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Historic Preservation Projects

Reading history books is necessary to any basic historical awareness. But nothing adds to historical understanding quite like trying to recreate something old. Of course tools and labor conditions change, but the recreation of artifacts is one of the few methods of basic historical research. (I did not engage in preservation because I was a history buff—I became a history buff because I got roped into saving 568-74 Dayton Ave.)


  568-574 Dayton Ave.
St. Paul, Minnesota


568-74 Dayton Ave
St. Paul, Minnesota

Built in 1904, the Dayton Ave. rowhouse building was meant to house the middle classes that served the robber barons on nearby Summit Ave. Increasing economic pressures caused the rowhouses to be subdivided in the 1930s. During WWII, a citywide housing shortage made further subdivisions profitable. In the late 1950s, a planned freeway construction project that ran through a nearby black community, changed the racial composition of the neighborhood. There were 31 units when riots broke out in 1968. By 1975, it had been boarded up for 6 years and looked this forlorn.

570 Dayton before
Story as written in the Minneapolis Tribune


419 Ashland Ave
St. Paul, Minnesota

This excellent example of a Queen Anne house needed extensive repair. The couple who had purchased it could afford to replace the gingerbread. Rebuilding this staircase was an excellent education in 1880 era construction techniques.

Cass Gilbert Lytchgate
St. Paul, Minnesota

Cass Gilbert was a Minnesota architect on the make. He had designed the State Capitol building. Eventually he would move his practice to New York where he would design the Woolworth Building--at the time (1910), the tallest building in USA.

A lytchgate is rare architectural feature of old churchyards. It is meant to be large enough to shelter a coffin and the pallbearers (lytch is an old english term for a corpse). This lytchgate was never used for that purpose because the churchyard was never used for burials. Rather, it became a popular feature of the church and rare was a wedding that didn't use it for photographs of the wedding party.



Valley Grove Lutheran Church (inactive)

Built 1862. Restoration 2007-

The Valley Grove churchyard is where Thorstein Veblen's parents are buried. The building was erected by Norwegian immigrants using local materials.


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