A history lesson to chew on

  • Article by: JEFF STRICKLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 5, 2012 - 4:41 PM

The Minnesota History Center is offering a series of tours that people can really get their teeth into.

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Pilgrim Baptist Church held a service in observance of the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1980. The church is home of the state's oldest black congregation.

The Minnesota History Center is offering a series of tours that people can really get their teeth into. The History Food Crawl combines a bus tour of historic St. Paul neighborhoods with stops to sample foods in restaurants that reflect the area's current makeup.

"I realized that two historic neighborhoods where I wanted to put something together share a focus on food," said Danielle Dart, a public program specialist. So she arranged bus tours of the Rondo and Frogtown areas that include stops at historic sites -- including the Pilgrim Baptist Church, home of the state's oldest black congregation -- as well as tasty locations, among them the Hmongtown Market and restaurants serving traditional smokehouse barbecue.

The impetus for the tours -- two of which will be held each month through August -- was the construction of the light rail route along W. University Avenue. Dart was concerned that the neighborhoods along the line would never be the same.

"University Avenue started as a country road, then it became a streetcar line and then, before [Interstate] 94, it became an urban highway," she said. "Every time it changed, it had an impact on the neighborhoods on either side of it. I'm not saying if that was good or bad, but it was change. So I figured that this was our last chance to see the neighborhoods as they are now."

The first food crawl is at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. The bus leaves from the History Center, 345 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul. Tickets, which include food and beverage, are $35; $30 for Minnesota Historical Society members. Reservations are required; call 651-259-3015.

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