The blows of a backhoe ended an era Friday by striking down the awning of Pedro Luggage, a longtime fixture on the north end of downtown St. Paul.

Three generations of Pedro family members ran the store at 501 N. Robert St. More than a year ago, the family bequeathed the building and land to the city so future generations would have a park.

"We're truly dedicated to using this gift as wisely as we know how," said Bob Spaulding, who as a nearby resident and neighborhood leader helped draft the initial plan for a park.

It is unclear when the park might be built or how it will be financed. "We start today," was all St. Paul Parks and Recreation Director Mike Hamm would say about the schedule.

Next steps include potentially acquiring surrounding property, including a day care and a police station, and beginning design discussions. The park will be named for the Pedro family, but the literary quotes uttered Friday leaned on F. Scott Fitzgerald. Spaulding spoke of the park adding to the "inexhaustible variety of life" in the neighborhood.

Council Member Dave Thune, a preservationist who isn't fond of demolitions, read another Fitzgerald quote: "Vitality shows not only in the ability to persist but the ability to start over."

Carl Pedro Sr. left Italy for St. Paul in 1907 and opened his business, Pedro Luggage, in 1914. In the 1960s, the business moved into a building at 10th and Robert, where it became a boxy landmark. The business has been closed since 2008. The family announced the donation a year later.

Carl S. Pedro, the founder's grandson, watched the demolition but declined to comment.

Rochelle Olson • 612-673-1747