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RAMSEY COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY

HAMLINE MIDWAY
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Researching your house's history? Learn more by about your house and your neighborhood's history by visiting the Ramsey County Historical Society Research Center, 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  Daytons Bluff neighborhood by uploading photos to Ramsey County Historical Society's  neighborhood Flickr photo groups at http://www.flickr.com/groups/daytonsbluffneighborhood/

The Dayton's Bluff  neighborhood profile featured here is taken from the Ramsey County Historic Site Survey Report.
 


District 11, known as Hamline-Midway, is bounded by the Pierce Butler Route on the north, Lexington Parkway on the east, University Avenue on the south, and the railroad tracks just west of Transfer Road on the west. Much of Hamline-Midway is residential in character yet it has a significant number of light industry, retail and wholesale businesses, particularly along the major streets such as University, Snelling, and Hamline Avenues. In addition to Hamline University, the area includes several public and private elementary schools and a handful of neighborhood parks.

The Hamline-Midway area was once a wide stretch of prairie between the two small towns of St. Paul and St. Anthony (later incorporated into Minneapolis). Several early roads crossed the area, including the old military route which is now Snelling Avenue. Farmers settled there in the 1850's at the same time that several real estate speculators platted lots which were not developed for many years. Although the first railroad in the state, which opened in 1862, traveled through the Midway area, it did little to attract settlers. By contrast, the Minnesota Transfer Railroad, organized in 1883 was a major impetus to the industrial and commercial development of the region. The Minnesota Transfer Railroad was associated with a large stockyard located at the present site of the Amtrak Depot in Industrial Park. The railway transported freight and livestock between the several railroad lines running through the area. The railroad bridge located west of the transfer railroad building is part of the track system still in use. Another impetus to commercial and residential settlement was the completion in 1890 of the University Avenue streetcar line, the first line to connect the Minneapolis and St. Paul track systems. Streetcar lines were later built along parts of Lexington, Thomas, Hamline and Minnehaha Avenues, and a major streetcar servicing station was erected near Hamline-Midway on the recently demolished Metro Transit Commission bus garage on Snelling Avenue, just north of Interstate Highway 94.

Few houses were built in Hamline-Midway until well after Hamline University was established in 1880. That University continues to play an important role in the neighborhood. Hamline University Hall was built in 1887 at 1536 W. Hewitt Avenue. It is probably the finest example of Ruskinian Victorian Gothic in Ramsey County. Most of the surviving Victorian houses in the district were constructed within a several block radius area west of Snelling Avenue, south of Newell Park, east of Fairview Avenue, and north of University Avenue. Several were constructed for Hamline faculty and almost all were constructed between 1887 and 1891. The Orin O. Whited House built in 1887 at 1538 Englewood Avenue is one of the oldest intact Victorian houses in the area and is considered a rarity because of its brick, rather than wood frame, construction. Built in the same year, the William A. Davern House at 1288 Hubbard Avenue retains its ornate, two-tiered Victorian open porch. Although clad in inappropriate siding, the J.W. Wallace House at 634 N. Fairview, built in 1889, retains ornately carved porch brackets and other details. Also built in 1889 is the unusual and imaginative Ellen Gillette House at 1730 Van Buren Avenue designed by English-born architect Walter Ife. Two exquisite examples of Queen Anne pattern book type houses are the John J. Dewey House at 1684 W. Van Buren Avenue , built in 1889, and the house at 1765 W. Minnehaha Avenue, built in 1890. Each has a wonderfully ornate open porch and other typical Queen Anne features. The house at 1153 Sherburne Avenue, built in 1890 by a carpenter, Jacob Koenig, features an unusual square corner tower over a recessed rounded arched entrance porch. The rambling late Victorian Frederick Grant House at 1464 Minnehaha Avenue built in 1891 is wonderfully intact though it has been converted to apartments. An unusual, plain brick house located at 877 N. Fry Street was built in 1891, according to a notation on the building permit, though its simple proportions and tall, narrow segmental arched window openings suggest it may date from as early as 1880 and may have been an early farmhouse.

Few houses were built in Hamline-Midway in the mid-1890's. Houses built at the turn of the century and in the opening decades of the twentieth century are generally smaller than those built in the late 1880's and early 1890's. Among the more interesting turn of the century houses is the John North House at 1378 Minnehaha, built in 1899 for a trimmer at the Northern Pacific Railroad Como Shops (or Energy Park). The North House has a polygonal corner turret which towers above the main mass of the 2 story house. The C.J. Christensen House at 1673 Sherburne, built in 1903, features brick corbelling at the eaves and rounded arches over the second story windows. Identical small houses at 1777 and 1785 Van Buren Avenue are intriguing variations on the bungalow theme. Each has a steeply pitched gabled roof with flared eaves, cross bars in the gable end, clapboard on the first floor and stained shingles on the second.

By the 1920's builders in the area were employing various Period Revival styles such as the Pueblo/Mission Revival style Lena Howard House at 1672 Blair Avenue, built in 1926, and the Hansel and Gretel inspired twin bungalow at 1300-1302 W. Lafond Avenue, built by and for Peter Olesen in 1926. The Olesen house features a style similar to the gas station at 666 N. Snelling, built in 1940 and now the Snelling Service garage. The Krank Manufacturing Company Building , 1926, at 1885 University Avenue features glazed terra cotta panels with brightly carved floral and classical motifs adorning an otherwise utilitarian structure which has recently been renovated and renamed Iris Park Place.

Hamline-Midway has several architecturally significant church buildings representing a variety of twentieth century architectural styles. The Knox Presbyterian Church at 1536 Minnehaha Avenue, designed in 1912-14 by William Alban and Charles Hausler, is one of few St. Paul churches designed in the Prairie style. Although many churches were built in the city in the Late Gothic Revival style, few are as impressive as the Hamline Methodist Episcopal Church at 1514 Englewood Avenue. The Church of St. Columba at 1305 Lafond, built in 1949-50, was designed by a nationally famous Chicago architect, Barry Byrne. The design is an expressionistic and fluid modern landmark.

The Henry Hale Memorial Hamline Branch Library at 1558 Minnehaha, built in 1930, is nearly identical to the Merriam Park Branch Library at Marshall Avenue and Fairview, which has been removed and repleced. Another intriguing public building is the Hamline Playground Building, constructed by the Works Progress Administration in 1940 and featuring a somber interpretation of the Art Deco style. 

Hamline-Midway History Corps

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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.

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RAMSEY COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY
323 Landmark Center, 75 West Fifth Street, Saint Paul, Minnesota 55102    
Phone: (651) 222-0701, Fax: (651) 223-8539

info@rchs.com
Copyright 2012

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