Now in the tunnel and looking east, at Lake Phalen. The beach is far off in the distance.

The Northeast Corner

Highland Park, Mac-Groveland, Merriam Park, Lexington-Hamline, Frogtown (Thomas-Dale), North End, Payne-Phalen, East Side

July 30, 2017

31.7 Miles

This ride turned out to be one of the longest ever for the blog, passing through eight of Saint Paul’s 17 District Councils areas and many more neighborhoods. It was also my second and last ride of 2017. News reports of the impending shuttering of the Hillcrest Golf Club spurred this ride. I wanted to see this historic golf course before it closed for good on October 31, 2017.

Lex-Ham (a.k.a. Union Park)

The sidewalk mural along Concordia Avenue leading to the Aldine Bridge over I-94.
The sidewalk mural along Concordia Avenue leading to the Aldine Bridge over I-94.

The sidewalk approaching the Aldine pedestrian and bike bridge over I-94 and the surface of bridge became a painters canvas a few weeks before this ride. According to mnartists.org, artist Emily Hoisington and the Union Park District Council worked together with volunteers to create and paint the mural. It’s a nice break from the standard concrete ribbon that is most sidewalks.

The mural continued on the Aldine Bridge deck. On her artist page, Hoisington described the mural design coming from “drawing continuous lines, outlining and connecting shapes and textures visible from the bridge…”
The mural continued on the Aldine Bridge deck. On her artist page, Hoisington described the mural design coming from “drawing continuous lines, outlining and connecting shapes and textures visible from the bridge…”
1033 Thomas Avenue West.
1033 Thomas Avenue West.

Frogtown (Thomas-Dale)

Thomas Avenue provided several engaging stops. The brick building at 1033 Thomas, at Oxford, has held at least four unique types of businesses since it was built in 1911. In 2016 Rift Valley Transportation provided vans for student transportation from here. Rift Valley’s website tells a nice story of Ebisso Uka, an Ethiopian immigrant who started the company in 2005 with him as the only driver of its one van. Rift Valley has grown more than 80 vans and 100 drivers.

Universal Signs had the building prior to Rift Valley. In the late 50s, Christensen Electric was headquartered at 1033 Thomas. The best use was what it was originally built for – a creamery.

(1772 No, I didn’t stop for a libation, only a photo.
No, I didn’t stop for a libation, only a photo.

A block to the east at Victoria and Thomas is Billy’s Victorian, a small neighborhood bar, or tavern, as it would be called in my native Milwaukee. “The Vic” has been a bar since the mid-1930s, according to its website, which claims the building at 859 Victoria was a grocery store prior to becoming a public house.

Ryan Park opened in the early to mid 1980s. From 1895 until 1974 this slice of Frogtown land held Benjamin Drew Elementary School.
Ryan Park opened in the early to mid 1980s. From 1895 until 1974 this slice of Frogtown land held Benjamin Drew Elementary School.

Neighborhood folks have enjoyed a park at Thomas Avenue and Avon Street since about 1983. The name was changed to Ryan Park to honor Dennis Patrick Ryan, an area businessman who was shot and killed during a robbery of his plumbing store at 811 University Avenue in 1984, according to Historic Saint Paul’s Tour Saint Paul Frogtown.

Benjamin Drew Elementary, an eight-room school, was built on the site in 1895 for 320 students. The school was named for the man who was the first Superintendent of Ramsey County Public Schools and the first principal of the St. Paul Public Schools.

Features of the new Benjamin Drew School were proudly trumpeted in the February 16, 1896 St. Paul Globe newspaper.
Features of the new Benjamin Drew School were proudly trumpeted in the February 16, 1896 St. Paul Globe newspaper.

The impressively styled three story schoolhouse was designed by local architect Clarence H. Johnson. As enrollment grew, it was enlarged twice. Although the City condemned Drew Elementary in 1972, it remained open for two more years.

Benjamin Drew School, Lafond and Avon, circa 1900. Photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society
Benjamin Drew School, Lafond and Avon, circa 1900. Photo courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

The City of Saint Paul purchased the property in 1977 planning to build single family homes. However, strong outcry from neighborhood residents forced the City to abandon that plan. The property remained vacant until the 1983 conversion to a park.

Willard's Liquors at 738 Thomas Avenue.
Willard’s Liquors at 738 Thomas Avenue.

Another bar, Willard’s Liquors, is a block east of Ryan Park at 738 Thomas (at Grotto Street.) Willard’s is, according to Saint Paul Historical, the second oldest bar in Saint Paul. I was unable to confirm that but I did glean that a William A. Kohls was the owner of a restaurant and bar at 738 Thomas in 1918.

The peace mural on the back of Willard's Liquors.
The peace mural on the back of Willard’s Liquors.

Notable is the mural painted on the east side of Willard’s where a dozen people in silhouette are reaching skyward.

Looking closely at the mural, dozens of English and Spanish words symbolic of hopes, dreams and struggles revealed themselves.
Looking closely at the mural, dozens of English and Spanish words symbolic of hopes, dreams and struggles revealed themselves.
The final stop on the Thomas Avenue leg of my ride was at the Church of Saint Agnes, which is on the National Historic Register.
The final stop on the Thomas Avenue leg of my ride was at the Church of Saint Agnes, which is on the National Historic Register.

The final Thomas Avenue stop was at the historic Church of Saint Agnes, with its 205 foot bell tower that has watched over Frogtown since church construction was completed in 1912. After seeing Saint Agnes up close for the first time, I am convinced this is one of the two or three prettiest churches in Saint Paul. 

The bell tower, on the southwest corner of the church building at Thomas and Kent Street, is really the back of the church.
The bell tower, on the southwest corner of the church building at Thomas and Kent Street, is really the back of the church.
The 205 foot tall bell tower in the middle of the photo was far too tall to get in one picture with the lenses I had. (That won't be a problem next time I visit because I purchased a wide angle lens.)
The 205 foot tall bell tower in the middle of the photo was far too tall to get in one picture with the lenses I had. (That won’t be a problem next time I visit because I since purchased a wide angle lens.)
The four bells in the tower, named John, Saint Agnes, Anthony and Richard, are regularly rung.
The four bells in the tower, named John, Saint Agnes, Anthony and Richard, are regularly rung.
A four-sided clock sits above the bells. Notice that the two clocks each display a different time. (Neither was correct.)
A four-sided clock sits above the bells. Notice that the two clocks each display a different time. (Neither was correct.)
The gold cross at the top of the bell tower shimmered in the midday sun.
The gold cross at the top of the bell tower shimmered in the midday sun.
The sun created a drop shadow on the side of the church.
The sun created a drop shadow on the church name plate.
The bell tower and part of the sanctuary structure as seen from Thomas Avenue, just east of the church.
The bell tower and part of the sanctuary structure as seen from Thomas Avenue, just east of the church.
The east side of the church.
The east side of the church.
The pride parishioners have in Saint Agnes is reflected in many ways. This garden next to the chapel on the east side of the church is well cared for.
The pride parishioners have in Saint Agnes is reflected in many ways. This garden next to the chapel on the east side of the church is well cared for.
A larger garden, also along the east side of the church.
A larger garden, also along the east side of the church.

A priest noticed me taking pictures of the exterior. Unexpectedly, he invited into the chapel to get some interior shots between services.

The stunning interior of the Maria Hilf Chapel. The photo was taken from just inside the entrance.
The stunning interior of the Maria Hilf Chapel. The photo was taken from just inside the entrance.
The dome of the chapel is 60 feet above the floor. The exquisitely painted mural, according to the St. Agnes website, portrays Christ crowning Agnes of Rome as a saint. Angels and saints of Rome surround St. Agnes.
The dome of the chapel is 60 feet above the floor. The exquisitely painted mural, according to the St. Agnes website, portrays Christ crowning Agnes of Rome as a saint. Angels and saints of Rome surround St. Agnes.
The Maria Hilf chapel as seen from the balcony. The marble alter was also a 1930 addition. The brass chandeliers came from the old State Capitol on Wabasha and Exchange Streets. They were installed in 1915.
The Maria Hilf chapel as seen from the balcony. The marble alter was also a 1930 addition. The brass chandeliers came from the old State Capitol on Wabasha and Exchange Streets. They were installed in 1915.
The detail on the scrolls that decorate Mexican onyx pillars in the chapel.
The detail on the scrolls that decorate Mexican onyx pillars in the chapel.
The main entrance to the Church of St. Agnes on LaFond Avenue, just east of Kent Street.
The main entrance to the Church of St. Agnes on LaFond Avenue, just east of Kent Street.
Another view of the Lafond entrance.
Another view of the Lafond entrance.
The cornerstone with the 1919 date St. Agnes opened.
The cornerstone with the 1919 date St. Agnes opened.

Whether history, architecture, photography or religion are your interest, St. Agnes is an essential stop. It is a place I plan to visit again, hopefully coupled with a tour of the landmark, for another blog post.

After more than 50 minutes there, I pedaled east along Thomas Avenue another two blocks before hanging a left to go north on Western Avenue.

This discarded car bumper leaning on the No Trespassing sign struck me as funny.
This discarded car bumper leaning on the No Trespassing sign struck me as funny.

The North End

Continuing north on Western into the North End, I went east on Jessamine Avenue West for three blocks and paused at Matilda Street.

Behind 1097 Matilda, the garage was a blend of styles and colors.
Behind 1097 Matilda, the garage was a blend of styles and colors.

I continued along Jessamine for about a mile, until it came to a dead end. Between the shine on the silver barrier and the fresh white curb, it was evident that this was a relatively recent change to Jessamine Street.

The barrier preventing motorized vehicles from continuing east. Beyond were remnants of pavement from when the road continued beyond the barrier.
The barrier preventing motorized vehicles from continuing east. Beyond were remnants of pavement from when the road continued beyond the barrier.

I hopped over the metal barrier to see what lay beyond the trees. About 30 yards farther I came to a bluff, overlooking a bike path on the edge of a meadow.

What could be the remains of the asphalt approach to the Jessamine Street Bridge continues to disintegrate.
What could be the remains of the asphalt approach to the Jessamine Street Bridge continues to disintegrate.
The the Jessamine Street Bridge carried vehicles over the valley and railroad tracks. This picture is from about 1906. Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society
The the Jessamine Street Bridge carried vehicles over the Trout Brook valley and railroad tracks. This picture, taken from the east side of the valley looking west, is from about 1906. Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society
The meadow is part of Trout Brook (previously Trillium) Nature Sanctuary. The paved path is the Trout Brook Regional Trail and the taller reeds behind it hide the Trout Brook. Farther back are railroad tracks that have run through this valley for nearly 120 years.
The meadow is part of Trout Brook (previously Trillium) Nature Sanctuary. The paved path is the Trout Brook Regional Trail and the taller reeds behind it hide the Trout Brook. Farther back are railroad tracks that have run through this valley for nearly 120 years.
A Twelve-spotted Skimmer dragonfly paused long enough for me to get a picture.
A Twelve-spotted Skimmer dragonfly paused long enough for me to get a picture.
Just north of Jessamine I rode up to, but not into, the Trout Brook Sanctuary.
Just north of Jessamine I rode up to the Trout Brook Sanctuary Rose Street entrance.

I couldn’t spare the time (or energy) to properly explore Trout Brook Nature Sanctuary on this ride. Touring the Sanctuary is on the list of a future outing. With close to six miles more to go to get to my destination I needed to continue moving.

The Rose Street entrance of Trout Brook Sanctuary takes you past the back of New Harmony Care Center.
The Rose Street entrance of Trout Brook Sanctuary takes you past the back of New Harmony Care Center.
The New Harmony Care Center along Geranium Street.
The New Harmony Care Center along Geranium Street.
Houses on Brainerd Avenue were built at an odd angle in relation to the street.
Houses on Brainerd Avenue were built at an odd angle in relation to the street.

Six-block long Brainerd Avenue is an anomaly because of its 45 degree southwest-northeast angle. Adding to the oddity is that most homes are aligned in a north-south direction rather than at the 45 degree angle of Brainerd Avenue. However, several homes scattered along the six block run were built rotated so the fronts of them are parallel to the street.

When Jacob Hinkel built the Italian Villa-style home in 1872, the road that passed by was called New Canada Road.
When Jacob Hinkel built the Italian Villa-style home in 1872, the dirt road that passed by was called New Canada Road.

The Ann Charlotte and Jacob Hinkel House, built in 1872 at 531 Brainerd, stands out not only among the homes on this street, but also throughout Saint Paul. The 1977 National Historic Register nomination form calls the structure “a rare example of a wealthy man’s country estate” and says it is the only wood-frame house with a cupola in Saint Paul.

Jacob’s time in the home was short – he moved out in 1875, a year after the death of his wife Ann Charlotte. Hinkel lost the home and his business holdings a year later, the result of the Panic of 1873.

The Hinkel house prior to restoration. Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society
The Hinkel house prior to restoration. Courtesy Minnesota Historical Society

Modifications and additions were made to the home by its owners over the next 100-plus years. Then James B. and Karen Sullivan purchased the home in 1970. Six years later, following extensive research and planning, historic restoration began, which resulted in the impressive and historically correct home as it looks today at 531 Brainerd.

The cupola atop the Hinkel House was removed in the 1920s and was reconstructed as part of the Sullivan’s renovation.
The cupola atop the Hinkel House was removed in the 1920s and was reconstructed as part of the Sullivan’s renovation.
The leaded glass surrounding the front door.
The leaded glass surrounding the front door.
One door to the east is another obviously older than average house. Built in 1885, only 12 years later than the Hinkle's home, 535 Brainerd is a much simpler style than its Italian Villa neighbor.
One door to the east is another obviously older than average house. Built in 1885, only 12 years later than the Hinkle’s home, 535 Brainerd is a much simpler style than its Italian Villa neighbor.

Payne-Phalen

My first stop in Payne-Phalen was at the corner of Payne and Ivy Avenues.
My first stop in Payne-Phalen was at the corner of Payne and Ivy Avenues.

The Payne-Phalen neighborhood starts where Brainerd Avenue ends on the east, at Ivy Avenue. Another block east, at Ivy and Payne Avenue, there were several items of  interest that brought me to a stop. The Bird’s Nest and its unique sign was the first.

The Birds Nest, at the corner of Ivy and Payne Avenue, specialized in pet birds. Unfortunately, the store’s owner wasn’t in when I visited.
The Birds Nest, at the corner of Ivy and Payne Avenue, specialized in pet birds. Unfortunately, the store’s owner wasn’t in when I visited.

While the building at 1324 Payne still has the creative Birds Nest sign, the store closed in February 2019.

The Alm Building is across Payne from The Birds Nest. The building has suffered through some unfortunate changes since it was completed in 1927.
The Alm Building is across Payne from The Birds Nest. The building has suffered through some unfortunate changes since it was completed in 1927.
The Alm Building inscription is above a door on the Ivy Avenue side.
The Alm Building inscription is above a door on the Ivy Avenue side.
Back on the east side of Payne is the Payne Ivy Grocery and its mural declaring East Side Pride.
Back on the east side of Payne is the Payne Ivy Grocery and its mural declaring East Side Pride.
A close look at one part of the mural on Payne Ivy Grocery.
A close look at one part of the mural on Payne Ivy Grocery.

The small but very well-kept Lake Phalen beach and swimming area is on the east side of the lake.
The small but very well-kept Lake Phalen beach and swimming area is on the east side of the lake.

From Payne to Phalen, Lake that is, and the park’s Beach House and swimming area. It was a great spot to top off my water bottle. This was my first visit to this part of the expansive Phalen Park during swimming season, so I took some time to take it in. The beach itself was small, but very clean and inviting. The designated swimming area comfortably handled the crowd on this Sunday but would likely be stretched to its limits (or beyond) on a 90-plus degree day with high humidity.

The Phalen Beach House looked a little tired, and perhaps lacked some of the polish visitors like today.
The Phalen Beach House looked a little tired, and perhaps lacked some of the polish visitors like today.
2017 was the inaugural season of the splash pad.
2017 was the inaugural season of the splash pad, which is at the edge of the beach, and next to the Beach House.

Bouncing back and forth between looking at the lake and beach and taking photos of them, a woman seated nearby and I struck up a conversation. Dorothy Gaul, at Lake Phalen for a wedding, reminisced about coming there when she was 14. “In the late 40s we came to Phalen Beach but it was nothing like it is now. I lived out on Rice Street. I’d take the streetcar Downtown and catch the Phalen streetcar coming out here. It ran on Arcade. And then walk two or three blocks to the beach.”

Dorothy Gaul relaxed on the grass near Lake Phalen.
Dorothy Gaul relaxed on the grass near Lake Phalen.

Dorothy continued, “Of course we had to wear our clothes on the streetcar and then we would change. They had a building  – nothing like that,” pointing to the locker rooms. “Then we’d do our swimming and stuff and then we’d have to dry off and then get back in our clothes and go home.”

Phalen Beach was crowded in the summer of 1946. Courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society
Phalen Beach was crowded in the summer of 1946. Courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society

Visits to Lake Phalen were an occasional thing, according to Dorothy. “It wasn’t a daily thing. We were working in those days. The War was on and we had jobs when we were young.

When I asked Dorothy what she and her friends did when they came to Lake Phalen, she explained, “Just fool around in the water or sit and talk.” So I pushed a bit and asked if she and her friends looked for boys? “Well, there were a few around,” she admitted and chuckled knowingly.

This bath house at Phalen was a 1936 WPA project.
This bath house at Phalen was a 1936 WPA project.

Another Phalen Park memory Dorothy shared with me was her first taste of Dairy Queen. “When Dairy Queen first came out, some fella, he worked at the new Dairy Queen, and he brought a bunch of ice cream and we came out here just to eat the ice cream. There was a patrol that came along and said, ‘You kids aren’t supposed to be in the park after dark.’ And so we left. With the ice cream. It was a real treat then. In those days it had just come out. It was a new thing.”

Curious about the job Dorothy had when she was 14, I asked for details. “I worked at Bethesda Hospital, first in the dishwashing room and then in the dining room. I served the doctors and nurses in the dining room.” Dorothy recalled that she worked at Bethesda for two or three years. She moved on from Bethesda to work at Montgomery Wards. “If you wanted to do things you had to get your own spending money. So that’s what we did, several of us who were about that age. Then later, when I was in high school, I worked at Wards (on University Ave.)” Dorothy’s job at Ward’s is one that was eliminated decades ago. “I worked in the Index Department. It was recording all the people’s sales from five different states. I recorded their purchase, the date and how much they spent.” Dorothy recalled that all the ‘girls’ in the Index Department had to meet quotas. “We had to do so many every 20 minutes. I don’t remember how many it was but you had to keep working. Sometimes you’d work kinda fast so you could have a little break to talk to your friends around you, ‘cause several girls worked there.”

With the start of the wedding imminent, Dorothy excused herself and I got back to riding. Moving southeast along Wheelock Parkway past the south end of Lake Phalen, to East Shore Drive. I turned left and cruised along the east shore of the lake until I came to an arch cut into a 15 foot tall cement and stone wall.

The arch is the entrance to a tunnel under the Bruce Vento Regional Trail, which sits on abandoned Northern Pacific/Burlington Northern Railroad right-of-way.
The arch is the entrance to a tunnel under the Bruce Vento Regional Trail, which sits on abandoned Northern Pacific/Burlington Northern Railroad right-of-way.
Now in the tunnel and looking east, at Lake Phalen. The beach is far off in the distance.
Now in the tunnel and looking east, at Lake Phalen. The beach is far off in the distance.
Going east through the tunnel led to McAfee Street and a neighborhood of homes built in the late 1950s.
The homes on McAfee Circle, a cul-de-sac, were all built between 1993 and ‘97. In fact, McAfee Circle was but a dirt path until 1992 or ’93, which explains why the houses are that era.
The homes on McAfee Circle, a cul-de-sac, were all built between 1993 and ‘97. In fact, McAfee Circle was but a dirt path until 1992 or ’93, which explains why the houses are that era.
The nicely kept rambler at 1450 Arlington Avenue has a swimming pool vibe, from the aqua siding to the ocean blue trim just below the roof and on the steps into the yard.
The nicely kept rambler at 1450 Arlington Avenue has a swimming pool vibe, from the aqua siding to the ocean blue trim just below the roof and on the steps into the yard.
Barn quilts are not rare in farm country but the two displayed at 1633 Arlington is the first and only I’ve seen in Saint Paul.
Barn quilts are not rare in farm country but the two displayed at 1633 Arlington is the first and only I’ve seen in Saint Paul.

I continued east on Arlington to its end at Winthrop Street, where I went north for two blocks until it ended at Hoyt Avenue. I didn’t realize that Winthrop Street bordered the western edge of Hillcrest Golf Course.

Hillcrest Golf Course was on the other side of the fence.
Hillcrest Golf Course was on the other side of the fence.
The spot where Winthrop and Hoyt meet.
The spot where Winthrop and Hoyt meet.

Winthrop Street and Hoyt Avenue, both of which end where they intersect, was an interesting spot. First and most noticeably was the large rectangular open area of grass just to the north.

The two boxy object protruding from the grass imparted an official feel to the landmark. This land, officially 2115 Hoyt Avenue, is owned by the Board of Water Commissioners, the water utility for Saint Paul and nearby cities.
The two boxy object protruding from the grass imparted an official feel to the landmark. This land, officially 2115 Hoyt Avenue, is owned by the Board of Water Commissioners, the water utility for Saint Paul and nearby cities.
What does the path into the woods lead to?
What does the path into the woods lead to?
Following the path for about 10 yards I came upon what appeared to be someone’s personal retreat, which included an empty bird feeder, on the right.
Following the path for about 10 yards I came upon what appeared to be someone’s personal retreat, which included an empty bird feeder, on the right.
Nearby was a weathered bench, crude table made of 2x4s, 4x4s and plywood, and a birdhouse atop a 4x4.
Nearby was a weathered bench, crude table made of 2x4s, 4x4s and plywood, and a birdhouse atop a 4×4.
The intricate birdhouse was in the best condition of the items in the sanctuary.
The intricate birdhouse was in the best condition of the items in the sanctuary.

Between the empty bird feeder and the rough condition of the bench and table, I wonder if the person who created the refuge had abandoned it.

My exploration continued west on Hoyt to Furness Path and then Furness Parkway which were once part of the streetcar line that went from Saint Paul to Mahtomedi.

After four blocks I came to Larpenteur Avenue, the road that is Saint Paul’s northern border on the East Side. Traveling three blocks east I came to Larpenteur and McKnight Road, the northeast corner of Saint Paul. I’m not sure what I expected but it’s fair to say I was underwhelmed in what I saw.

The northeast corner of Saint Paul at Larpenteur Avenue and McKnight Road. This view is looking northeast at Maplewood.
The northeast corner of Saint Paul at Larpenteur Avenue and McKnight Road. This view is looking northeast at Maplewood.
This picture was taken Maplewood, in front of the convenience store pictured in the previous shot. That’s Saint Paul, specifically the now closed Hillcrest Golf Club.
This picture was taken Maplewood, in front of the convenience store pictured in the previous shot. That’s Saint Paul, specifically the now closed Hillcrest Golf Club.

Little did I realize the history of Hillcrest Golf Club, 110 acres of green, rolling hills and mature trees, that had been here since 1921. This part of the East Side was another place in the city I’d never set foot before.

The fence along Larpenteur restricting access to HIllcrest doubled as a billboard for the golf club.
The fence along Larpenteur restricting access to HIllcrest doubled as a billboard for the golf club.

Hillcrest Golf Course was one of a dozen or more Minnesota courses designed by Tom Vardon. Hillcrest was a municipal course from its opening in 1921 until 1945 when it was purchased by a group of Jewish businessmen. who privatized the club. At that time, anti-Semitism was rampant and many private golf clubs banned Jews, so they formed their own club.

The entrance to what was the Hillcrest Golf Club at 2200 Larpenteur Avenue.
The entrance to what was the Hillcrest Golf Club at 2200 Larpenteur Avenue.
Even with, or perhaps because of the recent news that Hillcrest was closing in October, it was a great day to play a round.
Even with, or perhaps because of the recent news that Hillcrest was closing in October, it was a great day to play a round.

Sometime during the 1970s, though it’s not clear exactly when, Hillcrest opened to the general public as an “unrestricted” club.

Hillcrest’s expansive clubhouse opened in 2000 and still looked new in 2017.
Hillcrest’s expansive clubhouse opened in 2000 and still looked new in 2017.

A well-appointed $2.8 million clubhouse opened in 2000, finally replacing the previous structure that was damaged beyond repair in 1962. The high cost of the clubhouse and the decline in popularity of golf put the Hillcrest Golf Club in a financial hole it was unable to escape.

The practice putting green in front of the Hillcrest clubhouse.
The practice putting green in front of the Hillcrest clubhouse.

The 2011 sale of Hillcrest to the unlikely St. Paul Local 455 Steamfitters/Pipefitters Union for $4.3 million postponed but couldn’t stop the club’s inevitable closing.

One of the hills of Hillcrest is obvious in this shot of a fairway. It would make a nice spot for some homes or apartments.
One of the hills of Hillcrest is obvious in this shot of a fairway. It would make a nice spot for some homes or apartments.
Houses outside the eastern edge of the golf course.
Houses outside the eastern edge of the golf course.

As of this writing, the 110 acres that were Hillcrest Golf Club are not on the market but are expected to be sometime in 2019. Given the nature of the surrounding neighborhoods, the former golf club’s redevelopment most likely will be primarily residential.

A final note about Hillcrest Golf Club. Although never officially confirmed, multiple media reports from late 2008 claimed that members of Hillcrest (and the predominantly Jewish Oak Ridge Country Club in Hopkins) lost between $100 million and $300 million they invested with Bernie Madoff.

The return trip began with a look at an unlikely stretch of Winthrop Street – the part gravel, part asphalt 1600 block, which has merely two homes on it, is off Larpenteur.

This section of Winthrop Street is one of the few gravel roads in Saint Paul.
This section of Winthrop Street is one of the few gravel roads in Saint Paul.
1635 Winthrop Street.
1635 Winthrop Street.
The driveway for this house is on Winthrop, but the address is 2144 East Larpenteur. Must be because the sidewalk leads from the front door to Larpenteur.
The driveway for this house is on Winthrop, but the address is 2144 East Larpenteur. Must be because the sidewalk leads from the front door to Larpenteur.

The next stop was at a Saint Paul Sewer Utility holding pond on Ivy Avenue, not because it was that interesting, but because it is named.

Roger Puchreiter was a long-time employee of the City’s sewer utility and, according to The Street Where You Live by Don Empson, the designer of this pond in the early 1970s.
Roger Puchreiter was a long-time employee of the City’s sewer utility and, according to The Street Where You Live by Don Empson, the designer of this pond in the early 1970s.
The Roger Puchreiter pond is on Ivy, between Kennard and Germain Streets.
The Roger Puchreiter Pond is on Ivy, between Kennard and Germain Streets.

Back on Clarence Street, there were two housing complexes to check out. The first was Etna Woods Townhomes, 20 units of affordable housing.

Etna Woods Townhomes, built in 1981, has two, three and four bedroom homes.
Etna Woods Townhomes, built in 1981, has two, three and four bedroom homes.
The Lake Phalen Townhomes were built on three acres of land at Maryland and Clarence in 1999, and replaced five ‘substandard’ apartment buildings.
The Lake Phalen Townhomes were built on three acres of land at Maryland and Clarence in 1999, and replaced five ‘substandard’ apartment buildings.

The Lake Phalen Townhomes are cross Clarence Street from Etna Woods. Twenty-nine in number, the Lake Phalen Townhomes had well cared for, fenced yards, front decks and attached and tuck-under two-car garages.

The Lake Phalen Townhomes’ private roads, driveways and garages at hidden in back.
The Lake Phalen Townhomes’ private roads, driveways and garages at hidden in back.
This group of townhomes line Maryland Avenue.
This group of townhomes line Maryland Avenue.

The Lake Phalen Townhomes redevelopment was a cooperative effort by the City of Saint Paul, a neighborhood nonprofit and the builder.

A structure isn't necessary for a place to have an address as 752 Jessamine Avenue East proves.
A structure isn’t necessary for a place to have an address as 752 Jessamine Avenue East proves.

752 Jessamine Avenue East was missing its house. Paths led me through and around charming decorative gardens growing from planters, pots, the ground, even tires. Benches and chairs dotted the lot inviting visitors linger within the colorful space. Dubbed Stonegarden on Jessamine, the lot was converted to a small park by volunteers in 2013.

Stonegarden on Jessamine is one of three Payne Phalen Pocket Parks that a group of neighbors started to counter the negative perception of the East Side.
Stonegarden on Jessamine is one of three Payne Phalen Pocket Parks that a group of neighbors started to counter the negative perception of the East Side.
Tomato plants climb upward from colorful tires.
Tomato plants climb upward from colorful tires.

Water breaks became more necessary as the mileage and my fatigue grew but Stonegarden proved to be the last stop of the ride worthy of mentioning or photographing. As usual, there is a map of this ride but I’ve added the notes about the stops so you’ll get a better understanding of the trek.

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8 comments

  1. If you had continued on the dirt road that is Winthrop, it curves to the West where it dead-ends at my friends home. I enjoy your blog!

    Like

  2. You write of your visit to Phalen Park: “so I took some time to take it in.” Safe to say you ‘take some time’ & ‘take it in’ on all your rides, which is why these posts are such a treasure & such a pleasure to read. Thanks for the adventure!

    Like

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