|Researching your house's history? Learn more
by about your house and your neighborhood's history by visiting the
Ramsey County Historical Society
which is open Monday through Thursday between 10:00am and 4:00pm.
Please call 651-222-0701 or email Research@rchs.com for more information.
Share your photos of the Como neighborhood by uploading photos to Ramsey County Historical Society's neighborhood Flickr photo groups at http://www.flickr.com/groups/comoneighborhood/
The Como neighborhood profile featured here is taken from the Ramsey County Historic Site Survey Report.
Planning District 10, know as the Como area is located in the northwestern part of St. Paul along the northern city limits. It is bounded by the cities of Roseville and Falcon Heights on the north and west, the Burlington Northern Railroad tracks and Lexington Parkway on the southwest, the southern shore of Lake Como and Maryland Avenue on the southeast, and Dale Street on the east.
Like most of Ramsey County, the Como area was primarily used as farmland by early settlers in the 1850's to the 1880's. During the early 1850's an ambitious St. Paul real estate speculator, Henry "Broad Acres" McKenty, purchased land around the northern and eastern shores of Lake Como expecting to create a prime resort area. In 1856 McKenty financed the construction of the "Como Road" leading from downtown St. Paul to the lake, a route which roughly followed the path of today's Como Avenue. McKenty's scheme apparently suffered financial losses and he committed suicide in 1869. Several resort hotels were constructed around the lake in the 1860's by other investors and the area was linked to St. Paul by an early horse drawn omnibus which traveled on the Como Road beginning in 1863.
The city of St. Paul became interested in the beauty of the area and circa 1873 purchased two hundred and fifty-six acres on the west side of the lake for the creation of a park on the recommendation of Horace W. S. Cleveland, a nationally known landscape architect who helped establish much of the St. Paul and Minneapolis park systems. The land remained undeveloped for several years. Beginning in 1883 the City used the southeast forty acres of the site for a city workhouse complex. In 1887 the city hired Cleveland to design the park's roadways and landscape. More improvements followed as the zoo was established in 1897, the lakeside pavilion was constructed in 1905-06, and the conservatory was built in 1915.
Residential development occurred slowly, despite the platting and promotion of the Warrendale commuter suburb on the southwest shore of the lake. Electric streetcar tracks first linked Como Park to the city in 1892. In 1898 the tracks were extended through the park westward along Como Avenue where they were linked to the Minneapolis streetcar system, forming the "Como-Harriet" interurban line. Streetcar service was improved in 1924 and 1927, spurring some development in the southern portions of the district, however most of the northern portions remained undeveloped until after World War II.
Several early farmhouses exist, although most have been altered and expanded. The oldest, at 1388 N. Victoria Street, dates from the 1850's or 1860's. Several nineteenth century houses, which probably were not farmhouses also exist. The most significant of these is the basically intact Italianate George H. and Hannah Hazzard House (no. 25) at 1371-1373 W. Nebraska Avenue. The greatest concentration of Victorian houses was found along Como Avenue west of Lexington Parkway, and in the area between Como Avenue and the Burlington Northern tracks, a residential neighborhood which developed shortly after the Northern Pacific Railroad's Como Shops were established nearby in 1885.
District 10 contains several wood frame, pressed brick, and rock faced concrete block houses dating from the turn of the century, although bungalows constructed before World far II are more prevalent. Some bungalows feature Craftsman-inspired random rubble chimneys and foundations, but most are straightforward small frame dwellings which were inexpensive to construct. A number of fine Period Revival houses, circa 1900 to the 1940's, are located along Wheelock and Midway Parkways. The most significant of these is the Thomas Frankson House at 1349 Midway Parkway, and unusual mildly Tudor Revival house faced in white and green glazed bricks. Frankson was a real estate investor who served as Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota from 1917 to 1921.
District 10 is primarily a residential and recreational area containing few commercial or industrial buildings, with the exception of the Como railroad shops at 1269 Energy Park Drive. These shops have been renovated as part of the light industrial and residential Energy Park complex. The district contains a number of churches, none of outstanding architectural significance, and several institutions and schools which have served important roles in the neighborhood. Two nursing homes, the Lyngblomsten Home for the Aged at 128 N. Pascal Avenue and the Jewish Home for the Aged (Sholom Home) at 1554 W. Midway Parkway, are historically significant and architecturally interesting. The most architecturally significant institution is the Salvation Army Women's Home and Hospital at 1471 W. Como Avenue, a sophisticated brick Tudor Revival style building designed by Clarence H. Johnston, Sr., and constructed in 1912. Two public schools standing in District 10 are architecturally significant: the Art Deco Chelsea Heights School at 1557 N. Huron Street and the Beaux Arts Como Park Elementary School at 780 W. Wheelock Parkway designed by Charles A. Hausler in 1916.
Como Park comprises over 40% of District 10, and contains several important buildings including the Como Park Conservatory, now on the National Register; the Como Lake Pavilion; the Park Comfort Station - a Prairie style park shelter constructed by the W.P.A.; and the Art Deco, W.P.A. constructed Zoological Building designed by Charles Bassford in 1936. The park contains a number of other important monuments and structures, several built by the W.P.A. In addition, one of the city's most important remnants of the streetcar era, the random rubble Como-Harriet Interurban Line Streetcar Waiting Station at 1224 N. Lexington Parkway, remains intact.
"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.
RAMSEY COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY
323 Landmark Center, 75 West Fifth Street, Saint Paul, Minnesota 55102
Phone: (651) 222-0701, Fax: (651) 223-8539
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