Moo and Brew

July 19, 2013

10.03 miles

Macalester-Groveland, West End a.k.a. West Seventh

Rosie the Holstein in front of the Quirk-Becker home.

Rosie the Holstein in front of the Quirk-Becker home.

You may have seen cow that “lives” at the house on the corner of Randolph and Warwick Street on the very southern border of Mac-Groveland. Rosie the cow doesn’t really live there, but she’s a fixture in the front yard of 478 Warwick.

Rosie and her owner, Pam Becker.

Rosie and her owner, Pam Becker.

Pam Becker is the proud owner of Rosie the Holstein, which she was given at her 50th birthday party from her best friend. Pam told me the story this way, “She rented a U-Haul and drove down to Wisconsin. She’s never driven a trailer; had to drive forward all the time ‘cause it’s hard to back up a trailer. And then she got a hold of my husband and they snuck it in the backyard before the party.”

Pam’s enthusiasm for and humor about her cow were unmistakable as she explained she couldn’t have gotten a better birthday gift, “I was thrilled, absolutely thrilled because I love cows. I grew up in Wisconsin and in particular, I love Holsteins. It was the perfect present for me!”

“I always wanted it (the cow) in the front yard but my husband was a little concerned that somebody might take it and put it on the pitcher’s mound at Cretin.”

Rosie the Holstein decorated for Independence Day.

Rosie the Holstein decorated for Independence Day.

Pam decorates Rosie in recognition of major holidays and events. On July 19th, the cow was still showing the red, white and blue of Independence Day.

“It’s not an easy thing to decorate. That sounds goofy but it’s an awkward size and you would think ‘cause it was metal, you know it’s an old oil drum,  you would think you could use magnets to hold things on but it doesn’t work. “

Pam mentioned that she works so she doesn’t have the free time to be more creative with decorating Rosie.

Pam teaches preschool-age children at a nearby school. “As soon as the kids find out that that’s my house with the cow, they’re like, ‘That’s the cow house! My teacher has the cow house!’ But then there’s all this pressure like if I haven’t decorated the cow for a while they go, ‘Teacher Pam, your cow is naked.’”

A profile shot of Rosie.

A profile shot of Rosie.

Adults, said Pam, are also drawn to the cow. People leave complementary notes in Pam’s mailbox and folks frequently stop by to get their picture taken.

One of Pam’s final thoughts related to the deteriorating condition of her Holstein and her plan to get her husband to repaint Rosie.

cow 5

A nip here and tuck there and Rosie looks like a new Holstein. Photo courtesy Pam Becker

Epilogue: Pam emailed me almost exactly a month after we met. Her email included a picture of a rejuvenated Rosie and a brief note, “I wanted you to know that Rosie, the cow, has successfully been refurbished!  She has a new neck, (the old bucket was very rusty), a beautiful tail and a new paint job!  Looks more like a real Holstein to me!  She is also sporting a 1st place purple ribbon commemorating the Sate Fair.  I can hardly wait to go to the cow barn there!”

Next stop, about two miles east to the West End, where I found nautical yard ornamentation.

A lighthouse (yes it works!)...

A lighthouse (yes it lights!)…

...and an old salt welcome weary travelers to 887 Palace.

…and an old salt welcome weary travelers to 887 Palace.

Construction equipment to convert the old Schmidt Brewery into the Schmidt Artists Lofts.

Construction equipment to convert the old Schmidt Brewery into the Schmidt Artists Lofts.

Barbed wire keeps out the curious and those considering more nefarious actions at the former Schmidt/Minnesota Brewery. Construction equipment in the background is involved in the $120 million transformation of the castle-like brewery and some surrounding buildings into the Schmidt Artists Lofts. schmidt 2The project, developed by Dominium of Plymouth, MN, will result in about 247 “affordable” apartments with many amenities for artists. Most importantly, the Schmidt Artist Lofts protects a landmark (no pun intended) that predates much of the neighborhood.

The Schmidt Brewery circa 1905. Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society.

The Schmidt Brewery circa 1905. Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

A brewery has occupied 882 West Seventh Street nearly continuously since 1855 when Christopher Stahlmann opened his Cave Brewery (later renamed the Christopher Stahlmann Brewing Company.) Succeeding owners of the brewery, in order, were St. Paul Brewing, North Star, Jacob Schmidt, Pfeiffer Brewing, Associated Brewing, G. Heileman and finally, Minnesota Brewing which ceased beer production in 2002. Two years later, Gopher State Ethanol shut down, ending four years of assaults on neighbors noses and ears. Hundreds of beer brands have flowed from the brew tanks over nearly 150 years including the well-recognized Schmidt, Pig’s Eye, Grain Belt, Blatz and Old Style to lesser known ales like City Club, Malta, Landmark and Pete’s Wicked Ale.

The bottling line at the Schmidt Brewery. Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

The bottling line at the Schmidt Brewery. Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

Another prominent old Saint Paul name connected to the brewery is Bremer. Adolph Bremer married Jacob Schmidt’s daughter Marie and lead the brewery after Jacob’s death in 1911. Adolph’s brother, Otto, was also employed at Schmidt and he ascended to the top spot when Adolph passed in 1939. (The Bremers also started the still operating Bremer Bank.)

(The full story of the brewery is far too detailed to get into in this blog and others have done excellent pieces about it. Two I recommend are Greg A. Brick’s Stahlmann’s Cellars: The Cave Under the Castle and “Beer Capital of the State: St. Paul’s Historic Family Breweries” by Gary J. Brueggeman.)

Not all of the Schmidt Artists Lofts housing is renovation. Here are a couple of the 12 new townhouses being built on the east edge of the brewery property.

Not all the Schmidt Artists Lofts housing is renovation. Here are a couple of the 12 or 13 new townhouses under construction on the east edge of the brewery property.

The peeling and fading Grain Belt Beer bottle is on the corner of West Seventh and Jefferson.

The peeling and fading Grain Belt Beer bottle is on the corner of West Seventh and Jefferson behind the bus shelter.

I'd be one of many who'd love it if the bottle was rehabbed as part of the Schmidt Artists Lofts project.

I’d be one of many who’d love it if the bottle was rehabbed as part of the Schmidt Artists Lofts project.

The old company seal above the former Rathskeller.

Schmidt’s company seal above the former Rathskeller.

The bottling house and Rathskeller (above) are not part of the Schmidt Artists Lofts renovations. There is talk of converting the two buildings into a restaurant, microbrewery and brewery museum.

The Rathskeller (above) is not part of the Schmidt Artists Lofts renovations. The West Seventh/Fort Road Federation owns it and hopes to open an events center there.

The interior of the Rathskeller during the heyday of the brewery. Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society

The interior of the Rathskeller during the heyday of the brewery. Courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society

Favored for its purity, spring water from the Mount Simon Aquifer was used for brewing at Schmidt. The water was free to all for years until the taps were shut off when G. Heileman’s closed the brewery.

Favored for its purity, spring water from the Mount Simon Aquifer was used for brewing at Schmidt. The water was free to all for years until the taps were shut off when G. Heileman’s closed the brewery.

The spring water began flowing again a couple of years ago but is no longer free-it now costs 75 cents per gallon.

The spring water began flowing again a couple of years ago but is no longer free-it now costs 75 cents per gallon.

Work o’ plenty goes on in the bottling house in which about 250 lofts are being built.

Work o’ plenty goes on in the brew house in which many of the 250 lofts are being built.

Years of smoke pouring from the smokestack as brews like Schmidt, Old Style and Pig's Eye have dulled the “S” and “C”.

Years of smoke pouring from the smokestack in the production of brews like Schmidt, Old Style and Pig’s Eye have dulled the “S” and “C”.

schmidt 6The metal structure at the top of the photo once held the iconic Schmidt wordmark which was visible for miles (see image below) and more recently, the Landmark sign. There are reports that a new Schmidt sign will once again serve as a beacon for the reincarnated former brewery.

old schmidt 5

Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

Murals decorate two sides of this building. The Schmidt sign was recently uncovered during renovations.

Murals decorate two sides of this building. The Schmidt sign was recently uncovered during renovations.

Murals on the western wall of this former brewery building depict Mississippi River history.

Meanwhile, newer paintings on the western wall depict Mississippi River history.

The bottle house apartments are scheduled to open in December and the brew house are expected to be ready for occupancy in Spring. More details about the Schmidt Artist Lofts and floor plans are available at http://www.schmidtartistlofts.com/

One of the best sights on a summer evening is the ice cream truck!

One of the best sights on a summer evening is the ice cream truck!

Click on the link below for a map of this route: http://www.mapmyride.com/us/mendota-heights-mn/route-from-file-2013-07-19-23-26-41-00-0-route-260587493

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