New Featured Talks
The Industrial Muscle of the City - St. Paul's
Explore St. Paul's Eastside and its legacy as the industrial muscle of
the city – especially in the 1940s and 1950s. Historian Steve Trimble will
take a look at the working class neighborhoods and the large companies
including 3M, Hamm Brewery, and Seeger/Whirlpool that made the Eastside
their home. The talk is based on the article featured in the award winning
quarterly magazine, Ramsey County History.
The Dutiful Son: Louis W. Hill: Life in the Shadow
of the Empire Builder, James J. Hill.
Local author Biloine (Billie) W. Young and researcher Eileen McCormack
bring to light the extraordinary life and contributions of Louis W. Hill
Sr., the second son of James J. Hill. Following the death of his father,
Louis took on the management of the Great Northern Railway and banking
empire , became the major force behind the establishment and development of
Glacier National Park, restored the St. Paul Winter Carnival as a city-wide
celebration and equitably settled his parents’ vast estate despite , at
times, bitter opposition from members of his family.
TALKS BY HISTORIAN PAUL D. NELSON
Rocky Roots: Geology and Stone Construction in
Downtown St. Paul
Hear about the use of ornamental stone in downtown St. Paul’s architecture.
Historian Paul D. Nelson will help you see the city with new eyes and new
This talk is based on the book Rocky Roots: Geology and Stone
Construction in Downtown St.Paul which uses text, photos, and maps as a
guide to the use stone, particularly stone quarried in Minnesota, in the
Courthouse Sculptor: Lee Lawrie
Be one of the few people who know about famous sculptor, Lee Lawrie, whose
sculptures grace the St. Paul Courthouse and the opening credits for a
popular TV series 30 Rock. Historian Paul D. Nelson will examine the
courthouse relief sculptures as well as Lawrie’s career and creations
elsewhere, including Rockefeller Center.
'The Greatest Single Industry?' Crex: Created Out
Learn the details of the rise and fall of the once flourishing St. Paul
industry that manufactured twine, furniture, and carpet from a forgotten
resource: wire grass. The illustrated talk explains how workers harvested
the wire grass which was twisted and bent into wicker furniture and carpets
that once graced the porches of St. Paul neighborhoods. Historian, Paul D.
Nelson’s weaves an intriguing story of the long forgotten company and its
Another Lost Neighborhood: The Life and Death of
Central Park- A Small Part of the Past Illuminated
Born in the 1880s and died in the 1970s, Central Park near the state
Capitol has today passed into urban legend. Paul D. Nelson will share his
carefully researched history of the park in this illustrated talk. In 1884
four wealthy and powerful St. Paul families donated the land that became
Central Park to act as a buffer between their homes and the already
encroaching urban sprawl. Today all that remains of Central Park is a plaque
in a parking ramp.
'A Shady Pair' and an 'Attempt on His Life'-Sitting
Bull and His 1884 visit to St. Paul
What did Sitting Bull think of St Paul? In 1884 Lakota Indian
leader Sitting Bull visited St. Paul twice. Paul Nelson focuses on the
circumstances of his two brief stays and whether there was an attempt on his
Fear a Powerful Motivator: A Harvest of Victims: the Twin Cities and St.
Paul's Traumatic Small Pox Epidemc in 1924
'Hang Him! That's The Best Way' A Lynching In St. Paul? Almost, In 1895,
An Era Of 'Vigilante Justice' In The Nation
Twenty-five years before the infamous Duluth lynchings, itinerant
African-American Houston Osborne narrowly escaped lynching in St.Paul. This
talk describes the near-lynching, the events leading to it, the press
coverage, African-American community reaction, what became of Osborne, and
where this event fits in the national lynching phenomenon.
About the Historian:
Paul D. Nelson is a
graduate of Macalester College and the University of Minnesota Law School.
He is the author of Fredrick L. McGhee: A Life on the Color Line, 1861–1912
(Minnesota Historical Society Press: 2002) and numerous articles on St. Paul
history. Mr. Nelson is a member of the Ramsey County Historical Society’s
Editorial Board and a frequent contributor to the award winning quarterly
magazine, Ramsey County History.
TALKS BY HISTORIAN STEVEN C. TRIMBLE
Tommy Milton "St. Paul's Speed King"
Hear the story of Tommy Milton, Saint Paul’s own speed king. Milton
first wowed crowds driving his Duesenberg at the Twin Cities Speedway and
won the Indianapolis 500 in 1921 and 1923. He is considered to be the
premier race car driver of the 1920’s.
Steve Trimble’s illustrated talk includes never before seen photographs of
Historic Photos Of St. Paul: The History of St.
Paul Told Through Historic Photographs.
Based on the book of the same titled this illustrated talk rediscovers the
city’s fascinating past through rare photographs from the Ramsey County
Historical Society. Steve C. Trimble shares antidotes and entertaining
stories about these rarely scene photos ranging from Summit Avenue to the
invention of “kittenball”
"If It Can Be Manufactured From Wood, We Can Make It" A History of the
Villaume Family and the Company They Built
How can a business remain viable for over 125 years? Steve Trimble will
discuss the history of Villaume Industries, including Villaume’s World War
II work, and highlight notable jobs such as the rare woods used in the
glorious interior of the Ramsey County Courthouse.
Lots of St. Paul: A Photo Essay on Downtown Parking
and What Urban History Can Tell Us About a City
Learn how something as ordinary as a parking garage shaped the urban
landscape of St. Paul.
About the Historian: Steven C. Trimble is a longtime educator,
researcher and writer of local history. He is a member of the Ramsey County
Historical Society’s Editorial Board and serves on the St. Paul Heritage
Preservation Commission. Mr. Trimble is a frequent contributor to the award
winning quarterly magazine, Ramsey County History.
TALKS BY HISTORIAN BOB
History on Ice: Winter Carnival Ice Palaces
Discover the magic of Saint Paul's legendary Ice Palaces! Starting in
1886, Saint Paul has been the home of some of the planet's greatest ice
architecture, including the largest and tallest constructions ever made from
Minnesota's most liquid asset. Bob Olsen, the Winter Carnival's unofficial
ice palace historian, will present a fast paced, fun filled lecture filled
with photographs, entertaining stories, and more information than you'd ever
want to know. Cool!
About the Historian: Bob Olsen serves as
Executive Director of the arts organization, COMPAS. He is an active
volunteer for numerous community organizations and a contributor to the
award winning quarterly magazine, Ramsey County History.
TALKS BY HISTORIAN JOHN M.
"A Great Experience" Villaume Builds Gliders in
World War II
About the Historian: John M. Lindley is the editor of the award winning
quarterly magazine Ramsey County History.
TALKS BY HISTORIAN RALPH THRANE
Gibbs Museum Heritage Orchard and the Comeback of
the Ancient Apple
Local master orchardist and gardener, Ralph Thrane shares the story of
the recreation of the period orchard at the Gibbs Museum. Like many
pioneers, the Gibbs family planted and maintained an orchard on their farm.
Unfortunately, the original Gibbs orchard no longer existed when the Ramsey
County Historical Society acquired the farm in 1949. Ralph Thrane will
explain the rigorous selection process among thousands of varieties, he used
cold weather hardiness and the age of the variety (at least 50 years old) as
the standards for including a variety in the heritage orchard. The result
is a representative heritage orchard of varieties that pioneers in the
region might have grown. With varieties dating back to Jefferson,
Washington, and Benjamin Franklin, there is no other orchard in the entire
upper Midwest region that offers such an array of heritage apples. Many of
these varieties are the ancestors of varieties later created by the
University of Minnesota.
About the Historian: Ralph Thrane is a member
of the Ramsey County Historical Society’s Board of Directors.
TALKS BY HISTORIAN BRIAN
Minneapolis and St. Paul Stumble- Henry Ford Wins the Struggle for the
Hear the illuminating story of Henry Ford’s commitment to hydroelectric
power at the Ford plant and his role in the licensing of the power at the
Ford Dam. See rare photos of the construction of the dam and interior
views in this illustrated talk.
About the Historian: Brian McMahon has written widely on the subject
of urban history, including several articles for Ramsey County History.
He is currently working on a history of the Ford Motor Company in Minnesota.
He is a trained architect and Executive Director of University UNITED, a
coalition of community organizations and business representatives working to
promote development on University Avenue.
TALKS BY HISTORIAN EILEEN MCCORMACK
The 146-Year History of The Louis Hill House… New
Settlers, A Booming Real Estate Market, And A Summit Avenue Site Acquired On
Explore the history of the house that stands at 260 Summit Avenue known
to many residents as the Louis and Mary Hill house.
Mary Hill's Lowertown, 1867-1891
About the Historian: Eileen McCormack worked as associate curator in the
Manuscript area of the James J. Hill reference Library. Ms. McCormack is a
frequent contributor to the award winning quarterly magazine, Ramsey
TALKS BY HISTORIAN GREG A.
Subterranean Twin Cities
About the Historian: Greg Brick was employed as a
hydrogeologist at environmental consulting firms and has taught geology at
local colleges. He has published many articles about caves, is the editor of
an international cave journal, and was the recipient of the 2005 National
Speleological Society Award in Cave History. His first book, Iowa
Underground: A Guide to the State’s Subterranean Treasures, was published in
2004. His latest book, Subterranean Twin Cities, was published by the
University of Minnesota Press in 2009, won the 2010 American Institute of
Architects Award of Recognition. His work has been featured in National
Geographic Adventure magazine as well as on the History Channel. Mr. Brick is a frequent contributor to the award winning quarterly
magazine, Ramsey County History.
TALKS BY HISTORIAN JAY PFAENDER
The Story of a Lost Estate and Oliver Crosby, the
Inventive Genius Who Created It
Hear the fascinating account of one of St. Paul’s pioneering industrialist
and inventors, Oliver Crosby, and Stonebridge, his lost estate that was
located along the river in the Macalester Groveland neighborhood from 1916
About the Historian: Jay Pfaender is a member
of the Ramsey County Historical Society’s Board of Directors and the
society’s Editorial Board and a contributor to the award winning quarterly
magazine, Ramsey County History.
TALKS BY HISTORIAN
The Force That Shaped the Neighborhoods: 1890-1953:
Sixty Years of Streetcars in St. Paul and Millions of Dollars in Investments
Transportation historian John W. Diers takes us through the complex
history of the electric streetcar system in this illustrated talk. His
account is based on wide research into the predecessor systems, the economic
pluses and minuses of streetcars, the human side of streetcar employment,
and the ever-present competition from automobiles after 1920. The article
also covers the 1917 strike, which lead to riots in St. Paul.
About the Historian: John Diers worked for the
Metropolitan Transit Commission for more then 25 years, he is now an
independent consultant on transit. He is the co-author of Twin Cities by
Trolley: The Street Car Era in Minneapolis and St. Paul (University of
Minnesota Press: 2007). Mr. Diers is a member of the Ramsey County
Historical Society’s Editorial Board and a contributor to the award winning
quarterly magazine, Ramsey County History.
DEMONSTRATIONS AND TALKS FROM THE GIBBS MUSEUM
Bring Pioneer & Dakota life to your
door. Gibbs Museum offers a variety of demonstrations and talks
using replica artifacts, storytelling and interactive
activities to help participants delve into history. Please call 651-222-0701
for a full listing of demonstrations and talks from the Gibbs Museum.
About the Gibbs Museum: The Gibbs Museum of
Pioneer and Dakotah Life compares the lives of Minnesota Pioneers with
those of the Dakota Indians who lived in the region. Costumed interpreters
give tours of the site, which includes a 19th century farm house,
a unique one-room school house, barns, farm animals, a replica sod house,
Dakota tipi and artifacts, bark lodge, pioneer and Dakota gardens, and
more. The museum reflect both early farm life in Minnesota and pioneer Jane
Gibbs’s friendship with the Dakota, who camped on the site as they headed
north to gather wild rice.