Ramsey County History magazine offers a wide variety of articles on the people, places and history of Ramsey County.
Volume 47, Number 4: Winter 2013
Preserving a “Fine Residential District:” The Merriam Park Freeway Fight
Authors: Tom O’Connell and Tom Beer
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, planning for the construction of the vast interstate highway system across the United States included an exit from Interstate 94 at Prior Avenue in St. Paul along the projected route connecting downtown St. Paul with the center of Minneapolis. Residents of St. Paul’s Merriam Park neighborhood formed a lasting community organization, the Merriam Park Residential Association, led by J. Douglas Kelm and Fr. Francis J. Gilligan, to fight the construction of this particular exit. This article analyzes the position of the Minnesota Department of Highways, represented by Deputy Commissioner Frank Marzitelli, and various local groups who wanted the exit built along with the arguments from the anti-exit supporters. It then explains how in 1961–1962 Merriam Park residents successfully fought the construction of the exit by enlisting the help of Archbishop William Brady and several well-connected political leaders, who negotiated a settlement of the dispute. This was one of the few times that a local community group was able to materially alter federal highway plans in a significant way.
PDF of O’Connell & Beer article
Helping the Sun Shine Brighter for Farmers: Robert Freeman on Mount Ramsey
Author: Harlan Stoehr
2013 marks the centennial of extension work in Ramsey County, beginning with Harry G. Krum’s appointment as county agricultural agent. At the time of Krum’s hiring, Ramsey County was home to over a thousand farms and it became the eleventh county in Minnesota to employ such an agent. Robert Freeman, who was first employed as the County’s agricultural agent in 1920, stayed in the job for the next 30 years. Thus he experienced the agricultural slump of the 1920s, the Great Depression, World War II, and the transition of Ramsey County’s rural spaces into suburbanization. Freeman left behind when he moved on to a new job first-hand accounts of his work and of the times in his pithy annual reports. Author Stoehr has mined these reports and provided a comprehensive look at the variety of issues and problems Freeman dealt with over the course of his long tenure.
PDF of Stoehr article
“Cold Blooded Fraud:” The White Bear Lake Sewer Project of 1926–1935
Author: James Lindner
In the mid-1920s, the city of White Bear Lake occupied a relatively remote portion of Ramsey and Washington counties in Minnesota, but its population was growing and city leaders decided that they needed to replace outmoded septic systems with a municipal sewer system. In the process of making these improvements to its infrastructure, the city learned that in addition to the tax money needed to pay for this project, it also needed professional engineers to plan and oversee the work and a competent contractor to install the system properly and make sure it functioned as planned. Construction of the sewer system began in 1926, but it was not completed until 1929 and litigation over the problems and shortcomings of the project lasted until 1935.
PDF of Lindner article