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RAMSEY COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY

 WEST SIDE
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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 3: The West Side

District 3, known as the West Side, is located south of downtown St. Paul and is the only St. Paul neighborhood on the west bank of the Mississippi River. District 3 is bounded by the Mississippi River on the north, east, and west and by the Ramsey County line on the south. It includes residential neighborhoods, Holman airfield, several parks, Harriet Island, and Navy Island (once known as Raspberry Island). Historically, the West Side was divided by steep river bluffs into distinct neighborhoods -- the Upper West Side on top of the bluffs, and the Lower West Side or Flats, an area in the northeast portion of the district along the river. This area was originally a working class and industrial neighborhood. It is now the site of Riverview Industrial Park.

From 1851 to 1874 the West Side was technically part of Dakota County and was occupied first by Dakota Indians and later by French-Canadian, Irish, and German immigrants, some of whom farmed the area. The West Bank of the river was linked to the tiny community of St. Paul by ferry boats and the wood frame Wabasha Bridge which opened in 1859. Early settlement of the low lying portion of the West Side was discouraged by frequent devastating flooding of the Mississippi River. In 1858 the community was granted a charter and became the city of West St. Paul. This government lasted four years and the charter was revoked, primarily due to financial difficulties. In 1874 the area was annexed by St. Paul, and became part of Ramsey County. The neighborhood gradually became known as the West Side, referring to its location on the west bank of the river. With extensive frontage on the Mississippi River and the system of natural caves formed in the limestone river bluffs, the West Side attracted early industries.

 Among the first and the most famous were the breweries founded along Ohio and Water Streets. The Yoerg Brewing Company and Bruggeman's Brewery relocated from the West Seventh Street area to the West Side in 1871 and 1872. They became the neighborhood's largest, beer makers. They used natural caves for the cooling and storage of beer. No original brewery buildings remain on the West Side, but it has been identified that in openings to several limestone caves along Water Street, contain limestone ruins of a building which may have been part of the Yoerg complex.
Yoerg House at 215 W Isabel Street

Other early industries, including foundries, quarries and manufacturing plants were located on the Lower Flats along the river. During an urban renewal project in the 1960's, many of these early industrial buildings were demolished.  Several turn of the century industrial buildings have been identified. None of these have great architectural merit but many are historically significant. They include the American Hoist and Derrick Complex at 63 S. Robert Street, the Illinois Glass Company at 149 S. Robert Street, the St. Paul Linseed Oil Company at 43 W. Starkey Avenue, and the St. Paul Stove Works at 555 E. Concord Street. 

One manufacturing facility of more recent vintage which has architectural significance is the Streamlined Moderne Coca Cola Bottling Plant at 84 S. Wabasha Street, one of several Coca Cola facilities built in this style across the Midwest in the 1940's. (A similar Coca Cola Bottling Plant in Minneapolis was  demolished in the 1980's)

Jobs in West Side industries attracted immigrant groups to the area. It began with the Germans and Irish arriving in the 1870's. During the 1880's and 1890's many eastern European and Russian Jews moved into the Lower East Side, creating a large Jewish neighborhood. By the 1920's many of them had moved to other parts of the city, such as the Highland Park neighborhood, and a large contingent of Mexican Americans settled on the Lower West Side. After the residential portions of the Lower West Side were systematically demolished during the 1960's urban renewal, the Chicano population moved to other parts of the neighborhood. Today the West Side still contains a strong Chicano community. In addition, since World War II, a number of Lebanese, Syrians, Blacks, American Indians and Southeast Asians have settled in the area.

Although the original working class residential neighborhood of the Lower West Side was obliterated, there are pockets of working class housing scattered throughout the West Side, concentrated east of Humboldt Avenue and in an east to west band across the middle of the district. Although most of these houses have been altered, intact examples of working class houses were identified including the woodframe Henry Heinsch House at 390 S. Stryker Avenue and the collection of small, ornate, brick houses built by a mason , Henry Lange, at 87 through 106 E. King Street. 

In addition, the West Side contains a number of basically intact wood frame and brick double houses, row houses, and apartment buildings built around the turn of the century primarily for working and middle class occupants. These include the double house at 40-42 W. Isabel Street, Grady Flats at 46-52 W. Delos Street, and The Isabel, a brick row house designed by Louis Lockwood at 109-119 E. Isabel Street. (at left)

More recently settled parts of the West Side, including the southern and eastern edge of the district, contain a mixture of bungalows and Colonial Revival houses along with more modern Period Revival and suburban dwellings.

The homes of more affluent residents including several early businessmen and industrialists still stand along the edges of the river bluffs south of Cherokee Park (created between 1903 and 1911) and Prospect Boulevard, and along the residential streets further south. Prominent among these houses are the approximately one dozen basically intact Victorian wood frame and brick mansions located on the Upper West Side. Many of these homes were architect-designed, and they range in style from the French Second Empire Anthony Yoerg Sr. House at 215 W. Isabel Street and the James Melady House at 361 S. Stryker Avenue, to the ornate brick Queen Anne Beal House at 23 W. Isabel Street. Probably the most architecturally significant Victorian mansion on the West Side is the intriguingly eclectic and pristine Edward J. and Elizabeth Heimbach House at 64 W. Delos Street, circa 1885, built for the daughter and son-in-law of West Side brewer Martin Bruggeman 

Several churches and institutions reflect the ethnic background of the people who settled the West Side. The most visible symbol of the Irish is the Church of St. Michael tower at 389 S. Robert Street. The tower is all that remains of a large Irish Catholic church built on the site in the late 1860's. The tower has been renamed the Torre de San Miguel, reflecting the newer Chicano community. 

The Church of St. Matthew, rebuilt in the 1960's, and the more significant St. Matthew's School (no. 6), 1901-02, stand at Winifred and Robie streets as symbols of German Catholic influence. Immigrants founded the People's German Church, a small intact wood frame church at 125 E. Congress Street, the German Lutheran Cemetery (now Riverview) at Annapolis Street and Brown Avenue and the Turner's Gymnastic Society, a German cultural, intellectual and physical fitness organization, now headquartered in a former fire station at 643 S. Ohio Street. (pictured at left) 

The Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, founded in 1930, standing at 530 Andrew, serves as a religious and cultural center for the community.

West Side commercial buildings were originally concentrated along routes ascending the bluffs, such as Ohio Street, and along streetcar lines such as Robert, Concord, Fairfield, Dakota, and Stryker. The Survey discovered that the West Side contains fewer intact Victorian commercial buildings than some other parts of the city. Important turn of the century buildings stand at 168 E. Concord Street, 450 S. Robert Street, and 544-5481-, S. Ohio Street. Robert Street remain, the commercial artery in District 3.

The West Side contains or is adjacent to several bridges of architectural and historical importance including the Omaha Swing Bridge at the western edge of the district, the Sixith Avenue High Bridge, 1889, the Chicago Great Western Lift Bridge, the Robert Street Bridge and the Wabasha Street Bridge. The West Side contains two W.P.A. built recreational structures, the Harriet Island Pavilion  and the Baker Playground building at 670 S. Waseca Street. The Riverview Branch of the St. Paul Public Library at 1 E. George Street is another city-owned building of major architectural and historical significance.

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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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