Bethesda Hospital demoThe partially demolished Bethesda Hospital building and a large piece of the demolition equipment in the foreground.

Lost Landmarks Near the Capitol and East Side

May 4, 2023

25.25 miles

Macalester-Groveland, West End, Downtown, Capitol Heights, Dayton’s Bluff, East Side

Plentiful signs of spring this fine May day, starting on the corner of Warwick Street and Randolph Avenue in Macalester-Groveland. I paused to gaze at the cow at 478 Warwick. This particular Holstein changes outfits with the seasons, events and, sometimes, the whims of its long-time owners. Years ago, I talked with Pam Becker about their cow, Rosie. But over the winter I vowed to make periodic visits this year to document the creativity of Pam and her fam.

Rosie the Holstein wears a spring outfit.
Rosie the Holstein wears a spring outfit, including a May Day hat and the Ukrainian flag.
Some "wheelie" cool decorating at 1295 Juliet.
Some “wheelie” cool decorating at 1295 Juliet.

The Odd Block On the West End

The much-welcomed tracks of a freshly swept street greeted me on the West End’s Oneida Street. For bikers, it’s a big relief not to worry about wiping out on the loose sand left over from winter sanding and salting operations. Swept streets are as much a beacon of longer, warmer days as are tulips poking above the soil.

freshly swept street
Department of public works street sweepers very recently cleaned the leftover winter grit from the block of Oneida Street near Michigan in the West End.

There’s one block in the West End that I’ve biked and driven past many times but until today, never noticed its idiosyncrasies. This single block of properties — bounded by Goodhue Street on the north, Superior Street on the south, Western Avenue on the east and Richmond Street to the west — is just 60 feet, or one lot, deep (see map below).

Goodhue-Superior narrow block
Single 60-foot deep lots fill the block bordered by Goodhue and Superior Streets (yellow box.) All but two structures on the block have Superior Street addresses. The home on the west end of the block (red asterisk) has a Richmond Street address. The building on the east end of the block (green asterisk) has a Western Avenue address. Property map courtesy Ramsey County.

While plenty of oddly shaped and sized lots dot all areas of St. Paul, I’ve never noticed a block with small single lots like this. A majority of properties with single-family homes or duplexes are between 100 feet and 130 feet deep.

It appears this irregularity was planned. Plat maps as far back as 1874 show the Goodhue-Superior narrow block. More interestingly, the Goodrich-Superior block immediately to the west (between Duke and Richmond) was also platted as one lot deep.

1884 G.M. Hopkins Plat Map
The 1884 G.M. Hopkins plat map shows the Goodhue-Superior “narrow block” was two blocks long! Courtesy of University of Minnesota Borchert Map Library.

Eight of the 10 structures on this unconventional block have Superior Street addresses.

Looking west at houses on Superior Street. The oldest on the block dates to 1880 and the newest were built 100 years later.
MacDonald Montessori
MacDonald Montessori, 175 Western Avenue, is the easternmost building on the narrow Goodhue-Superior Street block. Dating back to 1900 according to Ramsey County records, the nearby Church of St. Stanislaus used this building as a school until 1982.

The Montessori school on the east end of the block (above) is officially on Western Avenue while the home on the west end of the block (below) has a Richmond Street address.

176 Richmond Street.
176 Richmond Street at Superior (and Goodhue.)
Goodhue garages
The Superior Street homes have driveways and garages along Goodhue Street.

Downtown and the Capital City Bikeway

The distance from Superior and Western to Downtown is less than a mile, but the meandering route I chose, while longer, kept me off busy streets like West 7th.

Capital City Bikeway logo
The Capital City Bikeway logo is painted on the path along the route, including here at 10th Street and St. Peter Street.

The Capital City Bikeway is an expanding network of dedicated bike lanes in Downtown St. Paul. The initial segment of this occasionally controversial bikeway along Jackson Street between University Avenue and Kellogg Boulevard opened in 2017. The argument primarily pits businesses concerned about the loss of parking against bikers’ desire for safer, protected bike lanes.

I jumped on the western end of the Capital City Bikeway at 10th Street and Dorothy Day Place, a logical place to access the trail. However, the alignment of the path here creates considerable confusion for drivers in vehicles exiting eastbound I-94 into Downtown at 10th Street.

Cap City Bikeway start
Looking east along 10th Street at Dorothy Day Place. The black vehicle took the 10th Street exit of I-94. Drivers must make an unnatural jog left to avoid entering the Capital City Bikeway.

The problem with the trail’s entrance here is that it aligns with where the eastbound lane of 10th Street traffic naturally should be. Eastbound vehicular traffic has to veer one lane to the left to avoid driving on the bikeway, as you can see. On previous trips along 10th, I’ve seen several cars mistakenly drive on the bike lane. Those weren’t isolated mistakes. The two cones in the bikeway have been added as further deterrents to cars traveling east on 10th.

Two cones have been placed in the bikeway to deter drivers from mistakenly using it as an eastbound lane.
East on CCB
Eastbound on the Capital City Bikeway at 10th and St. Peter. The Fairview Community Health and Wellness Hub, formerly St. Joe’s Hospital, casts the foreground shadow.

The Parking Ramp that Replaced a Park

Capitol Heights, as its name suggests, is in close proximity to the Minnesota State Capitol. The neighborhood just north of Downtown is minutes from the Capital City Bikeway.

A few cars sit on the Martin Luther King Street level of the Centennial Parking Ramp. The Minnesota Judicial Building is in the background.

Although almost impossible to imagine today, the neighborhood around the Minnesota Judicial Building, just east and south of the Capitol, was for decades replete with homes and a park, and later, apartment buildings. Even more surprising is that the neighborhood, known as Central Park, was quite fashionable.

Central Park neighborhood 1916 plat
The Central Park neighborhood in 1916 on the G.M. Hopkins plat map. The transformation of the neighborhood from exclusively mansions to apartment buildings was well underway. Courtesy University of Minnesota Borchert Map Library.

The first mansions were built on Central Avenue (old Bluff Street) between Robert Street and Cedar Street in the mid-1850s, although the majority of the large mansions were built in the late 1880s. (Thanks to Jim Sazevich, the House Detective, for clarifying this.) Central Park itself opened to the public in 1885, thanks to four well-to-do families who lived nearby. The Lampreys, Dawsons, Lindekes and Schurmeiers re-platted their properties and each donated some land for the one-block park.

  • Uri Lamprey House, Central Avenue circa 1900
  • Thomas L Blood residence, 667 Central Park Place West, circa 1888.
  • W. Adams Hardenbergh residence at 665 Central Park Place West circa 1888.
  • Central Park house, apartment circa 1900
Centennial Building and ramp
The Centennial parking ramp is connected to and named for the adjacent office building, in the background.
  • A bird's-eye view of Central Park in 1898.
  • Central Park circa 1900.
  • Central Park looking northwest c1900
  • The view of Central Park from Cedar Street circa 1900.
  • Central Park with the Capitol in the background, circa 1905.
  • Children swimming in the Central Park fountain circa 1925

The lovely Central Park stood for about 90 years on the spot now occupied by the three-level Centennial Parking Ramp. If not for a one-foot-by-one-foot bronze plaque affixed to one of the ramp’s concrete supports, details of the park and the exclusive neighborhood that surrounded it likely would have been relegated to obscure writings at the Historical Society.

Central Park plaque
The Central Park plaque is attached to one of the Centennial Ramps’ supports near the south wall.

Farewell Bethesda Hospital

Bethesda Hospital demo
The partially demolished Bethesda Hospital building and a large piece of demolition equipment in the foreground.

The former Bethesda Hospital building’s days were quickly coming to an end when I visited on May 3. Now, nothing is left of the long-time Capital Heights mainstay. The hospital was established by a Lutheran society in 1882, and “opened, closed, reopened and moved several times in its first ten years of existence,” according to the Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church Archives.

10 story Bethesda tower
The oldest section of the 10-story Bethesda building opened in 1932. It ceased operation as a hospital in 2020.
1929 Bethesda ad
A 1929 advertisement advocated for approval of a larger, modern Bethesda Hospital. Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society.

The 10-story Bethesda Hospital building being demolished opened in 1932, with expansions in 1959, 1965 and 1982. For decades Bethesda operated as a “community hospital,” providing emergency and other traditional hospital services to nearby residents including those in the North End and East Side. About 1989, its care focus shifted from short-term to long-term care and rehabilitation. In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, Bethesda shifted from long-term care to COVID-19 care until its closure in November 2020. Follow the links, below, to see what the interior of Bethesda looked like during its time as a COVID-19 hospital.

  • Bethesda demolition
  • The former main entrance to Bethesda
  • Workmen removed bricks
  • demo of bethesda
  • old Bethesda Hospital Art Deco tower

While Bethesda staff cared for its last patients in 2020, it didn’t spell immediate doom for the building. Ramsey County leased the former hospital, which it used as an emergency homeless shelter.

In May 2022, Fairview Health Services retook possession of the empty building. The final nail in the coffin of the Bethesda building came the same month with legislative approval of M Health Fairview’s plan to replace it with a 144-bed in-patient mental health facility.

the 144-bed inpatient mental health hospital at Bethesda site
A rendering of the 144-bed inpatient mental health hospital that will be built on the Bethesda Hospital site at 559 Capitol Boulevard. Courtesy of Capitol Area Architectural and Planning Board.
Crown Princess Louise, second from left, meets an eight-day-old baby, Ralph Stacker, Jr., son of Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Stacker of St. Paul, held by nurse Lucille Quamme. At the left of the Crown Princess is her lady-in-waiting, Miss Brita Stuch. Courtesy of Hennepin County Library.

Seeger, 3M and Arcade Street

Arcade & Neid
For some 80 years, Seeger Refrigerator Company buildings stood on both sides of this intersection.

The intersection of Arcade Street and what is now Neid Lane was for decades a bustling industrial hub.

Seeger Refrigerator on Arcade
Seeger Refrigerator buildings line both sides of Arcade Street in this undated photo. Minnesota Historical Society.

Seeger Refrigerator (which became Whirlpool) and the 3M headquarters and campus were the two largest and best known. Hundreds more worked at the Hamm’s Brewery a few blocks south.

  • A Seeger dry-air siphon refrigerator circa 1900.
  • An early Seeger Refrigerator ad in Woman's Home Companion magazine April 1912.
  • The sprawling Seeger factory, date unknown.
  • Seeger also made refrigeration equipment for professional kitchens and delis, including Saint Paul's own Golden Rule Department Store.
  • Like most factories, women at Seeger frequently took over traditionally male jobs on the production line during World War II. Minnesota Historical Society

The intersection and neighborhood began to change both physically and socioeconomically in the early ’60s. The relocation to Maplewood of 3M’s headquarters and many jobs was the first blow. The 1984 closing of the former Whirlpool/Seeger plant was another gut punch to the neighborhood. Within three years the empty Whirlpool buildings were taken down, replaced by the Seeger Square strip mall (below).

The Seeger Square Shopping Center strip mall sits on part of the land that once held the factory and headquarters of Seeger/Whirlpool Refrigerators.

The loss of thousands of jobs from those big employers filtered down with the expected effect on many smaller businesses—restaurants, bars and stores—in the neighborhood and the entire East Side.

Arcade small businesses in 1959
Many small businesses lined Arcade and East 7th Streets in 1959. These businesses catered to thousands of Seeger employees and those at nearby 3M and Hamm’s. Minnesota Historical Society.

One Arcade Street industrial business that persevered is Northern Iron & Machine. The nearly two-block-long factory is a collection of structures built between 1913 and 1974.

Wells Street just east of Mendota Street
Wells Street just east of Mendota Street. Part of the Northern Iron & Machine factory is on the left.
Northern Iron 1913 building
The 1913 Northern Iron building is on the east along Forest Street at Wells.
Northern Iron factory
The view of much of the Northern Iron factory, looking northwest from Forest Street.
Northern Iron main entrance
The main entrance to Northern Iron is off Phalen Boulevard.

Today Northern Iron & Machine employs about 77 people in its iron foundry and metallurgical lab.

Vestiges of 3M

aerial view of several 3M buildings
An aerial view of several 3M buildings, including Building 21. right center, company headquarters from 1940 to 1962. The photo was taken in 1942. Minnesota Historical Society.

3M once had more than 40 buildings and thousands of scientists, production workers, support staff and executives on the East Side, on many blocks on either side of Forest Street and what is now Phalen Corridor.

3M's Saint Paul campus, date unknown.
3M’s St. Paul campus, date unknown.
(click map to enlarge)

3M moved its East Side corporate headquarters to Maplewood in 1962. Over the next 50 years, the remainder of its Dayton’s Bluff employees followed as 3M gradually closed the remaining East Side facilities. Still, bountiful reminders and artifacts are dispersed around the more than 45 acres of former 3M property. The most informative, and arguably most interesting, are interpretive panels featuring stories regarding the growth and development of 3M, its people, and its major products on St. Paul’s East Side.

This marker explaining the impact 3M and its employees had on the East Side and beyond. This marker is on open land at Wells and Duchess Streets, just east of Forrest.
A close up of the interpretive panel at Wells and Duchess Streets.
A close up of the interpretive panel at Wells and Duchess Streets.

Only one of the 3M buildings was spared from demolition after the St. Paul Port Authority’s 2008 purchase of the properties.

Demolition of 3M’s tape and abrasives building, right, in 2012. Building 21 is on the left. Courtesy of Save Building 21 Facebook page.
The newly completed Building 21 in 1940. Detroit architect Albert Kahn designed the Art Deco 3M headquarters (as well as the now-demolished Highland Park Ford plant). Minnesota Historical Society.

Undoubtedly the most important, the beloved Building 21 is now the main office of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. The Art Deco Building 21 served as 3M’s corporate headquarters from its 1939 construction until the 1962 move to Maplewood. It, too, was slated for the wrecking ball before extensive vocal opposition from neighbors and preservationists eventually forced the Port Authority to revise the plan.

While Building 21 has never been moved, it’s had three different addresses. When it opened, the building was located at 900 Fauquier Street, named for the Virginia county, according to Don Empson’s The Street Where You Live. In 1957 the St. Paul City Council renamed it Bush Street after 3M Chief Executive Archibald Bush. Finally, after the demolition of the other former 3M buildings in the 2010s, the removal of a block each of Reaney Avenue and Mendota Street, and the truncation of Bush Avenue, 900 Bush became 777 Forest Street.

Archdiocese entrance
The main entrance of the Archdiocese office still bears the original name of the 3M Company.
The Archdiocese office and former Building 21 as seen from the northeast.
The Archdiocese office and former Building 21 as seen from the northeast.
Building 21 #
Another reminder of the time decades ago when this building was the hub of 3M.

One other piece of 3M history stands next to the Archdiocese headquarters. The 66 foot tall flagpole was installed at the corner of Bush Avenue and Mendota Street in September 1941.

Historic 66 foot tall 3M flagpole
The historic flagpole next to the Twin Cities Archdiocese headquarters. 3M officials had the 66 foot tall flagpole installed in September 1941.
3M flag-raising October 4, 1941
The 3M Company Band played the Star Spangled Banner and members of the Dayton’s Bluff American Legion raised an American flag that flew over the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. Many 3M employees enjoyed the pageantry of the flag-raising on October 4, 1941. Minnesota Historical Society.

Moving a block north as the crow flies, I got a different look at the building that replaced Seeger/Whirlpool.

Verticle Endeavors, an indoor “rock” climbing facility, opened at 855 Phalen Boulevard in about 1990. Nicros, adjacent to and owned by the same people, designs and manufactures climbing walls and related accessories. While not readily apparent, both businesses are actually in the lower level of the Seeger Square mall.

Vertical Endeavors and Nicros operate within the building at 845 and 855 Phalen Boulevard.
Vertical Endeavors and Nicros operate within the building at 845 and 855 Phalen Boulevard.
Vertical Endeavors indoor climbing gym entrance.
Vertical Endeavors indoor climbing gym entrance.
Climbing wall ready to ship
Several sections of a climbing wall are ready for shipping outside of the Nicros factory at 845 Phalen Boulevard.

To paraphrase an old saying, things continue to change. Seeing parts of St. Paul that are or have changed drastically makes me wonder: what transformations will come in future decades?

Editor’s note: This article is reprinted from Wolfie Browender’s blog, Saint Paul by Bike: Every Block of Every StreetAll photos by the author unless otherwise noted.

Wolfie Browender

About Wolfie Browender

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Wolfie Browender has lived in Saint Paul with his wife, Sue, since 1986. His two adult daughters also live in the Capital City, one Downtown and the other on the East Side. Wolfie bikes for fun and exercise. Follow his travels along the more than 800 miles of streets in his quest to ride every block of every street in Saint Paul on his blog Saint Paul By Bike at