July 14, 2012
Today, my second trip this year to the West Side. I made my first stop at a modestly sized but captivating park on the east side of Smith Avenue at Cliff Street, just north of the High Bridge. The aptly named North High Bridge Park was built about 1987 as part of the construction of the present High Bridge.
The Big Green Chair is one of the works of art in North High Bridge Park that make it so appealing. According to the Community Reporter newspaper, Joel Sisson built the 2,500 pound Chair with help from neighbors.
I tried to get a decent shot of me on the Chair using my camera’s self-timer and this (my fifth attempt) is the best I could do. I found out it’s a lot harder to climb the Chair than it looks. I think I got more exercise scaling it five times than I did on the ride. (Unfortunately I didn’t save the other pictures. They would have made an interesting montage.)
The ironwork in the sculpture garden is a baptismal gate salvaged from the old St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Church, a Czech-Slovak National Church that was nearby. The sculpture pays homage to Czech and Slovak immigrants and their families who have lived and work in the West 7th neighborhood since the 1860s.
Anyone who has looked at a map of Saint Paul knows the West Side isn’t west at all; it’s due south of Downtown. (Parts of St. Anthony, Desnoyer Park, Mac-Groveland and Highland Park make up Saint Paul’s western border.) The West Side was dubbed that years ago because it is the only part of the city that sits west of the Mississippi River.
Within the next decade or so, a motorized engine replaced the horses. Station 21 was decommissioned in 1943 according to the Extra Alarm Association of the Twin Cities.
Historic Saint Paul reports The Saint Paul Turnverein was the next occupant of 643 Ohio. The Turnverein, now known as the Turners, was a place where German immigrants went for cultural experiences of the old country and where their children could get exercise, especially before public schools had phy ed class.
The curtains in the upstairs windows tipped me off that someone other than firefighters live here. Today a couple live in the old fire station.
Many magnificent mansions built in the late 1800s and early 1900s still stand on the West Side. That’s especially true near the bluff overlooking the Mississippi River and downtown Saint Paul. This neighborhood is sometimes known as Prospect Terrace.
The Samuel Dearing house, 241 George Street, is nearly 130 years old. According to the AIA Guide of the Twin Cities, Dearing was a dairy farmer who made his fortune in real estate and lost it a short time later during the 1893 depression.
To the east and south of Cherokee Avenue came Hall Avenue and a unique “garden.”
From Hall Avenue I made a left on Isabel Street West and coasted down a lonnnnnng block to Wabasha Street where my choices were either hit the brakes or a car. (I chose the brakes.)
It’s been difficult to discover much about the history of this building. I did learn that more than one establishment has sold liquor at 427 Wabasha. In December 1896 one F. Marguard applied for a liquor license. One-hundred years later, the Wabasha Bar occupied part of the building but that, too, is gone now.
Turning north on Wabasha, it wasn’t long before I started the ascent from the West Side to downtown.
Climbing up Wabasha Street I realized the heat and hills had taken enough out of me that the day’s exploring was effectively over. I still had seven miles to traverse, including the grueling Montreal Avenue hill from Lexington to Snelling Avenue. As always, I relished the day’s ride, admired some nice homes and views and got some better than usual exercise. Still, I was happy to get off my bike and into the sprinkler to cool off.
Click on the link below to see the map of today’s ride.