Charles, Churches, and Culture – Part 1

May 24, 2014

17.9 miles

Macalester-Groveland, Lexington-Hamline, Frogtown, North End

Houses of worship flourish in Saint Paul. My rides have taken me past large, traditional church buildings with cross-topped spires, small storefront houses of worship with handwritten signs and nearly everything between. Today’s trip featured views of many of them. More on that later…

You’ve likely heard the cries of concern over the declining honey bee population. A couple of neighbors in the 2000 block of Lincoln are doing their part to help and based upon the signage, it’s been successful.

This sign is sits in front of 2005 Lincoln Avenue.

This sign is sits in front of 2005 Lincoln Avenue.

The bee protection must be working because across the street, you can buy honey.

The bee protection must be working because across the street, you can buy honey.

You can see this from I-94 just east of the Cretin-Vandalia exit.

You can see this from I-94 just east of the Cretin-Vandalia exit.

The creative paint job at Creative Lighting, 1728 Concordia Avenue.

“Without darkness there is no light,” is what the right side wall reads.

“Without darkness there is no light,” is what the right side wall reads.

The east wall showcases a different motif.

The east wall showcases a different motif.

Some old bikes sat in the back yard at 1460 Roblyn at Pascal. Many a baby boomer rode something like these.

Vintage bikes which date back to the ‘60s.

Vintage bikes which date back to the ‘60s.

A long-gone Coast to Coast brand bike.

A long-gone Coast to Coast brand bike.

Charles Avenue parallels University two blocks to the north. It recently became a designated “bike boulevard” which includes special signage.

The Charles Avenue sign features a bike, a nod to its designation as a bike boulevard. Notice the upper and lower case letters on the Charles Avenue sign and the much more common all upper case on the Albert Street sign.

The Charles Avenue sign features a bike, a nod to its designation as a bike boulevard. Notice the upper and lower case letters on the Charles Avenue sign and the much more common all upper case on the Albert Street sign.

Galtier Elementary School at Charles and Hamline Avenue is named for one of Saint Paul’s early European settlers, Father Lucien Galtier, who came to the hamlet of Pig’s Eye in 1841. Father Galtier built a log chapel on a bluff above the Mississippi River in what today is downtown.

Galtier Elementary School at Charles and Hamline Avenue is named for one of Saint Paul’s early European settlers, Father Lucien Galtier, who came to the hamlet of Pig’s Eye in 1841. Father Galtier built a log chapel on a bluff above the Mississippi River in what today is downtown.

This plain building is home to Nehemiah’s Walls Baptist Church. It is one of several houses of worship I passed on the ride.

This plain building is home to Nehemiah’s Walls Baptist Church. It is one of several houses of worship I passed on the ride.

Allen and Erma live at 584 Charles Avenue.

Allen and Erma live at 584 Charles Avenue.

Allen Hicks was enjoying a break from some yard work when I pedaled past his house at 584 Charles. He told me, “I built that pond in my front yard about four years ago and then every year, I clean it out and put different water in it, so that’s what I’m doing today.”

Allen continued, “When I cleaned it out I found a few holes in the tarp. I’ll put some duck tape on those holes in the tarp. I’m sure it leaks but the duck tape will take care of that.”

Allen and his wife Erma patch holes in the pond liner with duck tape.

Allen and his wife Erma patch holes in the pond liner with duck tape.

Allen planned to fill the pond with water later in the day. Then, he told me, he’ll reinstall a fountain and add some fun with fake fish and a fake snake.

Allen, who’s lived at 584 Charles for 15 years and Erma, a 30 year resident there, enjoy the area, “My favorite part of the neighborhood is the quietness,“ surprising since only two blocks separate their home from the frenzy of University Avenue.

“We (neighbors) look out for each other a lot.”

Erma and Allen in front of their Charles Avenue home.

Erma and Allen in front of their Charles Avenue home.

Faith Lutheran Church, 499 Charles Avenue.

Faith Lutheran Church, 499 Charles Avenue, was built in 1915 and enlarged in 1932.

 A vigilant robin keeps watch over the neighborhood at Charles and Western.

A vigilant robin keeps watch over the neighborhood at Charles and Western.

Another block and another church.

The unusual design of the Church of St. Adalbert is marvelous. Originally a Polish Catholic church when it opened in 1910, it now primarily serves Vietnamese Catholic parishioners.

The unusual design of the Church of St. Adalbert is marvelous. Originally a Polish Catholic church when it opened in 1910, it now primarily serves Vietnamese Catholic parishioners.

The church’s cornerstone is in Polish according to one source but it looks like Latin to me.

The church’s cornerstone is in Polish according to one source but it looks like Latin to me.

One of the two signature towers that bracket the front of St. Adalbert.

One of the two signature towers that bracket the front of St. Adalbert.

The St. Paul City School, a charter school, is on Edmund Street between Galtier and Elfelt Streets. Although the school bell is gone, the tower remains intact.

The former St. Adalbert Church School at Galtier and Edmund.

Immediately behind (to the north) of St. Adalbert is the church’s former elementary school, built in 1901. This lovingly cared for brick school-house is a rare remaining example, at least in Saint Paul, of school architecture at the turn of the last century. According to Saint Paul Historical, St. Adalbert School shut the doors in 1986 because of low enrollment–14 students attended the school the year it closed. The building reopened as The St. Paul City School, a pubic charter school, in fall 1998.

The St. Paul City School, a charter school, is on Edmund Street between Galtier and Elfelt Streets. Although the school bell is gone, the tower remains intact.

Although the school bell is gone at the old St. Adalbert School, the tower remains intact.

The cornerstone of the former St. Adalbert School.

The cornerstone of the former St. Adalbert School.

Where the old and new meet. The 1901 portion of the building is to the left of the corner and the more recent addition is to the right.

Where the old and new meet. The 1901 portion of the building is to the left of the corner and the more recent addition is to the right.

While the architect did a good job of making the new wing resemble the original, a closer look reveals extra ornamentation, like the brickwork above the window, on the old section.

The main entrance.

The main entrance.

The west side of St. Paul City School and playground. One of the towers of St. Adalbert is visible on the right.

The west side of St. Paul City School and playground. One of the towers of St. Adalbert is visible on the right.

This area of Frogtown developed early in Saint Paul’s history into a neighborhood of railroad workers and other laborers and their families. Their homes were nothing like the elaborate Victorian mansions Saint Paul that give Crocus Hill so much of its charm. Not only were the working-class homes much smaller, the exteriors by and large were constructed without dentils, fluting, transoms and other embellishments that were signatures of the homes of the wealthy. Despite their lack of flair, many of these older homes were well constructed and still look good 100 years or more after they were built.

The brick house at 725 Charles looks good after 114 years and at least one addition.

The brick house at 725 Charles looks good after 114 years and at least one addition.

194 Charles, built in 1888, is small, simple and well built.

194 Charles, built in 1888, is small, simple and solid.

The finger points to the front door which is in back at 194 Charles.

The finger points to the front door which is in back at 194 Charles.

The Minnesota Women’s Building, 550 Rice at Charles, dates back to 1889. In 1988, The Minnesota Women’s Consortium purchased the building, which had been an adult bookstore or, a ‘pornography shop,’ as the Consortium’s website calls it.

The Minnesota Women’s Building, 550 Rice at Charles, dates back to 1889. In 1988, The Minnesota Women’s Consortium purchased the building, which had been an adult bookstore or, a ‘pornography shop,’ as the Consortium’s website calls it.

Many of the streets I traveled today, especially in Frogtown and the North End, are streets I’d never before set foot, bike or even car on before. One of the best parts of this project are meeting people with interesting stories and investigating parts of Saint Paul which I’ve not experienced before.

Below is the map of today’s full ride. The second half of this trek will be posted soon.

http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/509247756

Streets.mn is a non-profit and is volunteer run. We rely on your support to keep the servers running. If you value what you read, please consider becoming a member.

3 Responses to Charles, Churches, and Culture – Part 1

  1. Tony Hunt
    Tony Hunt August 23, 2014 at 12:52 am #

    Yeah that’s Latin.

  2. Tom H. August 26, 2014 at 6:54 pm #

    Unfortunately, churches today are tending to follow the same route as school buildings in a lot of places – bigger churches, and fewer of them. There’s something about a small church nestled in a neighborhood that just feels quintessentially urban.

  3. Adam Miller
    Adam Miller August 26, 2014 at 11:13 pm #

    Maybe if you convert it to something else.

Note on Comments

streets.mn welcomes opinions from many perspectives. Please refrain from attacking or disparaging others in your comments. streets.mn sees debate as a learning opportunity. Please share your perspective in a respectful manner. View our full comment policy to learn more.

Thanks for commenting on streets.mn!