The Mystery Machine was parked on the north side of Nevada Avenue.

Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? On the East Side

Editor’s Note: A version of this story originally appeared in Saint Paul By Bike on April 29, 2024 and is reprinted with permission.

Highland Park, Frogtown, North End, Payne-Phalen, Railroad Island, Dayton’s Bluff, Lowertown, Downtown, West End

September 19, 2023 – 30.7 Miles

The streets of St. Paul were once paved with bricks and cobblestones. Perhaps you’ve spotted the old red brick on thoroughfares in the Macalester-Groveland and Summit Hill neighborhoods. The only place in St. Paul I know is still paved with cobblestones is about five blocks of Osceola Avenue in Summit Hill between St. Clair and Milton.

Science and technology have yielded an evolution, in this case of the preferred materials and processes for pavement to either concrete or blacktop (bituminous, as pavement professionals refer to it).

A more haphazard way to glimpse the roadway of yore is through potholes and street construction, which often expose the subsurface of our streets. From time to time, this will not merely reveal the pavers but also long-buried trolley tracks. A great example of this was in the 500 block of Cleveland Avenue South in Highland Park.

Cobblestone on Cleveland Avenue.
This track on Cleveland Avenue were part of the Randolph-Hazel Park-Mahtomedi trolley line, according to a 1933 streetcar map. Photo: Wolfie Browender
Trolley track and cobblestones on Cleveland Avenue.
Cobblestones and a rusting trolley track reemerged, likely for the first time in 60-plus years, during resurfacing of Cleveland Avenue in Highland Park in the summer of 2023. Photo: Wolfie Browender

It’s interesting to imagine what Cleveland Avenue, in this case, was like when the trolleys were a common way to travel around St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Summit Hill

A tiny canary-colored house and rectangular shadow box, both affixed to a brick, cement and iron fence at 851 Goodrich Ave., piqued my curiosity. The little house and box are the Tiny Treasure House and Tiny Art Gallery, according to signage.

The Tiny Treasure House and Box at 851 Goodrich Avenue.
The Tiny Treasure House and Art Gallery at 851 Goodrich Ave. Photo: Wolfie Browender
A description card of the Tiny Treasure House. "Feel free to take a treasure or leave a treasure."
Photo: Wolfie Browender

Less than a block east and on the north side of Goodrich is a home that, to me, is breathtakingly beautiful. There is so much to see on the vibrant Diedrik Omeyer house at 808 Goodrich Ave. that one could (and I did) find themselves spellbound. Omeyer was partner in the architectural firm Omeyer and Thori.

Diedrick Omeyer house at 808 Goodrich Avenue. Ornate detailed Victorian-era home with pale blue siding and white and maroon accents.
The remarkable Diedrick Omeyer house at 808 Goodrich Ave. was constructed in 1888. Photo: Wolfie Browender

Local architecture critic Larry Millett doesn’t share my enthusiasm for the Omeyer house. “They specialized in mad-dog Victorian houses, foaming with ornament,” he wrote in the 2007 AIA Guide to the Twin Cities. He added that the house is “one of their prime extravaganzas” and will “clear your sinuses just by looking at it.”

Below are photos that show more details of this meticulously restored Queen Anne Victorian.

Omeyer and Martin Thori, both Norwegian immigrants, formed their architectural partnership in 1888. They designed college and municipal buildings, libraries, courthouses and homes, including Bockman Hall at Luther Seminary in Saint Paul. More than 15 of their works are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

An Unusual Little Library

When I started my blog, Saint Paul By Bike, in 2011, Little Free Libraries were rare. It’s great that they’re commonplace around St. Paul today. The often imaginative and always useful boxes of books still catch my eye, but it’s refreshing to see a distinctive creation like the Library of Banned Books at 623 Lincoln Ave.

Library of Banned Books,
The Library of Banned Books is a timely take on the Little Free Library. Photo: Wolfie Browender
Husband’s Secret” by Liane Moriarity among many other books in the Little Free Library.
Of the books in the library, only “The Husband’s Secret” by Liane Moriarity appears to be on a list of books banned somewhere in the U.S. Photo: Wolfie Browender

North End Twins

Winding my way from Summit Hill into Frogtown and then the North End, I again found myself on Jessamine Avenue. In the 100 block of West Jessamine I pulled up to (fraternal?) twin Victorians at 105 and 111. Both were built in 1884 on lots of the same size, according to Ramsey County records.

105 Jessamine Avenue West (left) and 111 Jessamine (right),
105 Jessamine Ave. W. (left) and 111 Jessamine (right), virtually twins, were built in 1884. Photo: Wolfie Browender
Raymond Gangl and his brother Clarence (Bud) at 111 Jessamine circa 1918.
Raymond Gangl and his brother Clarence (Bud) in front of 105 Jessamine circa 1918. The Gangl family moved into the home by 1910 and raised their 11 children here, according to the Lyfmap memory.


The route I traveled to the East Side — more specifically Payne-Phalen — via Maryland Avenue over both the Trout Brook Sanctuary and then 35E was just under a mile. At Arkwright Street I turned north and pedaled for eight blocks to Nevada Avenue East.

There is a noticeable progression in the age and architecture of the homes on Jessamine and those on Nevada, which reflects the growth of the city. The homes in the 400 block of Nevada, just east of Arkwright, were built in the Depression-era. Continuing east through the 500, 600 and into the 700 blocks of Nevada, Ramsey County records show a more varied stock of houses. Many date to the 1930s and ‘40s with a smattering from the 1900s, 1910s and ‘50s.

Nevada Avenue Mystery Machine

The block of Nevada Avenue between Walsh and Weide streets features close to an even number of homes built in the ‘40s and ‘50s. But what stopped me here was not the homes; it was a real live full-sized version of the Mystery Machine van from the animated series “Scooby-Doo!”

The Mystery Machine was parked on the north side of Nevada Avenue.
The Mystery Machine was parked on the north side of Nevada Avenue. Photo: Wolfie Browender

After a walk-around, I grabbed my camera to document this unexpected and special vehicle. Then I traipsed to the front door, eager to talk to the owner of the Mystery Machine. Unfortunately no one answered. Before I could jump back on the bike to scout the area for a short time, a car pulled up and two people got out. It was my good fortune that those folks owned the Mystery Machine, and they were delighted to share the story.

Guy and Teresa Frechette stand next to Mystery Machine #7.
Guy Frechette, with a mischievous sparkle in his eye, and his wife Teresa stand next to Mystery Machine #7. Photo: Wolfie Browender

Among the first things Guy Frechette and his wife, Teresa, explained is that this Mystery Machine is not their first, second or even third. It’s the seventh! They created the first nearly 30 years ago at the behest of their then 3-year-old son, Avery, who loved what he called “army trucks” — any vehicle with a camouflage paint scheme.

The Frechettes owned an old, rusty, yellow conversion van that Guy described as “really ugly, but the inside was real nice.” One day Guy decided it would be cool to paint the van in camo colors. “I said, ‘You know what? We should camouflage this, and then it would cover up the rust. And the kids could help paint.’”

So Guy explained the plan to Avery. “I said, ‘You know what, Avery? We’re going to paint the van and you get to pick how we paint it.’ And he goes, ‘Really, Dad?’ He says, ‘I want to paint it like an Army truck!’”

Off Guy and Avery went to buy the paint. “On the way to the the paint store,” he said, “we went through a McDonald’s, got a Happy Meal, and I was pulling up to the paint store and Avery, from the back car seat, says, ‘Dad, can I really paint the van anyway I want?’

“‘Sure you can,’” Guy answered. “And out of the Happy Meal he pulls a little Mystery Machine and he goes, ‘I want to paint it like this.’”

Guy stated he was “dumbfounded” at Avery’s change of plans but happy to go along with it. “We brought the little toy in [to the paint store]. We matched the colors and we painted the first Mystery Machine.”

Mystery Machine #1 circa late 1990s.
Mystery Machine #1 circa late 1990s. Photo: Guy Frechette

All good things come to an end and so it was for the Mystery Machine. “So I thought, ‘OK, well we’ll buy another one, paint that,’ And we’ve just been doing that ever since. And this is number seven.”

Teresa added, “He’s an artist. And we’re all for father-son bonding. It was fun. It was a big deal for them.“

No two of the Mystery Machine exteriors have been painted the same. One, said Guy, was decorated like the van in the Saturday morning cartoon from 1969, while another was modeled after the 2002 live-action movie. Others were a fusion of both.

Mystery Machine #4.
Mystery Machine #4. Photo: Guy Frechette
Mystery Machine #6.
Mystery Machine #6. Photo: Guy Frechette
The front of Mystery Machine #6.
The front of Mystery Machine #6. Photo: Guy Frechette

The paint schemes aren’t the only things that have varied. “This is an old handicap van. But the one before, it was a completely decked out Pleasure-Way. It’s like a road truck, but nicer. And the one before that was a Pleasure-Way. Pleasure-Ways have everything: a microwave, stove, refrigerator, shower, bathroom, all that stuff.”

Guy continued, “Those Pleasure-Ways are heavy vans. They get like 12 miles to the gallon on the highway. You got everything in them. And they’re nice for camping. But this one we went light. It’s like a big empty box, and we put in a bed and a porta-potty and that’s it. We can get up to 20 miles to the gallon with that thing.”

Mystery Machine #7 raised bed with Scooby-Doo themed bedding. Below the platform is a storage space.
The bed inside the current Mystery Machine, #7, is on a platform the provides ample storage below. Photo: Wolfie Browender

Teresa explained that for the first few Mystery Machines, Guy favored well-used vans, but after the third, he upgraded. She explained that to me. “And so then we got one of the Pleasure-Ways. It was really nice. White. Perfect. And my mom said, ‘He’s not going to paint that van, is he?’ And I said, ‘No.’”

But, of course Guy did, she explained. “He didn’t have time to finish it. I go, ‘Just paint one side and we’ll park it the other way.’ So he literally parked the side that was unpainted to where my mom would see it. And then the other side still had Scooby-Doo started on it.”

A stuffed Scooby peers out the window and a Scooby curtain is visible on the far right edge of the window.
A stuffed Scooby peers out the window and a Scooby curtain is visible on the far right edge of the window. Photo: Wolfie Browender

The interior of the van is just as decked out in Scooby-Doo gear. A stuffed Scooby, window clings, bed sheets, pillow cases and curtains adorn the inside. “We got a whole box full of toys, lunchboxes and stuff that people just give us that have Scooby-Doo on them. And then when we get a gaggle of kids, we will pass that stuff out.” T-shirts and small bags of Scooby Snacks cookies are other items they carry in the van, ready to give to fans.

“The majority of the people smile and get a laugh at it. And if you can make somebody have a little happy thought for the day, then it’s worth it.“

Teresa Frechette talking about the reactions people have to the mystery machines

The Mystery Machine is simply about enjoyment, explained Guy. “We have one rule with the Mystery Machine. We don’t take it anywhere unless it’s somewhere fun. So if we’re going camping, we’re going to a concert or some sort of event, we take the Mystery Machine.”

Mystery Machine #2 at a parade.
Mystery Machine #2 at a parade. No word on whether they “crashed” this parade or were invited. Photo: Guy Frechette

Naturally, the Mystery Machines draw attention everywhere, which has led to enduring memories. “What we found is the most fun is to crash a parade,” Guy said. “I kid you not. We don’t do anything ahead of time and we’re driving through a town in Wisconsin and they have a parade at 2 o’clock and it’s 1:30. Let’s do it!”

Teresa clarified that they don’t exactly crash most parades. “We usually go find the person who’s in charge of the parade and say, ‘Would you care?’ ‘Oh, no,’ they said. ‘We saw it parked there last night. We were hoping you’d ask.’ So usually the parade people want you.”

The Mystery Machine (#7) parked on Nevada Avenue.
The Mystery Machine (#7) parked on Nevada Avenue. Guy and Teresa’s home is in the background. Photo: Wolfie Browender

The Frechettes’ Mystery Machines used to make an annual appearance at St. Paul Saints games along with friends who had a car based on the Ectomobile from the movie “Ghostbusters.” One year, a few hours before they were scheduled to attend the game, the Frechettes got a phone call and the caller told Guy that actor Bill Murray, at that time a co-owner of the Saints who starred in the original “Ghostbusters,” wanted to talk to him. Guy’s first reaction: “I just flat out didn’t believe him.”

Moments later, another person got on the line and said, “‘This is Bill Murray, and I want to ask you a favor. I don’t want you to drive your Mystery Machine in the parade at the Saints game tonight.'” The reason Murray gave? “‘I’m going to make a surprise guest appearance, and I don’t want you to show up the Ghostbuster car.'” Guy agreed to the request, and a couple weeks later they received an invitation to another Saints game. “They had a parking spot reserved for us on the sidewalk in front of the stadium, about 20 feet from the door. We were the only car that was invited. And we had free tickets and all that stuff, so he did make it up to us.”

Most of the time, it’s not about a large public appearance. In fact, they’ll go out of their way to make the day for a Mystery Machine fan, Guy said. “We had this really nice Scooby-Doo stuffed animal that had been in the van for three, four, maybe five years. My kid was driving the van, and this mother wanted to look at the van; she had a little kid with special needs. So my son gave that kid the Scooby-Doo. And I thought, ‘Oh, I raised him, right.’”

Then Teresa told me about the time a woman was following them in her car. “I said, ‘Guys, somebody’s following us.’ So we pulled off and she pulled in and she said, ‘My son is just thrilled.’ We had some stuff in there we were able to give him, too.”

At least once, the notoriety had negative consequences. “Mystery Machine number five was stolen. And it actually made the front page of the St. Paul paper, “ Guy explained. carried a report of the stolen Mystery Machine on May 13, 2016.
The website of the Saint Paul Pioneer Press newspaper,, carried a report of the stolen Mystery Machine on May 13, 2016.

Teresa and Guy shared the tale of an unexpected and ultimately amusing drive Guy took one morning. It began as he rolled down an I-35E on-ramp. “I moved my sun visor over and I accidentally hit the green strobe lights as I was going into rush-hour traffic.”
Guy didn’t realize the strobe lights on the van were furiously flashing. “All of a sudden all these people make room for the Mystery Machine. And I’m waving ‘thank you.’ I drive in there and they’re just like this,” he said, gesturing to show how cars pulled over for him. “I’m about 10 miles down the road in this heavy rush-hour traffic. And I go, ‘My strobe lights are on.’ And I thought, ‘Man, I could have got in so much trouble for doing that.’”

Out of stories, Guy and Teresa did one more thing before I left. They went into the back of the Mystery Machine, and presented me with a Scooby T-shirt and a bag of Scooby Snacks. It reinforced the generous spirit they displayed during our chat.

Greenbrier Street

The building now home to the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Kidist Selassie Church has stood at 1260 Greenbrier St. for well over a century. Since its 1900 construction, at least two other congregations — St. James Episcopal Church and St. Stephen (Ukrainian) Catholic — have held services in the building at the corner of Greenbrier and Orange Avenue East.

Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Kidist Selassie Church.
The Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Kidist Selassie Church at 1260 Greenbrier. The international headquarters of the church are in Asmara, Eritrea and are related to the Coptic Orthodox Church, established in Egypt in the 1st Century. Photo: Wolfie Browender
Greenbrier Street at Lawson Avenue.
Greenbrier Street at Lawson Avenue sits at a high point. This is the view along Lawson looking west. Photo: Wolfie Browender

Supreme Homes on Dayton’s Bluff

Three future United States Supreme Court justices lived for years in St. Paul. The first, Pierce Butler, moved to St. Paul shortly after his 1887 graduation from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. He served on the U.S. Supreme Court from 1923 until his death in 1939.

The other two, Warren E. Burger and Harry Blackmun, remarkably grew up about six blocks apart on Dayton’s Bluff. They became friends in Sunday school when they were 5 or 6 years old, went to grade school together and simultaneously sat on the high court for 15 years.

The U.S. Supreme Court in 1973.
The U.S. Supreme Court in 1973. Front row, left to right: Justices Potter Stewart, William O. Douglas, Chief Justice Warren E. Burger , William Brennan, and Byron White. Back row, left to right: Justices Lewis F. Powell, Thurgood Marshall, Harry Blackmun, and William Rehnquist. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Although I’d taken at least a dozen bike rides through Dayton’s Bluff and driven through many more times by car, I’d never seen the former homes of either Burger or Blackmun until making a point to do it this day.

Warren E. Burger was born in St. Paul on September 17, 1907. Burger, his parents and six siblings lived in the small two-bedroom home at 695 Conway St. from 1914 to 1933, according to Saint Paul Historical.

Former home of Warren Berger 695 Conway Street
The one-time home of former U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Berger at 695 Conway St. on Dayton’s Bluff. It was built in 1900 and looked to be well cared for. Photo: Wolfie Browender
Plaque recognizing the former residence of Warren Burger.
A plaque recognizing the former residence of Warren Burger is affixed to the front of the home. Photo: Wolfie Browender

While not a native St. Paulite — Harry Blackman was born in the little Illinois town of Nashville on November 12, 1908 — he and his family moved to 847 E. Fourth St. in St. Paul when he was no older than 5.

Harry Blackmun, left, in 1912. Minnesota Historical Society.
Harry Blackmun, left, in 1912. Photo: Minnesota Historical Society
The Dayton's Bluff home in which former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun grew up in at 847 Fourth Street East.
The Dayton’s Bluff home in which former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun grew up in at 847 E. Fourth St. Photo: Wolfie Browender

In an oral history interview conducted in 1994 and ’95 by former law clerk Harold Hongju Koh, Blackman looked back on the the Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood of his formative years. “It was distinctly lower middle class, I would say, occupied largely by working people — they were good, solid people, but nearly all in modest circumstances. It was a good place to grow up actually.”

Blackman also recalled young Warren Burger’s family. “He lived in a modest little house on Conroy [sic] Street in St. Paul. His mother in my estimation was a saint; she brought up a large family on little or nothing. We didn’t have much, but the Burgers had less than we did.”

Van Buren School, 275 Maple Street on Dayton's Bluff. Photo circa 1905.
Warren Burger and Harry Blackmun both attended Van Buren School, 275 Maple St. on Dayton’s Bluff. Photo circa 1905. Photo: Minnesota Historical Society

Burger and Blackmun both attended the nearby (and magnificently designed) Van Buren School through eighth grade. They went in different directions for high school with Burger attending Johnson High on the East Side and Blackman choosing Mechanic Arts High in the shadow of the Minnesota Capitol.

John A. Johnson High School at 740 York Avenue
A postcard of John A. Johnson High School, 740 York Avenue, from 1920. Photo: Minnesota Historical Society
A postcard of Mechanic Arts High School, created in about 1915.
A postcard of Mechanic Arts High School, created in about 1915. Photo: Minnesota Historical Society

During the same oral history interview, Blackman said he selected Mechanic Arts because he thought it was the best high school in St. Paul. He also praised the mix of students there. “(It) brought in a large number of African-Americans because there was such an enclave on Rondo Street in St. Paul at the time, which was in that district, and they all came to Mechanic Arts. So we had a very diverse student population which was very good for me.”

The future Supreme Court justices remained close friends for decades, undeterred by distance, family or career obligations. In fact, Blackmun served as best man at Burger’s wedding.

Warren Burger didn’t go far for college, selecting the University of Minnesota and St. Paul College of Law (now Mitchell Hamline School of Law), respectively, for undergraduate work and law school. After graduating in 1931, he practiced law at a St. Paul firm until 1953, when he was named an assistant U.S. attorney general. Two years later, President Dwight D. Eisenhower nominated Burger to the U.S. Court of Appeals, where he served until President Richard Nixon tapped him for chief justice of the Supreme Court.

Harry Blackmun was also headed to the U of M until Harvard University offered him a scholarship. Blackmun got both his undergraduate and law degrees from there and returned to the Twin Cities to practice law and teach for the next 25 years. Blackmun joined Mayo Clinic as an attorney in 1950, where he stayed until he was appointed to the Eighth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals in 1959.

President Nixon — at Burger’s suggestion — also nominated Blackmun for the Supreme Court, in April 1970. Blackman was unanimously confirmed by the senate and sworn into office on June 9, 1970.

Official photograph of Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, U.S. Supreme Court.
Official photograph of Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, U.S. Supreme Court. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Official photograph of Justice Harry A. Blackmun, circa 1970. Wikipedia
Official photograph of Justice Harry A. Blackmun, circa 1970. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The most well-known cases that came before the Supreme Court during the tenure of the two justices from St. Paul was Roe v. Wade in 1973. Burger and Blackmun voted with the majority in the case (Blackmun wrote the majority opinion), which guaranteed women the right to have abortions during certain stages of pregnancy.

Other important rulings during their tenure included:

  • Miller v. California: In 1973, Burger wrote the majority opinion which said that obscene materials did not enjoy First Amendment protection, but modified the definition of obscenity to relate to community standards.
  • New York Times Co v. United States: In this 1971 case, commonly known as the Pentagon Papers Case, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the major tenet of the First Amendment, guaranteeing freedom of the press.
  • Lemon v. Kurtzman: The 1971 ruling basically stated that providing state funds to church schools violated the First Amendment.
  • United States v. Nixon: In another prominent case, this one related to Watergate, Burger wrote for a unanimous Court that ruled President Nixon couldn’t use the claim of executive privilege to prevent release of tape recordings made in the White House. Nixon resigned 16 days after the Court’s decision.

Two boys from Dayton’s Bluff who grew up to serve on our nation’s highest court and an East Side family that delights with their custom Scooby Doo van. Quite a contrast and an example of how different backgrounds, talents and experiences are woven into the unique fabric that is St. Paul.

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