July 17, 2015 18.1 Miles Summit – University, Downtown, Lowertown
Restoration of the Painted Lady at 513 Summit is in full swing.
Victorian-era homes with narrow clapboard siding, bold colors, a variety of ornamentation and towers are often called ‘Painted Ladies.’ In researching this ride I learned there’s a bit more to it than that. Painted Ladies refer specifically to Queen Anne-style houses that are painted at least three exterior colors. Saint Paul has quite a variety of the lovely painted ladies, including the dazzling house at 513 Summit Avenue.
The height of the W.W. Bishop Home requires a lift as well as ladders and scaffolding.
The W.W. Bishop House, built in 1891, was in the middle of a major exterior renovation, which includes replacement clapboards and trim where necessary, hand scraping and new paint top to bottom. With a foundation size of 2,459 square feet and three stories of siding, spindles, moldings and scroll work, voluminous gallons of primer and paint were needed to return the home to its Victorian grandeur.
Due to the height workers wore safety harnesses while working on the second and third stories.
One of the paint crew scraped old paint off decorative woodwork.
The peak of the Bishop House shows various stages of work, from wood scraped of pealing paint to a primed section to the left.
Across Summit Avenue from the Bishop House, these four Adirondack chairs wear their address numbers, perhaps to deter thieves.
I pealed off Summit Avenue at Selby Avenue, which is the street that passes by the south side of the Cathedral of Saint Paul.
The Saint Paul Cathedral is reflected in a standing pool of water from a recent rain on Maiden Lane.
Maiden Lane is officially a street that looks like an alley while serving as both. Starting at Selby Avenue I rode southwest along Maiden.
This is the garage for 235 Summit Avenue, the Charles P. Noyes House.
This garage also has a Summit Avenue address; 239 Summit. As you can see it was for sale.
You’re looking at the eastern corner of 269 Summit. Ramsey County records say the structure was built in 1879. No doubt the original purpose was for horses and carriages.
Today, there are living quarters in the building.
It’s hard to grasp the design of 260 Maiden Lane from this picture but as the saying goes, if the walls could talk…
Now a nicely appointed building with four condos, it is difficult to imagine that it was built in 1891 for James J. Hill’s horses and carriages. The Saint Paul Pioneer Press reports that Hill selected Maiden Lane for the carriage house because the back yard of his Summit Avenue property was too steep on which to build. Edina Realty has a tour of one of the condos, which sold in October 2015. Visit http://www.planomatic.com/44485 for a look.
Another view of 260 Maiden Lane.
Many of the bricks used in the construction of the former carriage house came from the Hill family’s previous home in Lowertown.
Sunlight fills the former courtyard which long ago belonged to Hill’s horses.
The entrance to one of the four condos at 260 Maiden Lane.
A shady stone path arcs through trees, hostas and other ground cover immediately across Maiden Lane from 260. It made a great spot for a quick break.
For reasons I cannot recall, I investigated only the block of Maiden Lane adjoining Selby Avenue, turned around and made my way into Downtown via Kellogg Boulevard. A few zigs and zags later and I was in Lowertown. Upon reaching 4th Street East I turned left, went under the Lafayette Freeway Bridge and up to CHS Field, the Saint Paul Saints’ stadium.
This is the back, or east, side of CHS Field. Parking here is primarily for those doing business with the Saints. The CHS Field sign to the right is the back of the scoreboard. The Pointe and Galtier Plaza, two of the areas’ tallest residential buildings, are visible under the scoreboard.
This vantage point is inside the service entrance/loading dock of CHS Field. Equipment for field upkeep is stored here. One of two gates to the playing field was open during pregame maintenance.
I emerged from inside the stadium onto the center field warning track, looking north. The puffy cumulus clouds floating in the blue sky means it’s a great day for a game.
A member of the grounds crew waters the infield grass in preparation for the evening ballgame.
Now back at the service entrance/loading dock area inside the stadium. I thought it wise to get leave the area before I was discovered.
Snoopy and Lucy are two of several of the Peanuts gang on display on 4th Street, just east of CHS Field. The cyclone fence keeps the curious and miscreant away from the Green Line tracks and maintenance facility. The two large structures beyond the tracks are supports for the Lafayette Freeway Bridge.
‘Chuck’ Finn stands nearby Snoopy and Lucy.
Eastward I continued, along 4th, past Willius Street and toward the major East Side railroad corridor.
Willius Street, named in 1872 for brothers Ferdinand and Gustav Willius, very successful bankers in Saint Paul.
In the foreground, a former railroad bridge is now the Bruce Vento Regional Trail for biking and hiking. The bridge in the background carries the very heavily used Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks.
Dappled sunlight touches stone blocks which support a BNSF bridge over 4th Street East.
Phalen Creek looks more like a drainage ditch than a creek as it weaves through the Bruce Vento Nature area.
One of many BNSF freight trains that pass by daily speeds over 4th Street East on its way north.
This is a spectacular area for nearly any outdoor activity. There are parks and trails galore to the north, east and south of this spot.
This decrepit building was going to be renovated and converted into an interpretive center for the Bruce Vento Nature Center. However, years of neglect and vandalism made the restoration too costly, which led to demolition of the building known recently as Lowertown Depot.
Streaks of paint colored the brick on the north side of the building and all but a few of the windows have been broken out.
The document below details the ordinance passed in 1914 by the Common Council, as the city council was known, to build the Standard Oil Warehouse on Commercial Street. The ordinance allowed Standard Oil to install eight storage tanks with a total capacity of 9,353 gallons of petroleum products, including gasoline and refined and lubricating oils.
From the official City of St. Paul publication ‘Proceedings of the Common Council of the City of St. Paul Ramsey County 1914’.
Looking from another spot to the north, the Kellogg Avenue Bridge from Downtown to Dayton’s Bluff is at the top. The now-gone Lowertown Depot building is at the left and part of the Vento Nature Center on the right.
Upon approaching the building, the extent of the defacement was obvious. Note the graffiti inside.
I got this shot by pointing my camera through metal bars placed over the window to keep vandals and vagrants out. Obviously people found other ways inside.
The extent of the building’s decay became obvious as I got closer. Wooden overhangs have deteriorated, window panes smashed out, while graffiti was covered with white and grey paint.
The Lowertown Depot as it looked when I took this ride. The photo is from Commercial Street, which passed the east side of the building.
This Metro Council facility, its purpose not easily determinable, is protected by the tall fence topped with barbed wire. Something important must happen here.
I-94 (right) passes within a dozen yards of Commercial Street, the sliver of asphalt on the left. The cacophony of vehicles rushing past at 60 miles per hour or more is ear-piercing.
The buildings near the southeast corner of East 7th and Wall Streets are an excellent example of the good and bad architecture.
The red brick exterior of the gas station does its best to fit with the neighborhood, such as the six story Allen Building. The corrugated metal wall, however, is an all out assault upon the eyes. A piece of the metal was missing, which exposed the cream-colored brick underneath.
I grabbed some pics of the wall advertisements on the Allen Building before they fade into history, .
J.H. Allen was a wholesale grocery business. The building is more than 100 years old.
The 10 cent cigars sign has become challenging to read.
Another J.H. Allen sign decorates the other side of the north-facing wall.
Back on Summit Avenue and its many stunning Painted Ladies. Nothing I’ve seen compares to the Painted Lady at 985 Summit.
The James A. Wilson/Joseph Eisinger House at 985 Summit Avenue. The house was constructed in either 1892 or 1895 for $16,000, according to “St. Paul’s Historic Summit Avenue” by Ernest R. Sandeen.
Michele Ernst and her husband purchased the house in 2006 and knew it needed more color. “We were going through the Painted Ladies books, because, when we bought the house, it was white. I’m sure it wasn’t white when it was built. There wouldn’t have been any point in putting all the detail in and you wouldn’t have been able to see it.”
More than one color it is – Michele thought there were about 16 different colors!
She credits her husband with picking the colors, “My husband came up with the color scheme based on the fact that I’m a Christmas nut. And so he incorporated the Christmas colors into it as well.”
The Wilson / Eisinger House, right, in about 1902. Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society.
The color scheme continues on the back of the house.
According to Michele, it took the paint crew weeks to complete the work. “The first time it took a month or two because we were playing with the colors, so some colors went up and it was like, ‘Oh, no! That doesn’t work.’ Then we’d choose a different color to go on that section of the house and see how it worked with the other paint colors. “
Michele was happy that no one has criticized the blast of color that is their home. “I did have a neighbor who was running by and who said, when we were first painting it, ‘I was thinking to myself, ‘What the heck are they doing! It looks like a circus has moved in.’ But now that it’s done, I really like it.’”
I count at least six colors just on the corner of the porch ceiling.
Michele said the house needs some paint every year. “Because it’s all wood and especially this (west) side gets the brunt of the winter, we touch up paint every year; sections that are failing. About every five years we do major sections so we just finished repainting it again, for the second time.”
The meticulous detail on the shakes and trim on the front of the house.
The uppermost part of the house features 11 colors by my count.
The unusual style of the address numbers complements the colors above the front entrance.
The doorbell button is framed by what the Ernsts call a ‘creepy lady.’
The Ernst’s unusual doorbell, said Michele, is tied to the interior décor. “There’s a lot of carvings where there’s ladies’ heads. We call them creepy ladies. So we saw a creepy lady doorbell and had to get that one. That’s why we put the lady statues out. We had to have creepy lady statues. It’s just a running joke between me and my husband that there’s creepy ladies everywhere.”
Another type of painted lady.
Summit Avenue as seen from the porch.
The garage has been converted to a guest residence.
This ride was memorable for being bookmarked by two grand Painted Ladies of the Queen Anne era, a Maiden, with a pleasant romp around a couple of Lowertown locales.