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“I wanted something small and cute and near all the things that I liked,” she said.
The St. Paul Pioneer Press opened its skyscraper in 1889, at 12 stories slightly taller than the nearby tower of the competing Daily Globe (four more stories were added in 1910). The two six-story Endicott buildings opened in 1890 on either side of the Pioneer; they were designed by Cass Gilbert, who kept his offices there for more than 20 years.
The buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places. Gilbert drew up the State Capitol there, and Ecolab was founded there by Merritt Osborn. Northwest Airlines opened its first ticket office there.
“They are among the very few surviving late 19th-century office buildings in the Twin Cities, and the Pioneer is the last surviving light-court building in Minnesota,” said Larry Millett, a local writer and historian who will publish a book on the Pioneer and Endicott buildings this year.
Longtime St. Paul developer John Mannillo, who once owned, managed and restored the buildings, applauded what Pakonen and Blaiser are doing.
“These old buildings built for offices don’t serve that purpose anymore,” he said. “They are taking something they could never rebuild, and reusing it.”
Pakonen has successfully developed other downtown St. Paul office buildings that found new life as condos, such as the Rossmor and the Lowry.
“There’s a lot of development in Minneapolis, but there are a lot of customers who when they say they’re going downtown, they mean St. Paul,” he said. “We’re there serving those customers.”
Kevin Duchschere • 651-925-5035