Ramsey County History magazine offers a wide variety of articles on the people, places and history of Ramsey County.
Volume 46, Number 3: Fall 2011
Gone But Not Forgotten? The Survival of Outdoor Sculpture in St. Paul
Author: Moira F. Harris
Outdoor sculpture is challenged by vandalism, theft, climate extremes, urban redevelopment, pigeon droppings, neglect, and changes in taste. Although a sculpture seems more permanent than a mural, due to its size and weight, it can be just as ephemeral and easy to harm. As the 2008 Fall Report of Public Art St. Paul said: “Whether works were made of bronze and stone to speak of history, heritage and heroes; whether they were shaped in steel or wood in abstract expression of beauty; whether they comprise entire landscapes or structures for our exploration and discovery, public artworks speak to us of who we are. They deserve our care.” This article is a summary account of the current state of the outdoor sculpture in the city of St. Paul and what happened to some noted pieces that once graced this urban landscape. Today the City Council, the Board of Park Commissioners, a number of other governmental agencies, and certain nonprofit arts groups participate in deciding on and preserving the outdoor sculpture in the city.
PDF of Harris article
A Different Sesquicentennial: Remembering Fredrick McGhee
Author: Paul D. Nelson
On October 28, 2011, Nelson paused to reflect that Fredrick McGhee (1861–1912) was born on that date 150 years ago. Nelson remembered him that day because he admired the man so much, and because, as his biographer, he feels a personal connection to him. McGhee is remembered as a former slave who got a legal education in Chicago and came to St. Paul in the late 1880s, where he was the first black lawyer admitted to the bar in Minnesota. He practiced criminal law and became active in politics first as a Republican and then in 1893 he switched to the Democrats. A founder of the Niagara Movement in 1905, which was a forerunner of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, McGhee, according to Nelson, was “the greatest civil rights leader [Minnesota] has ever known.”
PDF of Nelson article
Growing Up in St. Paul: The West End Neighborhood of the Thirties and Forties
Author: Douglas R. Heidenreich
Somewhere, probably in a shoebox filled with curved, faded, brittle pictures shot about seventy years ago on a Kodak Brownie camera, Heidenreich has a short letter from Gerhard Bundlie, a lawyer who was the mayor of St. Paul in the early nineteen thirties. The letter, on official mayor’s-office stationary, congratulates the author’s parents on the birth of a son (Douglas) who had been born on February 29, 1932. This is a charming account of what life and growing up were like in St. Paul’s West End in the 1930s. Heidenreich carries his account forward to 1945 when soldiers, including his older brother began to return home from service in World War II.
PDF of Heidenreich article
Living la Vida en Ramsey County: A Journey through Ramsey County’s Mexican Past
Author: Leila Renee Albert
In September 2011, the Ramsey County Historical Society opened an exhibit in its gallery space in the Landmark Center focused on Ramsey County’s Mexican past titled Living la Vida en Ramsey County. The curator of the exhibit is Leila Renee Albert with assistance from Jose Anaya and Mollie Spillman, Ramsey County Historical Society curator-archivist. In addition to the various exhibits, the gallery includes a map of St. Paul’s West Side that highlights a walking tour of the District del Sol and its colorful and varied works of art that express the neighborhood’s Mexican culture and heritage. The article includes a brief overview of the history of the settlement of people from Mexico in the area and how they recreated a familiar community in St. Paul’s West Side. Today the Mexican-American community is proud of its accomplishments and heritage.
PDF of Albert article
Jeanne Reeves Newhall Shepard, A Long View into the Past (Bloomington, Ind.: Sybil S. Eakin, 2010).
Larry Millett, Once There Were Castles: Lost Mansions and Estates of the Twin Cities (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011).