July 24, 2016
St. Anthony Park, Como, North End
Another nice day for a ride, this time to the northern edge of Saint Paul. The first stop – for a window – came in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood.
St. Anthony Park
Like tulip leaves poking through the soil foretelling spring, signs of the State Fair were showing a month before opening day.
On the edge of a parking lot on the south side of Como Avenue, several State Fair Police cars waited in the shade for the Great Minnesota Get Together to begin.
It’s not just the State Fair’s own properties in prep mode for the big event. Nearby homeowners had their own ways of getting ready.
San Francisco has Haight-Ashbury (credited as the place where the counterculture movement began in the late 1960s.) In Saint Paul we get close, with the name anyway, with Hoyt-Asbury.
Chelsea Heights Elementary School, one of many Cap Wigington-designed Saint Paul school buildings, is two blocks east of Como Park Lutheran, at Hoyt and Huron Street.
The original Chelsea Heights building was built in 1932 and exhibits many of the Depression-era Art Deco accoutrements common to design and construction from that time.
Larpenteur Avenue is the northern border of Saint Paul in much of the city. The busy Larpenteur/Lexington Avenue intersection is one of many places where Saint Paul and Roseville meet. This corner features strip malls and stand-alone buildings housing mostly national chains. I’ve dubbed this look “Anytown U.S.A.” since it is nearly impossible to distinguish what city you’re in.
The northern edge of Elmhurst Cemetery was my first stop in the North End. Elmhurst was established in 1858, the same year Minnesota joined the Union. I didn’t explore Elmhurst but will ride its roads and look at grave markers another time.
From Elmhurst Cemetery my eastward progression continued for the equivalent of five blocks to a parking lot with an abandoned building.
I wasn’t familiar with this part of Saint Paul so I had no idea what business had occupied this property. Not until I got to the building and read the sign did I realize I was about to visit the eerie remains of one of the North End’s notable and longest enduring businesses, Linder’s Garden Center. Linder’s closed in November 2013 after 103 years in business.
An October 8, 2013 St. Paul Pioneer Press article by John Brewer said Linder’s employed 50 full time workers and close to 1,000 seasonal workers. A series of unfortunate circumstances led to the demise of Linder’s, according to the Pioneer Press. The Great Recession seriously hurt the company’s finances. Then an unnaturally snowy, cold and late spring in 2013 was the final straw.
Linder’s 11 acre property stretched north to south between Larpenteur and Wheelock Parkway, and east to west between Galtier and Farrington Streets.
I got back on the bike to check out the southern part of the Linder property. Jumping over to Marion Avenue and taking a right, I immediately spotted an abandoned house at which I stopped.
On the southern part of the Linder property, along Wheelock Parkway, there was another building and some old greenhouse foundations.
The last few years that led to Linder’s closing interrupted decades of growth. Albert Linder started his farm store here next to Wheelock Parkway in 1910 selling celery to restaurants. (I don’t know if that building was still here.)
Around the end of World War II celery was being trucked in from California, so the Linders began growing and selling cut flowers. Later they added bedding plants to the inventory.
After spending close to half an hour traipsing through the old buildings and the former fields of Linder’s I got back on the bike and followed Wheelock Parkway southwest to Dale, and Dale to Maryland. There I dismounted for a few shots of the legendary Conny’s Creamy Cone, the North End’s famous soft serve drive-in. No, I didn’t have a cone. On this ride.
From Conny’s it was a short ride to Como Lake, one of Saint Paul’s finest hangouts, no matter what your interest.
The Como Lakeside Pavilion has been the hub of organized activities at the park for more than a century.
Como Park is one of Saint Paul’s largest, finest parks, which provides an exhaustive variety of activities. Therefore, I will need additional rides to properly cover the sites and history of this remarkable park.
St. Anthony Park
Back in St. Anthony, I was getting close to the end of the ride, but the Minnesota Chemical Company building was worth a stop.
Minnesota Chemical Company opened in 1915 as a supplier of laundry and dry cleaning supplies. MCC manufactured soap products for laundries, dairies and creameries, according to its website. When the laundry industry moved toward synthetic soaps Minnesota Chemical shifted from manufacturing to supplying equipment, parts, and repair service for commercial laundries, dry cleaners and coin-operated laundries.
Exploring the Linder’s buildings and property were the most interesting part of this ride. Since then, the property was redeveloped and is now the home of a Hmong language and culture charter school called Community School of Excellence. I’ll make a trip back sometime to see how the school has altered the area.
Click here for the map of today’s ride.
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