1928




Do you know how many river landings were in Saint Paul at the turn of the century ?

Many thanks,



 There were two landings the Upper Landing & Lower Landing in St Paul, but the Upper Landing was not in use at the turn of the century.
The Lower Landing now called "Lamberts Landing" is located at Warner Rd at the foot of Sibley St. 
It has also been known  as the Pigs Eye Landing, Jackson St Landing, Robert's Landing, and the Lower Landing. It was officially named Lamberts Landing in 1937
The Upper landing at Chestnut St and Shepard Rd was the dock known as the "Irvine Upper Landing" or just "Upper Landing" owned by John R. Irvine. The Upper Landing didn't do as well as the "Lower Landing" and was turned into a residential housing area around the 1860's. Today it is seeing new buildings and  townhouse.


During the 1957/1958 school year I attended kindergarten at the Gibbs School. This is the little white building located across the street from the Gibbs Farm which is located at Larpenter and Cleveland streets in Falcon Heights. I know the school is still standing and it doesn't look like it's used for anything at this point.

Could you give me some history on the school? Such as when it was built, why it housed a kindergarten class, when the city stopped using it as a school, what it is used for now, etc.? Are there any plans for a use in the future?

Ann Humphrey
Casper, WY


From the Ramsey County History Magazine Volume 26 #2

The Old Gibbs School - Reminder of an Era
Across Larpenteur Avenue from the Ramsey County Historical Society's Gibbs Museum of Pioneer and Dakotah Life stands the last one-room country school house still on its original site in Ramsey county. Built in 1873 on land that once belonged to Heman Gibbs, the school was known as the Gibbs School because Gibbs, a farmer who once was a school teacher, helped or­ganized School District #16. He and his neighbors built the little school so their children, who earlier attended a small school on the southeast corner of present­ day Snelling and Larpenteur Avenues, wouldn't have so far to go to school.

Gibbs lived across Larpenteur from the school and an early teacher, Mary Lake, roomed with the Gibbs family. A room in the museum’s farm­house is still called "the Teacher's Room."

In the 1930s, the school house was renovated as part of a WPA project. Indoor restrooms, a furnace in the basement and a small work space were added when the building acquired a new entry area. The school served the area, and especially the neighborhood known as the University Grove, until 1959 when it closed its doors for the last time to students.

The University of Minnesota bought the school house from the Roseville School District and for the next thirty-two years used it as storage for University depart­ments. In September, 1990, an arsonist set I a small fire on the west side of the building, damaging it to the point where the Univer­sity has considered destroying it altogether. However, a citizens group had petitioned the University to repair the school house and help preserve it as a reminder of an era in education now long past.


What was the White House Fire and where did it occur?

Vernon D. Holmberg

On January 29th 1909 there was a huge fire that destroyed the White House Department Store and the Fey hotel at Seventh and Cedar in St. Paul.


I am looking for any information you can provide about a house at 2349 Bourne Ave. in the St. Anthony Park Neighborhood. All I know at this point is that it was purportedly built in 1913, by an owner of a department store in St. Paul.  I would greatly appreciate any additional information you might have, especially photos.
The Prairie style house at 2349 Bourne Avenue was built in 1913. The original owner was Thomas W. Mitchell, a professor. It was built at the cost of $6,000. The listed Architect was Chas. A Beckel and the building contractor is listed as Bostrand.   
We have no photos of this structure.


I am seeking information about a hotel formerly located on Fifth St. between Minnesota and Cedar.  This hotel was destroyed by fire some time between 1959 and 1965 (?).  Can you provide any information about this hotel?  Thank you.
 Edward Gordon
Stillwater MN


You are most likely referring to the Frederic Hotel at 45-49 East 5th Street. The Frederic was engulfed by flames on January 20th 1961. Unfortunately we have no other information on this particular hotel.



Was Marshall Avenue ever a continuation of Lake Street?


Depends on what you mean by continuation?

Marshall Avenue was named after William Marshall who served as governor of Minnesota from 1866 to 1870. 
The street was developed in 1855.

Lake Street was built through open fields as a cross-town highway in the 1880s.

The Marshall-Lake Street Bridge was completed in 1888, joining the two roads.

So they were built separately and meet up at the bridge none a continuation of each other but the crossing point of the bridge combined them.




My father played in Frankie Trumbauer's jazz band at the Plantation in White Bear Lake. I would like to learn more about the Plantation as well as what the town was like during that time period -- late 1920s and early 1930s. Do you have any suggestions?


Statement  from the book "the White Bear Lake Story" by Nancy L. Woolworth.

"The famed Plantation Night Club on White Bear Avenue opened its doors on July 2, 1930. On opening night the White Bear Yacht Club chef had charge of the food service and a band from Hollywood was there to play for the dancing." 

You may also want to try to contact the
White Bear Lake Historical Society 
P.O. Box 10543
White Bear Lake, MN 55110
Phone: (651) 407-5327
Fax: (651) 407-5328

White Bear Lake Historical Society website




Just wondering if you have any info on the Colonnade apartments. What is the history behind this building. It looks like it may have been a hotel at one point. 

Val Struck

The Renaissance Revival Hotel at 534 - 554 St Peter was built in 1889. The building was extensively remolded in 1899 with new facades and a skylight. From 1891 to 1941 the Building was known by various names, such as the Colonnade, the Willard Hotel, the Alexandria Apartments, the Rex Arm Apartments and again the Willard. I was once a popular hotel, often used for conventions in the early twentieth century. It is one of the few hotels left standing on St. Peter from the period on the 1880's & 1890's when St. Peter was a major hotel district.

A disastrous fire in December 13th 1955, caused the death of a hotel chambermaid and severely damaged the building. The top two floors including an elaborate cornice were removed following this fire. There has also been alterations to the storefronts.




I am doing a research project on cemeteries in the four oldest Minnesota counties. I know that Benton, Dakota, Itasca, Ramsey, Wabasha and Washington counties are the six oldest counties still in existence, being formed in 1849. I just don't know the exact dates in order to determine which are the four oldest out of those.

Can you tell me what month, and is available, day Ramsey officially became a county?

Thank you.

This sounds like a fun project, good luck...


All  6 were established on the same day-- 

OCTOBER 27, 1849

found in the: Minnesota Geographic Names by Warren Upham c-1920,1969,1979



Why is it called "Frog Town"?


I guess the name is a little odd and deserves some explanation.

One of the more popular explanations is that Frogtown is an ethnic slur aimed at the French who first settled this area. There is some historic truth to this, the area was settled by the French. An early French landowner, Benjamin Lafond, left his mark on the area by naming Lafond Avenue after himself. It is even said that some of the surrounding streets are named for his sons Edmund, Charles and Thomas. Sherburne Avenue may have once been named Ellen Avenue for his daughter.

Others say that Archbishop John Ireland coined it almost 100 years ago. It is said that while standing in Calvary Cemetery he looked across a large section of marshland filled with croaking frogs and said "That sounds like a frog town" (Pioneer Press 7/28/74.) The land was particularly marshy and could have contained a high frog population. The Austro-Hungarians in the area called it Froschburg (frog city.)

Yet another theory I have heard is that the name may have come from the fact that the couplers on the railroad cars were called "frogs" and so many railroad workers lived in the area.

I guess we may never really know for sure!


I am trying to figure out where an address is.
In the 1890 St Paul City directory, it said the address is 600 Park Avenue. 
I found a Park Ave in Washington County, but I can't seem to find it in Ramsey County.
I thought maybe the area had been rebuilt.
I appreciate any help you can send my way.

Thank you.

Try the current 600 Park Street.

Park Avenue is currently being called Street.

Park is located between Rice Street and Capital Boulevard originally Brewster Street. The 600 address is on the west side of Park in the middle of the block between Como & Winter.

It is north of the state capital. Bethesda Hospital is on Park and one block south of your address.




I am looking for St. Paul Humboldt high school yearbooks, for the years of 1935 thru 1938 . 
Do you ever get extra copies of these books. and if so do you put them up for sale or trade.

thank you,

We do not have a copy of that particular year book in our collection.

The St. Paul Public Library has a vast collection of local yearbooks, I would check with them to see if they have it.
Central Library
90 West Fourth Street, St. Paul, MN 55102



About a year ago I found a photo of my grandmother Angeline Buckner Adams and her sister dressed in some sort of long striped uniforms. On the back of the photo it mentioned that my grandmother was working at 211 College and found the work to be hard. I have found College Avenue on a reproduction of an old map but have not been able to find out what sort of business was located at that particular address. The year of the photo was 1915.

Thank you for any help you may be able to send my way.

Angeline B. Sabo

Ms Sabo,

What a mystery you have provided me with. 
I have found no mention of a 211 College street in any city directory, no building permit, nothing. 
I can tell you that Miller Hospital was located at 125 West College, and the Deaconess Home and Girls' Club was at 181 West College. There was also an Episcopal church and a mix of residential houses on College.

I have found a photo circa 1914 in which a nurse has on a full length gown with thin pinstripes, almost like modern day candy striper girls. Over this she has on an equally long crisp white apron. 

Sorry I couldn't be of more help good luck on your search.

Thank you so much for your help. I typed in the wrong number on for the address on College. 125 was the number I should have typed. What a wonderful act of kindness you are performing each time you help someone with their family history. Thank you again.





I am hopeful that I can find information on a house I was brought home to as a newborn in 1947. That was 992 Laurel. I know my uncle owned it (and rented out the second floor, and we lived on the third floor) from about 1946 to about 1965. 

The large Craftman inspired duplex at 992 W Laurel Avenue was built in 1909.
The original cost was $12,000. The original owner of this house was listed on the building permit as Jacob Danz II. Louis J. Danz a salesman for the Cable Piano Company, also lived here for a time.
 If you would like to track who lived in the home you can visit our library and review our collection of Polk city directories. After the 1930's the directories have a separate listing where you can look up street addresses to find out who lived there. To make an appointment to visit our libraries call 651-222-0701.



I have an old "Souvenir Silhouette Postcard" from St. Paul from the Mansur Drug Co. It's hard to read but says Seventh and Roberts Sts.?

Any information would be appreciated 

Mansur Drug Company was located on the south West corner of Seventh Street and Robert Street.

It was a prescription drug store run by Robert Mansur at the turn of the century.


I have come across a piece of furniture with a tag labeled: M. Burg and Sons --St. Anthony. Do you know anything about this company. I'd like to know more about it.

Thanks for any info you can provide.

-Jeff H.

M. Burg and Sons built a Furniture warehouse and showroom at 2402-2414 University Avenue in St. Paul in 1917. They are listed at this location from 1918 – 1925. The company either moved out of St. Paul or went out of business in 1926.
Prior to this they had a store at Raymond & University.



I'm looking for any information on "Booth Memorial" home or hospital for unwed mothers in St. Paul, Ramsey county. We are looking for records of a birth that occurred in 1952. Any information will be helpful.

Thank you, 


The Booth Memorial Hospitals were homes for Unwed Mother’s run by the Salvation Army . There were many of these homes most located in larger cities throughout the US. The one here in St. Paul was built at 1471 W Como Ave in 1913. From 1913 to 1971 the hospital was a home for unwed mothers and their children. In 1971 the facility changed its focus to the treatment of center for young women with behavioral or emotional problems. The facility became known as the Booth Brown House and Hope Transition Center. It still serves the same purpose and is still run by the Salvation Army today.

The Booth Memorial Hospital was not an adoption agency and they did not assist in adopting out the babies that were born there. Either a state or private adoption agency or private attorney handled that. The Salvation Army has the medical and birth records of the mothers who had babies there.
Good Luck on your search!





I live in “The John Lunborg House” at 995 Cromwell Avenue . It is one of the oldest standing brick houses in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood being that it was built in 1886. Who was this guy and what did he do?

Thomas Whisenand


Yes the house at 995 Cromwell is one of the oldest houses in the neighborhood and it is one of the few brick houses built in the area in the 1880's and 1890's. It is also one of a few houses built in the St. Anthony areas by anyone other then the St Anthony Park Company who developed the area. It is also rare for the use of cream colored brick. According to the St. Paul building permits, a Minneapolis contractor A. Shingmann built it for $2,500.

As for John Lunborg he was a Plasterer.




I live at 1589 1/2 Selby Avenue. In a really cool older building on the corner of Selby and Snelling. I was wondering if there is any information about it's original uses or any sort of info about it.



The Corner of Selby & Snelling  is one of many small commercial areas, which were commonly built along streetcar lines. They combine storefronts on the ground level with apartments on the upper floors. Many of the buildings in this area have geometric ornamentation typical of 1920’s commercial buildings.

The structure you speak of was built in 1914. It is the largest building in the Selby & Snelling business area, one of few that is over two stories.



I am looking for original information on the Watkins House located at 325 Dayton Avenue. It was built in 1894 and had additions, etc. later, but I do not have information about the original family, etc. , and about the house, and other information that you might have. 

Thank you so much. 
Jane Spannbauer

The Queen Anne house at 325 Dayton predates 1883 the year St. Paul started issuing building permits. The 1883-1884 city Directory lists the resident of this house as Frank P. Shepard.  Shepard was born in 1853 in Cleveland, Ohio. He married Anna McMillan in 1880, probably just before they moved into this house. Frank P. Shepard worked for his father David C. Shepard. a railroad contractor, who lived at 324 Dayton, until his fathers retirement in in 1894. Frank P. Shepard had many other business interests and served as a director in the first national bank and a stockholder in many corporations.

The large brick mansion was once a good example of the queen Anne style, but has had many alterations including a one story pressed brick addition, rear stairway, painting of the brick etc..

The house is most often called the Frank P. Shepard House. I am curious why you call it the Watkins House? Is that the name of the place currently occupying the space? 


I am an architect working on the renovation of the Lowry Building (formerly the Lowry Medical Arts Building) at 350 St. Peter Street.

Could you give me some indication of what you have catalogued in the way of photos or articles pertaining to this structure?

Steve Oakley

In 1878 Thomas Lowry was president of the Minneapolis Street Railway Co. and later became the president of the Twin City Rapid Transit Co. which essentially held a monopoly of street railway transit in St. Paul and Minneapolis. Thomas Lowry made many successful real estate acquisitions in his life.

Among them was the land were the Lowry Medical Arts Building now stands. In 1889 he began purchasing land on the block between Wabasha and St. Peter Streets, and Fourth and Fifth Streets from the estate of W. F. Davidson, a real estate speculator who owned numerous parcels of land in downtown St. Paul. Lowry bought five parcels in the block for $180,000.

In 1890 the original car barn and office of the St. Paul City Railway Co. was destroyed by fire. Lowry purchased the streetcar company's two lots, left empty by the fire, lying along St. Peter Street for $100,000.

In 1892, a building running between Fourth and Fifth with entrances on both streets appears in the St. Paul City Directory for the first time; its name was the Lowry Arcade and it housed numerous offices of doctors and dentists. Just west of this structure, facing St. Peter, was a department store according to Donnelly's 1892 Atlas. This structure likely replaced the burned out Streetcar barns.

Thomas Lowry died in 1909 and his son Horace took over many aspects of his fathers business. Among these was the Arcade Investment Co. In 1910 Horace Lowry began to develop the block in downtown St. Paul that his father had purchased. The structure on St Peter Street was razed for the construction of a new seven-story office building financed by the Arcade Investment Co. Office space was in great demand in St. Paul and like the old building the new building was specially planned for the medical profession. Even before the old Lowry Arcade building was razed, applications for all the proposed office space had been placed in the hands of Horace Lowry. After construction began, application continued to such an extent that it was decided to add five more stories to bring the building to twelve stories (the same height as the St. Paul Hotel).

The building's construction commenced in 1910 and was ready for occupation the following year. The building cost $750,000, and the construction contract was awarded to Wells Bros. construction Co. of Chicago. The building has a frontage of 300 feet with only a fifty-foot depth. On the street level was space for eleven stores as well as entry space for the St. Peter entrance of the Field Schlick Co. The storefronts were made of plate glass and polished granite and the upper portions of the building use glazed Tennessee brick and white terra cotta. The building was constructed of reinforced concrete and proclaimed fireproof because of its marble terrazzo floors throughout every foot of the 12,000 square feet on each floor. The partitions of the building were of terra cotta tile and were so arranged that that they could be removed so that each of the 24 sections or offices on each floor could be made into suites of three or four sections. Also, the building contained reserve water tanks on the roof and compressed air machinery in the basement for the needs of physicians, nurses and dentists.

Horace Lowry died in 1931 but the building remained in the hands of the Arcade Investment Co. (which had a number of owners, many of them Lowry descendents) until 1965 at which time it was sold to Brooks Harvy & Co. of New York. It should also be noted that Horace was also greatly responsible for the development of the space, which includes the Lowry Hotel and the Field Schlick Department Store.


Do you have any historical information on the "Schneider-Bulera house 1849" presently located at 369 Michigan. My grandparents, Frank & Mary Schneider lived on Michigan St. in the early 1900s and I was curious if there could be a connection. Was that house always in that location or was it moved there? Thank you. Kathy Schneider Sigdestad, Louisville, KY



The Schneider Bulera house is at 365 Michigan Street. The attached blurb about that home is taken from a 2001
Preservation Alliance of Minnesota brochure titled "Historic Homes of St. Paul's Uppertown & Irvine Park"

Until quite recently the Schneider-Bulera House was believed by some to be the oldest surviving residence in St. Paul, possibly even predating Minnesota's territorial period (which began in 1849). No documentation has ever been discovered indicating its precise date of construction or its first owner even, for that matter, its original location. What is known is that Leberect and Dorothea Otto, who owned a farm west of St. Paul, purchased that the land on which the house now sits as a vacant lot in the 1850s. The Ottos subsequently lost title to the lot due to a failure to pay back-taxes, but by the mid- 1860s they managed to repurchase it. During this interval the property abstract indicates that a house of modest value had appeared on the site, and it is thought that the investor moved the house to its present site to increase the value of the property for resale.

In 1869 Franz Joseph and Barbara Schneider, an Austrian couple, moved into the house as renters, and they subsequently purchased the house in 1871. Even as late as that date much of the land to the west of Michigan Street (then called Von Minden) was sparsely settled rolling prairie. Franz used the property as part of his dairy farm, and a barn and chicken coop were constructed to the rear of the lot. Incredibly, the house stayed in the Schneider family for 118 years. The Schnelder's grand-daughter Jennie married John W Bulera, and Jennie and John's grandsons sold the house to the West Seventh/Fort Road Federation in 1987. The Federation subsequently reconvened the property to the Uppertown Preservation League, which in 1999 saved the house from near collapse by placing it on a new foundation. John Yust served as architect and Authentic Construction Company as contractor for this extraordinary effort, each donating a substantial amount of their work. The original staircase and much of the interior trim, doors, hardware, and original studs have been preserved for re-incorporation in the restored structure.

It was in the process of this recent work that an interior sheathing board on the east side of the house was discovered to have numerous commercial advertisements pasted to it dating to year 1857. The advertisements are mounted perpendicular to the board facing the interior of the wall, suggesting that it was literally a reused "bill-board." While this discovery disproves prior speculation dating the Schneider-Bulera House to 1849 or before, the house still ranks among the oldest in St. Paul, and the house's pre-Civil War history and whereabouts remain an intriguing mystery.

Im having a little confusion... The Schneider-Bulera house is at 365 Michigan Street. You mention that it is "presently located at 369 Michigan" The house at 369 is the Thorton house which was built in 1884.

As for your Schneider relatives living on Michigan Street, possibly in this house, there is a good chance since it had been in the Schnider family for over 118 years and the street is only 8 blocks long.
In a quick search of our city directories I did find a Frank A. Schneider working as a clerk at St. Paul Truck and Bag Co. living at that address through the 19 - 10 and 20's. Also listed at the address is a Jennie Schneider.
In 1934 we found a listing for a B A Schneider. The best thing you can do is take a look at the family tree and see if any of this listed information matches anything.



My great-grandfather, Francis Marion Finch owned Finch Jewelry Co. in St. Paul around 1890. Do you have any info regarding this store and Francis Finch. 

Finch jewelry Co. was located at 155 E 3rd Street, that’s about all we know about it. Remember that the old Third Street is now Kellogg Boulevard. Third Street was St. Paul's main drag it contained many of St. Paul's business. In the 1880's it began to lose it's appeal. The businesses along the street became progressively more rundown, as did their buildings, occupants and customers. In 1927 the city began a massive renewal project which included clearing most of the buildings on the South side of the street. The street was renamed in 1932.



Our company manages the building at the corner of Sibley and Fifth Streets, originally named the Gordon & Ferguson building and recently re-named Sibley Square at Mears Park. (Other names are the Nalpak Building and Army Corps of Engineers Centre.) The information we have regarding the date the building was built is a bit sketchy. I'm wondering if you can you tell me the year it was built and any other interesting early history on the building. Thank you very much!

Shawn Wiski
Assistant Property Manager
Fifth Street Center / Sibley Square


The Gordon Ferguson Building at 331-341 Sibley Street was built in 1913. It was designed by the well known St Paul architect Clarence Johnston Sr. for Gordon & Ferguson. The Gordon & Ferguson firm was established in 1879, and specialized in leather goods such as hats, caps, and fur. In 1886, when the firm was located at 216-220 E 4th Street it was described in the publication Industries of St. Paul as "not only the largest establishment dealing in hats here, but also the largest manufacturing fur goods in the united states." The company was even said to have supplied the fur coats worn by Admiral Richard E. Byrd on his expedition to Antarctica.




Where was the Merriam Park Depot?

In 1880 the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad completed its "Short Line", a commuter line linking Minneapolis and St. Paul. It traveled through the north part of Merriam Park roughly along the path of the old oxcart trail. The same year that the Short Line tracks were laid Colonel John Merriam, began plans to develop the area which he thought would make an ideal spot for a commuter suburb since it was located roughly between Minneapolis and St. Paul. In 1882 Merriam platted a one hundred and forty-acre tract bounded by the Short Line on the north, Dewey Avenue on the east, Marshall Avenue on the south, and Cleveland (then Union) Avenue on the west. He built a depot where the Short Line intersected with Prior Avenue and built the first Longfellow School and established Merriam Park. Fare to either city was 7 1/2 cent. Mileage to St. Paul was 5.8 miles to Minneapolis 5.1. The run to either city took 12 minutes. The depot was torn down in the 1920's.

When I was a child the sign for the depot was still standing, I am not sure if it's still their now. It was visible while driving on St. Anthony Ave about one half block west of prior.



Do you have any info on J.J. Hill's office building? 
It is recently being turned into condos.

Peter Meyers 
St. Paul

The building at 281-299 Kellogg was built in 1887 for J. J. Hill as the headquarters of his Great Northern Railway. James J. Hill's success at building a railroad empire made him St. Paul's most famous citizen. He earned a place in history with a combination of aggressive business sense and incessant hard work.

This building played an extremely important role in the development of the railroads in the Upper Midwest. It is constructed of red brick and has a central sandstone arch and brick arches over the windows. Horizontal bands at the bottom of each window help blend the two story addition that was made in 1900. A decorative green cornice completes the building. The cast iron gate and archway to the inner courtyard where Hill stabled his horses while at work faces the Broadway side.

The Great Northern Railway had its headquarters in this building until they moved to the Railroad and Bank Building (First Trust Center) shortly after Hill's death in 1916.



Can you tell me where the Ramsey County Poor Farm and Orphanages where located in Saint Paul? 


The Ramsey County Poor Farm is at 2020 N. White Bear Avenue. The barn has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places National Register of Historic Places and is still standing. Before 1885 the poor farm existed on the property which now is the Site of the Minnesota State Fair.

The one listing I could find on a "Ramsey County Orphanage" is the Ramsey County Girls Home School at 680 Stewart Ave, which is off of West 7th street.

A few other local orphanages include: Crispus Attucks Colored Orphanage and Old Folks Home, 1537 Randolph at Brimhall, St. Paul Home for the Friendless, 469 Collins, St. Paul. Catholic Boys Orphanage (no address known) St. Paul Catholic Orphanage, 933 Carroll, St. Paul. St. Joseph's Catholic Orphan Home, 1458 Randolph at Pascal, St. Paul. Lutherans children receiving home 1245 N Hamline Avenue, St. Paul. The Protestant Home 753 East Seventh Street, St. Paul. Protestant Orphan Asylum, 670 Marshall Avenue, St. Paul. Children's Home Society, 2239 Commonwealth, St. Paul.




My great grandfather, Martin L. Ryan's, occupation is listed on the 1900 census as a collector for Globe. Could you tell me what Globe was? Martin lived at 704 E. 6th Street, St. Paul in 1900 and did so until his death in 1908. He had moved to St. Paul about 1883 from Illinois.

Thanks, Michael Ryan Wilkesboro, NC

Their are a few options the Globe was a newspaper, a hotel or a business college.

I am making the assumption that it is the newspaper being that all the directory says is the "Globe"

Good Luck in your search!


I am curious about the history of the home at 1860 Portland. It is the house I grew up in and I recently purchased it from my parents. I think it is the first house built on our block as it still has the stone foundation rather than brick, it was also plumbed for gas lighting as well as electricity.
Incidentally, I have fond memories of the Ramsey County Historical Society as I did an internship there when I was completing my History degree at St. Thomas. I spent the whole semester cataloguing a portion of the collection on 3x5 cards. As boring as that sounds it was actually very interesting. Thank you for the time and consideration.

Tom Thuente
St. Paul


The mildly Colonial Revival Bungalow at 1860 Portland Ave was built in 1914.

As you guessed it is one of the oldest houses on this stretch of Portland, which is dominated by stuccoed prairie style houses. The original owner of the house was James Simons a clerk for A.B. Ball & Company.

If you want to volunteer again

Good luck on your search!



Can you give me a short history of the old Richards Gordon elementary school on Marshall avenue near Snelling Avenue ?

Thomas Joerger


The Richards Gordon School was constructed in 1911 at an estimated cost of $38,703. It was designed by Ray R. Gauger, The son of prolific St. Paul Architect August F Gauger. Ray R Gauger was associated with his father in the early twentieth century and took over his father's practice when he retired in 1929.
The brick school at 1619 Dayton is a fine example of the beaux Art Style popular in St. Paul from the 1890's to World War I. Its has a wonderfully ornate detailed classic entrance.
The cartoonist Charles Schultz attend the school.
The building was closed as a school sometime during the 1970's and now houses many non profit organizations.


Hoping you can help in my family research My grandmother worked at a movie theater when she was 17 or 18 years old and meant my grandfather there, she lived at 85 hatch in St Paul and he lived 212 Sherburne in sty Paul only about a mile or so apart so being in 1930 there had to be a movie theater between or around there homes, could you look up that information for me and if there is any photo's of that theater please email them to me. adding all this information with pictures in to our family tree. thank you so much for your time and effort .
Jim Logsdon

In the 1930 city directory we have found a listing for Bluebird motion pictures at 900 Rice Street at the intersection of Manitoba.  This would be the closest theater to Grandmas house (about 4 city blocks not even 1/2 mile)  
The theater would have been located between Grandma & Grandpa's houses.  I have found no photos of the theater, other then the picture above that was taken of the building around 1980. The building to my knowledge is still standing.   The building was built by Hiller Hoffman in 1914 to house his hardware store.    The building has also housed many things including the Bluebird , a parochial school uniform manufacturer, True Value Hardware, and Weygand Brothers Furniture appliance and mattresses to mention a few.

About  the photo...  after a closer  look at the photo we noticed  movie posters ,  could you date  this photo?   Thank you so much  for everything you have done  for us . Jim

While yes I can date the photo. The 1st movie "The Winner" was released both in 1913 & 1914, "The Vow" was released in 1915.
These were both silent movies. My best guess is that the photo was taken really close to the opening of the theater maybe even the grand opening or a matinee the next day. Since the building  was constructed in 1914 the theater would have probably open shortly after that and "the Vow" came out in 1915, I think we can make the assumption that the photo was taken in 1915.



Do you have any information or where to look up info about American Hoist & Derrick Co. I.E. founders, where situated, dates of its beginning, etc. It is my understanding the company started in St. Paul(?).
Thank you,
Dale Schicketanz
The American Hoist and Derrick Company (Amhoist) traces its origins to the Franklin Manufacturing Company, a heavy equipment repair business established by Oliver T Crosby & Frank Johnson at 459 S Robert Street in St. Paul. The company responded initially to the need for maintained and repair of logging & iron ore mining equipment. In 1883 the name was changed to the American Manufacturing Company and the firm began to manufacture hand and horse-powered hoisting equipment. In 1885 the company expanded its line to include a variety of construction equipment, as well as hosting equipment for quarrying. In 1887 the company moved to 63 S Robert Street in St. Paul. In 1882 the company changed its name to the American Hoist & Derrick Company and opened a second office and distribution facility in Chicago. Beginning in 1955 Amhoist began a tremendous period of growth through acquisition of other companies. American Hoist and Derricks moved from St. Paul, MN to Willmington, NC, in the early 1980's. The Amhoist industrial site on the West Side Flats has since been purchased by the City of Saint Paul and a private developer.

The bulk of this information was taken from the Commemorative brochure "Our First 100 Years: American Hoist & Derrick Company." published in 1982.

To the Historical Society:
I am trying to find some information about a distant relation - a Dr. Anker - who I understand was the founder of Anker Hospital in St. Paul early in the 19th century. If there is any written information available about that, I would be most interested in speaking to someone about how I could obtain copies of that information. Thanks in advance for your assistance with this.

Sincerely, Henry Levi
Atlanta, GA 

We published an article titled Diphtheria, typhoid, Tuberculosis- Roots of Ramsey County's Health Care Traces Back to Anker Hospital way back in 1987, Volume 22 #1.

Anker was born in Baltimore on March 20th 1851. He considered a life at sea, but decided on medicine. He entered the medical college of Ohio At Cincinnati and graduated in 1882. Almost immediately after graduation he moved to St. Paul and practiced medicine out of an office on Wabasha street. Dr Arthur B. Anker was elected superintendent of the city and county hospital in 1883. In 1887 Anker convinced the St. Paul city council to build a new model hospital building. The new hospital was built and opened in November of 1895. The city Hospital was acknowledged to be the largest and best institution West of Chicago. The first Automobile Ambulance was said to have been designed by anker in 1912, and placed on a studebaker chassis, at the cost of $4,200.

Anker made many improvements and additions, including a crippled children's department. Anker died in 1923 in his office at the age of 72 of heart disease, a condition he had for three years but kept to himself. The year he died the City & County hospital was renamed in his honor.

Read your article mentioning Yoerg Brewing Company and the house of Anthony Yoerg Sr at 215 W Isabel.
In an abstract for 808 Cherokee, Anthony Yoerg Jr. is mentioned about 1902 when he sold the house to my grandparents. Was he involved in the Brewing Company?

In the summer of 1996 an article titled Minnesota’s First Brewery: Yoerg’s Final Years, 1933-1952 ran in our Ramsey County History magazine. The following information was taken from that article.

Anthony Yoerg launched Minnesota’s first brewery in 1848 in his house on Eagle and Washington near the current Excel center. In 1871 the brewery moved into three limestone cave buildings near the West side caves at Ethel and Ohio Streets. The brew house was built into the cliffs and the caves were a cool place to store beer. This site was the headquarters for the firm for the next eighty years.

In 1920, when the eighteenth Prohibition Amendment to the United States Constitution went into effect, the brewery was closed. The Yoerg Milk Company was established in 1921 to make use of the plant’s idle facilities. In 1933 Yoerg Brewery was granted a permit to reopen and begin to manufacture beer.

The Yoerg's had seven children which helped to run the brewery at one time or the other but, the officers and directors of the resuscitated firm were sons  Frank Yoerg, President, Secretary & Treasurer; Louis Yoerg, Vice President.   Anthony Jr. was not mentioned as being involved but his son took over the company, when Louis Yoerg’s health began to fail in 1933.  Alfred Yoerg served as the company’s business manager, Vice president and finally president in 1950.

After years of financial trouble they unsuccessfully attempted to sell the company. There was no hope for continuing operations at the financially strapped firm, so the Yoerg Brewery was closed in November of 1952.

While doing a quick search in our city directories we found that Anthony Yoerg Jr.  had his own company, Yoerg & Savard Real Estate & Loans. He lived at 197 W Isabel. Anthony Yoerg could have been the real estate agent on your grandparents home. 

To submit a question, email us at Research@rchs.com

Support the "Ask a Historian" Project and others like it 
by joining the Ramsey County Historical Society! 

Our Mission
"The Ramsey County Historical Society inspires current and future generations to learn from
and value their history by engaging in a diverse program of presenting, publishing and preserving." 

The place for St. Paul & Ramsey County, Minnesota history.
Ramsey County Historical Society programs include a research center, St. Paul & Ramsey County MN history magazine, 
historical exhibits, historic site attraction the Gibbs Museum of Pioneer and Dakotah Life.

323 Landmark Center, 75 West Fifth Street, Saint Paul, Minnesota 55102    
Phone: (651) 222-0701, Fax: (651) 223-8539
Copyright 2012

Home  ●  About Us Gibbs Museum Events & Exhibits Research Center ●  Magazine & Books Membership