September 30, 2012
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.
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.
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’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.
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.
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.
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.
(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.”
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.
Here 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!