July 15, 2012
Highland Park, West End, Downtown
This is the first time I’ve selected one street and only one street to ride. I decided to ride the length of Randolph Avenue because it is the major east-west thoroughfare in my neighborhood. Thus I regularly traverse Randolph when I’m riding to the east and I tend to think (a term I use loosely) rather than focusing on what I’m seeing.
I began at the western end of Randolph, at Mississippi River Boulevard. It’s nothing unusual looking east along Randolph but this is a very beautiful spot in other directions with the river, trees and stately homes, especially on a sunny day.
The first four blocks of Randolph are nearly all residential but that changes dramatically at Cleveland Avenue where there are businesses on three corners and St. Catherine University on the fourth. I call this the beginning of “The Catholic Corridor” for reasons that will soon become apparent.
St. Catherine’s, another of Saint Paul’s many institutions of higher learning, takes up the next two blocks of the south side of Randolph. The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondolet established St. Kate’s in 1905. According to the school’s website, the University is named for St. Catherine of Alexandria, a fourth-century Egyptian philosopher.
Three of the intricate friezes, which represent Christ and his disciples, on the exterior of Our Lady of Victory Chapel. Click on any of the shots for a closer look.
This is by no means a comprehensive look at St. Kate’s, which has many other buildings, programs and facilities too numerous to visit or write about. This segment of the “Catholic Corridor” continues with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondolet property, located immediately to the east of St. Kate’s.
“Catholic Corridor” continuation-Holy Spirit Catholic School, which opened in fall of 1937, is on the southwest corner Randolph and Albert.
Next up in “The Catholic Corridor” is Cretin-Derham High School or more accurately, the school’s baseball field. The school sits just south, in the background of this shot.
CDH has a nationally known athletics program. The scoreboard lists the two best-known baseball players to have played there.
A personal reflection of the Cretin-Derham Hall bushes; at least 10 years ago, in spring if I recall correctly, I drove past the field and noticed those distinctive bushes had been trimmed. A second look and I realized they rather crudely spelled out “Central” as in Saint Paul Central High School. While I find this and all acts of vandalism objectionable, I had to grudgingly give the Central students a small nod for creativity and execution.
Randolph and Hamline Avenue, just east of the CDH ball field, is the next corner business spot. Establishments on this corner include a barber shop, grocery store, gas station, furniture store and liquor store.
The assortment of homes, businesses, apartments, churches and other facilities along Randolph is intriguing and it creates strong neighborhoods along the length of Randolph.
I can’t think of a better name for a store than “Accordion Heaven.” I’d be shocked if another street in the U.S. can claim a place called “Accordion Heaven,” another name for Mahler Music Center.
For years, Engine 10, Medic 10, and Ladder 10 were housed in this building. In April 2010, Fire Station 10 closed and consolidated with Station 1, and the equipment and firefighters moved into a brand new fire station at west 7th Street and Randolph which I visited later in the ride.
Randolph and View Street-Dannecker’s, a neighborhood institution, is on the northwest corner. I have never been inside so I can only imagine what it’s like.
On the southeast corner, officially 486 View Street, is the old St. James School and Hall. More recently it housed the combined St. Francis-St. James United Catholic School, which has since moved about four blocks away at 426 Osceola Avenue.)
The William and Alfred Godette Memorial Building is named in honor of two brothers who were among about 20 African-American firefighters who served the SPFD early in the 20th century.
William joined the SPFD in 1885 and younger brother Alfred followed in 1909. Of course, the Godette brothers and the other African-American firefighters of the era were subject to discrimination and segregated from white firefighters who comprised the rest of the fire department. Despite that, William served the city of Saint Paul for 41 years and retired as a captain. Alfred was killed fighting a fire in 1921. The Saint Paul Daily Planet has an excellent story about the Godettes at http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/news/2010/09/29/station-1-hq-named-godette-brothers.
Fire Station 1 is a combination of the personnel and equipment of decommissioned Station 10 (located several blocks west on Randolph) and old Station 1 and is a part of the Godette Memorial Building.
The last three blocks of Randolph, between the intersections with Toronto/Drake and Shepard Road, quickly descend from the well-kept mix of businesses and homes of the past three and a half miles into empty lots, warehouses and light industrial buildings that have long ago seen their best days.
The photos don’t convey how ripe for redevelopment this area is. That will become more glaring once rehabilitation of the nearby Schmidt brewery site begins in 2013. With the Mississippi River less than half a mile away, it seems that a transformation from an underutilized and worn warehouse district is an improved economy and creative developer away.
With that, I concluded the eastbound Randolph ride. Next, 3.7 miles back west along the same route and different views of the homes, businesses and “Catholic Corridor.”
**You might have noticed lighting differences in photos in this entry-cloudy in most but sun in some. That’s because the clouds started to break up on my ride back west. All pictures were taken the on the same ride on July 15. However, I posted pictures and wrote about the sites I saw along Randolph Avenue moving strictly from west to east in an attempt to lessen the confusion to you.
Today’s route: http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/154288041
I never knew about the Godette brothers. Great post, Wolfie!
Excellent post. We live 1 block south of Leitner’s. Therefore, I have one quibble. Skinner’s Tavern, where Paul Molitor is supposed to have sung “Glory Days” on New Year’s Eve several years ago, would have been a better photo subject than Dannecker’s (which I have been inside and know to be, to be delicate, a lesser establishment).
Buster, thanks for the nice comment and the suggestion to check out Skinner’s. If you have more about Paul Molitor’s concert, please let me know!