Ramsey County History magazine offers a wide variety of articles on the people, places and history of Ramsey County.
Volume 47, Number 1: Spring 2012
St. Paul’s Beaux-Arts Libraries: Philanthropic Architecture in a Local Context
Author: Lauren M. Freese
In 1917 Saint Paul City Architect Charles Hausler designed three libraries in St. Paul. They are the St. Anthony Park Free Public Library; the Riverview Free Public Library (West Side); and the Arlington Hills Free Public Library (Payne/Phalen). The Carnegie Corporation supplied the money for the construction of these libraries; hence they are known as “Carnegie libraries.” Hausler designed all of them in the same Beaux-Arts style and each was built by the same construction company working with nearly identical architectural plans. All three had the same budget. Despite their shared origin, the façades of all three are different in subtle, but important, ways. Freese analyzes the plans, budgets, and the façades of the libraries to explain the why they differ. Her conclusion is that popular beliefs and perceptions of immigrant groups in these neighborhoods and the socioeconomic variations among them manifested themselves in the architectural differences in the libraries’ façades and decorative programs.
PDF of Freese article
Who Built the Minnesota Capitol? John Rachač, Master Carpenter
Author: John Sielaff
The Minnesota State Capitol was constructed in St. Paul between 1895 and 1905. Because of the importance of this building to Minnesota history, considerable information exists about the competition to select an architect (the prominent Cass Gilbert was the winner), the cost of the building, and the methods used to build and furnish it. Surprisingly little is known, however, about the workers who built this magnificent building. This article is a biographical profile of one of those workers, the master carpenter John Rachač (1848–1936). He was an immigrant from Bohemia, who settled in the Czech community in the city in 1873, where he worked on jobs small and big, including the mansion that James J. Hill built on Summit Avenue and the nearby Minnesota Capitol.
PDF of Sielaff article
Community Health with a Heart: The History of Open Cities Health Center
Author: Katie Jaeger
The Open Cities Health Center (OCHC) in St. Paul got its start in 1967 when a group of the city’s residents opened one of Minnesota’s first medical clinics dedicated to helping people of color. Initial funding for the clinic came from the City of Saint Paul and Ramsey Action Programs and the health center was located in the heart of the Summit-University neighborhood (the old Rondo neighborhood). A federal program of that time, the Model Cities Program, supplied much of the money that supported the clinic by funneling it to the City of Saint Paul. The first leaders of Health Center were not only African American, they were also women. Mary L. Stokes Clark is generally credited with being one of the clinic’s founders and the first project coordinator at the clinic. She was succeeded as director in 1971 by Mrs. Timothy O. Vann, who served in that capacity until 1983, a period of considerable growth in the numbers of clients served and the range of services the clinic offered. The OCHC moved several times in its first thirty years, but then settled into a newly constructed building in 1986. Its service area today encompasses Ramsey, Hennepin, Washington, and Dakota counties. As was the case at its founding, OCHC sees every patient who comes through its doors regardless of their ability to pay.
PDF of Jaeger article
“As if in a Law Office in Illinois:” An Interview with President Lincoln
Author: John B. Sanborn
This short article is an excerpt from John B. Sanborn’s 1887 autobiographical address titled “Reminiscences of the Campaigns Against Vicksburg.” Sanborn served as a colonel in the Union Army in the Civil War, especially in the campaigns to win control of the Mississippi River in the vicinity of the Confederate stronghold of Vicksburg. General Ulysses S. Grant had recommended Sanborn for promotion to brigadier general, but the promotion was delayed for unknown reasons. Sanborn decided to resign from the army in August 1863 because of the delay and to go to Washington and present the case for his promotion directly to President Lincoln. The excerpt printed here recounts Sanborn’s brief meeting with Lincoln where Sanborn gave General Grant’s letter supporting his promotion to the president, who subsequently intervened on behalf of Sanborn.
PDF of Sanborn article