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The U.S. Post Office and Custom House in downtown St. Paul.

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The Lake Harriet Methodist Episcopal Church, now known as the Lake Harriet Spiritual Community.

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Valley School in Denmark Township.

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The Bringgold House in Pine Island.

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4 Minnesota buildings heading for historic designation

  • Article by: JIM ANDERSON
  • Star Tribune
  • March 19, 2014 - 10:49 PM

Four buildings in Minnesota, including the former main post office in downtown St. Paul and a southwest Minneapolis church, appear headed for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

The 14-member State Review Board was to put the nominations to a final vote on Tuesday, but a winter storm that kept some members away threw a wrench into the plans, said Denis Gardner, the state’s National Register supervisor. Without a quorum, the board instead voted unanimously as an ad hoc committee to put all four sites on the register, so the results aren’t official. Plans are to gather the remaining votes separately or wait until the next meeting in May — when with any luck the snow won’t be an issue.

U.S. POST OFFICE AND CUSTOM HOUSE

Where: Downtown St. Paul

Architecture: Modern Movement/Art Deco

When built: 1934

Why it made the cut: It was the center for the city’s postal operations through 2010, when they moved to Eagan. When it was built, it was hailed as the most modern post office in the nation. The building, according to its assessment, “exemplifies the enormous expansion and push for modernization that transformed the country’s postal system.”

That’s interesting: Planning for the building took years, and led to a nationwide investigation of post office leasing practices that held up completion of the building for nearly a decade.

What’s next: Later renamed in honor of former U.S. Sen. Eugene McCarthy, the building was bought last year by developer Jim Stolpestad, who wants to convert it into apartments.

LAKE HARRIET METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH

Where: Southwest Minneapolis

Architecture: Classical Revival

When built: 1916

Why it made the cut: Built during the formative years of the Linden Hills neighborhood, the church, with its octagonal sanctuary and stunning stained-glass windows, typifies Classical Revival architecture and the City Beautiful movement sparked by the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, a historically important celebration of American progress at the time.

That’s interesting: The church was built on a hilltop at the corner of 44th Street and Upton Avenue S. with the aim of making it a neighborhood focal point. With the slope and distinctive dome, the church can be seen well across Lake Harriet from more than a mile away.

What’s next: Still a gathering place now known as the Lake Harriet Spiritual Community.

Valley School

Where: Denmark Township, in south Washington County

When built: About 1852

Architecture: Greek Revival

Why it made the cut: Built in Point Douglas, now a ghost town where the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers meet, the little wooden building nestled in a hillside served as a school until 1946.

That’s interesting: The building typifies the kind of one-room schoolhouses scattered across rural America that were nearly identical in appearance. Since the single teacher’s voice could travel 40 feet, that dictated the size of the building.

What’s next: The Denmark Township Historical Society bought the building in 2012 with hopes of restoring it; the listing opens up access to grant money to help.

BRINGGOLD HOUSE

Where: Pine Island, in southeast Goodhue County

When built: About 1903

Architecture: Victorian/Queen Anne

Why it made the cut: The home of Jacob and Mary Finn Bringgold is a notable example of the picturesque style of Queen Anne architecture, which also showed off the owner’s wealth with large plate-glass windows that had come into fashion in the late 19th century. The house is among a treasure trove of historic homes and buildings in Pine Island.

That’s interesting: The Bringgolds lived in the house for more than 30 years. Jacob Bringgold was a prosperous farmer and a bank president and served several terms as mayor.

What’s next: It’s a private home and expected to remain so.

Jim Anderson



 

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