Ramsey County History magazine offers a wide variety of articles on the people, places and history of Ramsey County.
Volume 50, Number 4: Winter 2016
The West Publishing Company Buildings and Ramsey County’s Adult Detention Center
Author: Paul D. Nelson
Founded in 1876 in St. Paul, West Publishing Company established its offices and manufacturing plant on the south side of Kellogg Boulevard west of the Wabasha Bridge. By the 1920s West provided a wide range of law books to a national clientele and had established itself as a leader in legal publishing. Ramsey County, on the other hand, built its first jail in St. Paul in 1850. The County subsequently went through two other facilities before it opened its newly constructed Adult Detention Center in 1979 adjacent to West. That building lasted only until 2003. By then, West had relocated to suburban Eagan and sold its buildings to Ramsey County. In 2015 the County began demolition of the combined buildings as it prepared the site for future sale. Author Nelson summed up what had happened: “Any business perched on the [south side of Kellogg] had three options: build up, build down, or relocate.” When faced with changing needs, the leaders of both a private company and a public institution chose to relocate.
Creative Destruction in the Midway
Author: John W. Diers
The intersection of Snelling and University Avenues in St. Paul’s Midway neighborhood is a case study in what economists call “creative destruction.” There in 1908 the Twin Cities Rapid Transit Company built a large carbarn and other streetcar shops. When streetcars gave way to buses in the 1950s, the site became a garage for the Metropolitan Transit system and a shopping center. Then in 2002 Metro Transit relocated and demolished its garage leaving the site empty until 2015 when the City of Saint Paul and the United Football Club agreed that the professional soccer team could build a $120 million stadium on the vacant land and bring Major League Soccer to the Twin Cities. This latest venture is expected to bring new economic vitality to the area.
The Sullwold Saga
Author: William Beyer, FAIA
This article is a biographical profile of a little-known architect, Herbert A. Sullwold (1883–1969), who was born in St. Paul, studied mechanical engineering at the University of Minnesota and in 1907 graduated from the program in architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Sullwold soon found work in a St. Paul architectural firm before going into business for himself. His early commissions were distinguished, but his practice was a modest one until he was selected by the College of St. Catherine (now St. Catherine University) to design the Our Lady of Victory Chapel (1924) and the science building, Mendel Hall, in 1927. For reasons that are today unknown, Sullwold relocated shortly thereafter to the Los Angeles area, where he continued his architectural practice but left few traces of his work there.
The Slaveholders of Payne-Phalen
Author: Christopher P. Lehman
The year 2016 is the 160th anniversary of the purchase of the eastern part of St. Paul’s Payne-Phalen neighborhood by three southerners from Anne Arundel County, Maryland. Two of them—William Sprigg Hall and Harwood Iglehart—owned slaves in Maryland, and the latter kept one there while residing in St. Paul. The third buyer—Charles N. MacKubin—did not own slaves, but he pushed for slavery’s legalization in Minnesota during his term as a state senator in the late 1850s. The Payne-Phalen neighborhood of today, therefore, partly owes its existence to wealth derived from the ownership of African Americans.
James A. Stolpestad, Custom House: Restoring a St. Paul Landmark in Lowertown (St. Paul: Ramsey County Historical Society, 2015).