August 13, 2014
St. Anthony Park, Merriam Park, Mac-Groveland
An evening ride to St. Anthony Park, the northwest corner of the City. Like scores of Saint Paul neighborhoods, the residential streets in St. Anthony Park are edged with towering oak, maple, elm and pine trees. It is on these thoroughfares that I did most of my biking, but first I had to get past the busy intersection of Raymond Avenue and Energy Park Drive. Usually I blow past this area as quickly (legally of course) as I can for reasons of self-preservation. Tonight, however, I paused for a vibrant bike billboard on the boulevard.
Turns out, three St. Anthony Park establishments were publicized on the bike. The first, the Tibetan American Foundation of Minnesota, was created in 1992 to help Tibetan immigrants from Nepal and India settle here. About 160 Tibetans came to Minnesota. Now, some 3,000 Tibetan immigrants live in Minnesota, mostly in Saint Paul and Minneapolis, the second largest settlement in the U.S.(1)
In St. Anthony Park, Hoyt Avenue is the border of Saint Paul and its northern neighbor of Falcon Heights.
It’s unexpected to see a college tucked in St. Anthony Park, but Luther Seminary has been a presence here since 1917. It’s roots, however, go back to the United Church Seminary, which occupied the property even earlier.(2)
Three seminaries merged in 1917 to create Luther Seminary. The Norwegian Synod operated the original Luther Seminary elsewhere in Saint Paul; the Hauge Synod operated Red Wing Seminary in Red Wing; and the United Norwegian Lutheran Church operated the United Church Seminary on a portion of the present site of Luther Seminary.(3) Luther occupies roughly a diamond-shaped parcel bounded by Como Avenue, Fulham Street, Hendon Avenue, Branston Street and Luther Place in the north central part of St. Anthony.
Luther enrolls nearly 700 mostly post-graduate students. The school has adds an international element to Saint Anthony Park with approximately 60 students from 23 countries enrolled. I skirted the Seminary on this ride, missing the bulk of the campus and some historic buildings so I’ll make a return visit when I get back to the area. (3)
Less than a block east of the Luther campus is another school, Murray Middle School. Built in 1925, students in kindergarten through third grade and seventh through ninth moved into the 13 classrooms. Growing student enrollment and the need for modern facilities led to additions in 1930, 1939, 1963 (the Baby Boomers), 1977 and most recently, 1999. The 1925 building is another one of architect Cap Wigington’s designs. (5)
So, here I was, looking at the west wing of Murray, when I heard an unusual bird call that sounded like a turkey. I hurriedly got on my bike and rode west on Buford to Grantham Avenue, where I saw I was wrong. Strutting across some front lawns along Grantham Avenue was not one but a rafter of turkeys-a large tom and five hens following.
The turkeys grew tired of me following and dipped into some bushes so I returned to my explorations of Murray Middle School where I spent some quality time with the original main entrance.
I took my time riding around the entire school, exploring many alcoves along the way.
There was a major renovation going in part of the auditorium wing. With just three weeks until the first day of the school year, it appeared from the outside of Murray that a lot of construction remained.
College Park seemed to pop up in the middle of the neighborhood. It’s almost exclusively single family homes as I rode south on Grantham to Doswell, and east for a block. In the next block homes line the north side of Doswell but across the street is where I saw the very pleasant College Park.
College Park has been a favorite for generations and three memorials in the park reflect that.(6) The Samuel B. Green and LeRoy Cady memorials sit amongst the trees, just west of the tennis courts and playground, while that of Gilbert Gutterson lies very close to the western edge of the park. It’s curious because all three memorials were dedicated on May 11, 1924. That dedication was described in a 1924 edition of Minnesota History Magazine, “In memory of three former presidents of the St. Anthony Park Improvement Association, Professors Samuel B. Green and Le Roy Cady of the University of Minnesota college of agriculture and Gilbert Gutterson, three granite boulders were unveiled with appropriate ceremonies at College Park in the St. Paul suburb on May 11.”
Perhaps you noticed the mention of College Park being part of a Saint Paul suburb in the 1924 Minnesota History Magazine quoted above. That’s because, at that time, St. Anthony Park was far away from the heart of Saint Paul’s residents. Railroads served the area, leading to the moniker “railroad suburb.” The railroads made it possible for St. Anthony Park residents to commute to and from Downtown Saint Paul or Minneapolis. (7)
An odd object I almost literally stumbled upon was a well put in by the State Health Department. According to the “Well and Boring Record,” (it’s really called that!) I uncovered online, the Health Department installed the well in 2011 to monitor the depth of groundwater in the park’s open space.
In mid-August, sunset arrives before 8:30 and darkness soon after. The receding daylight forced me to wrap up the tour of St. Anthony Park for this evening. With dozens of streets not yet ridden, it’s guaranteed I’ll be back. To see details of this ride, click on the link: http://www.mapmyride.com/workout/897335651
1. History of Luther Seminary, Luther Seminary website, http://www.luthersem.edu/about/history.aspx?m=3381
4. From the Past to the Present-An Inventory of Saint Paul Public School Facilities, Jene T. Sigvertsen, 2000
6. Minnesota History Magazine Review of Books 1924, page 527 Local History Items
7. Ramsey County Historical Society website, http://www.rchs.com/neighborhoods/saint_anthony.htm