Schools and Ghouls

September 30, 2012

7 miles

Drake 1

Drake Arena at St. Paul Academy

The main entrance to Drake Arena at St. Paul Academy) Drake Arena, St. Paul Academy’s hockey venue, was the first stop on a rare Sunday morning ride. The arena, built in 1967, sits at the intersection of Juno Avenue and Wheeler Street on the very northern edge of Highland Park.

A side view of Drake Arena

A side view of Drake Arena

Sometime back 10 or 15 years ago, the Ramsey County Elections Office imprudently chose Drake Arena as a polling place. Being a hockey arena, the temp was below 32 obviously, so it was uncomfortably chilly for me and other voters, but literally painful for the election judges who were stuck there for about 14 hours. If the cold wasn’t enough, SPA’s hockey team was practicing so judges and voters were subjected to a couple of hours of the pucks slamming off the plexiglass boards. While I waited to vote, people delivered blankets to help the judges stay warm but there was nothing anyone could do to silence the bang, bang, bang of the pucks. Ramsey County officials must have been inundated with complaints because that was the last time Drake Arena was used as a polling place.

Emptying lots

A new hockey arena will likely be built here after the houses in the background are purchased and moved.

Drake Arena’s days are likely numbered as SPA has begun purchasing properties along the block directly west of Wheeler for campus expansion which is expected to include a new hockey facility.

SPA and Summit School as seen from Randolph Avdenue

SPA and Summit School as seen from Randolph Avenue

SPA’s academic building stretches eastward from Drake Arena for a block. The two-story brick structure was built in the 1910s and is the original SPA building.

When St. Paul Academy opened this was the main entrance.

When St. Paul Academy opened, this was the main entrance.

Today the modern glass and brick building is the where students enter SPA. The back of the 1910s building is on the right.

Today the modern glass and brick building is the where students enter SPA. The back of the 1910s building is on the right.

Mattocks Park from the corner of Palace and Davern

Mattocks Park from the corner of Palace and Davern

Mattock’s Park occupies the block bounded by Palace Avenue on the north, James Avenue to the south and Macalester and Davern Streets to the east and west respectively. According to the Minnesota Historical Society, Mattocks School, was on this site in 1924. Six-hundred students in Kindergarten through Grade Six attended Mattocks, which closed in 1979.

Arbor Day 1937 and children are planting a tree at Mattocks School.

The Minnesota Historical Society caption says “Children planting tree at Mattocks School, St. Paul, as part of Arbor Day celebration.” A more accurate description is they’re watching others plant a tree. Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society.

While the school bearing its name is long gone, Mattocks Park remains a very popular with young children and their parents.

While the school bearing its name is long gone, Mattocks Park remains a very popular with young children and their parents.

I believe one of the Mighty Ducks movies used Mattocks Park as a shoot location although I wasn’t able to find evidence of that.

Groveland 1

Groveland Park Recreation Center, on the right behind the golden-leafed tree and Groveland Park Elementary is the three-story brick building on the left.

After visiting a private school and the site of a long-gone school, fairness dictated a stop at a public school. OK, that’s not why I stopped at the Groveland Park Elementary School and Recreation Center complex, which occupies a full two blocks on the north side of St. Clair Avenue between Cleveland and Prior Avenues. There is severe architectural discord  between the stately and stylish school, built in 1921, and the late 1970s Rec Center facility, although the pictures don’t convey it very well.

The playground, tennis courts and warming house (far right) are all popular facilities at Groveland Park Rec Center. 0856 Softball and soccer fields during warm months, this area is transformed into three lighted ice rinks during the winter.

The playground, tennis courts and warming house (far right) are all popular facilities at Groveland Park Rec Center.

Softball and soccer fields during warm months, this area is transformed into three lighted ice rinks during the winter.

Softball and soccer fields during warm months, this area is transformed into three lighted ice rinks during the winter.

groveland 4

The main entrance to Groveland Park Elementary School

(Click on any image above to read the caption or enlarge the picture.)

Being a Sunday morning, the streets were quiet but when I got to Woodlawn Avenue, I found the Anderson family with giant skulls and orange lights in hand. Dad Chad Anderson said Halloween is a big deal for the family. “This is a good block for kids and we get a lot of visitors. The kids are five and seven and it’s good ages for that.”

Ava Anderson, 5, and brother Max, 7, hold some serious Halloween decorations. Max told me he was growling like a zombie.

Ava Anderson, 5, and brother Max, 7, hold some serious Halloween decorations. Max told me he was growling like a zombie. Father Chad is helping with the decorations.

One of the neighbors hosts a bonfire the Friday before Halloween, according to Chad, and there is also a horse-drawn hayride. Max and Ava wanted to set up the giant skulls but needed Chad’s help, which was my cue to leave.

The election was only five weeks off and lawn signs were more prevalent than Halloween decorations. Just in today’s seven mile ride in one area I noted signs reflecting nearly every conceivable issue and candidate.

(Click on any image above to enlarge the pictures.)

The spring and summer of 2012 were very warm and dry and no where is it more apparent than here at the corner of Goodrich Avenue and Kenneth Street. Recently laid sod along the boulevard is green from frequent watering while unwatered grass in the rest of the yard is either dead or dormant.

brown and green grassHere is the link to the map of today’s ride: http://www.mapmyride.com/routes/view/180497984

I didn’t know it at the time but this Mac-Groveland/Highland trip was the last of 2012. Not long after, I took my bike to my usual “spa” (bike shop) for a rejuvenating tune-up and repairs. Then I moved it into the house, down to the basement and on the rack I use for indoor riding. The time will pass slowly as I bike in the basement but one day, the snow will be gone and the streets cleaned of winter grit and my bike and I will pop out of the basement for another year’s worth of Saint Paul sites and people. Until then…thanks for reading!

2 thoughts on “Schools and Ghouls

  1. There was a movie scene filmed in Mattocks, I was living there when it happened. However, I don’t believe it was Mighty Ducks. I think it was football themed (the movie). I remember the movie required filling the neighborhood with cars from the 60s, and there was a mud wrestling scene in the field area. That was a big fiasco, because the grass was ruined after and all the movie people did was throw down seed, which never took, so the field was mud for several years after… Despite them promising in advance that we were to have been given sod.

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    • Natalie, thank you for your insight regarding the Mattocks Park shoot! Great story but it’s unfortunate the movie’s production team didn’t restore the park to its pre-shoot conditions.

      If you confirm what movie was shot at Matticks, please let me know.

      Best, Wolfie

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