Dayton’s Bluff, high above downtown Saint Paul to the west and the adjoining Swede Hollow, is among the capitol city’s oldest neighborhoods.
Join us on October 11, as MNSAH member Aaron Rubenstein, a historic preservation and land use consultant leads us on a walking tour of this fascinating neighborhood, followed by optional self-guided tours or a group tour of Swede Hollow.
- Walking tour 9:30 A. M. to 12:30 P. M. Tour-goers will be walking approximately 1.75 miles. Tour is rain or shine. Be sure to dress appropriately and wear comfortable shoes.
- Tour begins and ends at First Lutheran Church, 463 Maria Avenue, Saint Paul 55106 (one block north of East Seventh Street)
- Optional self-guided tours and group tour of Swede Hollow and lunch beginning at 12:30 pm
- Parking on-street (watch for 2-hour parking limit in some places) and in the church parking lot located off East Eighth Street directly behind the Burger King building and adjacent to the blue house (not in other First Lutheran Church lots)
Dayton’s Bluff is a local historic district, richly varied both now and historically in terms of social groups and housing stock. Below it, Swede Hollow, a small, now secluded valley, historically was the site of a tight-knit, immigrant settlement of small houses hugging Phalen Creek, without streets or utilities. Swede Hollow is now a lovely park, with only historic images to remind us of what once was.
The tour begins with an introductory presentation at First Lutheran Church, a rather ordinary Gothic Revival style building 1917 building. It does, however, feature extraordinarily beautiful stained glass windows dating to 1968, created by Conrad Schmitt Studios in Milwaukee. The presentation will include historical photographs of the neighborhood and hollow, before and after photos of rehabilitated houses, and artistic representations of Swede Hollow.
Then we’ll meander through Dayton’s Bluff on a walking tour lasting approximately 2.5 hours. We’ll see small Italianate style houses of the 1870s, small and large Queen Anne and Eastlake-style houses, a range of other styles of houses including Craftsman and Colonial Revival, vernacular and eclectic, and the interiors of two historic houses. We’ll also look at the social and historical context of Dayton’s Bluff, its development and infrastructure, its evolution from large, 1870s estates, to a mixed neighborhood of grand and modest houses, and the current dynamic of using historic preservation to stabilize and rejuvenate the neighborhood.
In addition to seeing many vernacular and pattern book houses, as well as the City of Saint Paul’s Fourth Street Preservation Project, we’ll see buildings designed by local architects Augustus F. Gauger, Edward P. Bassford, Hermann Kretz, Reed & Stem, Adam Lansing Dorr, Edwin Radcliffe, and Max Toltz. The Dayton’s Bluff walking tour is approximately 1.75 miles in length.
Following the conclusion of the Dayton’s Bluff walking tour at First Lutheran Church, participants will have the option of self-guided tours or a group tour down into and through Swede Hollow Park. Some may choose to first have lunch at the Swede Hollow Café (located in Augustus Gauger’s 1885/89 Stutzman Block), or walk across the hollow to Yarusso Brothers Italian Restaurant (founded 1933) on Payne Avenue and then wander the length of the hollow (approximately 15 minutes).
There are three ways to enter Swede Hollow: one involves descending 100+ steps located two short blocks from the church, another is via a short ramp on the opposite side of the hollow, and the third is via the Seventh Street Improvement Arches at the southern end of Swede Hollow—also a short walk from the church.
The Seventh Street Improvement Arches are a rare, technically demanding, double-arched structure constructed 1883-84 of buff-colored Kasota limestone. Its two tunnels or arches are both skewed, or angled, and of helicoidal, or spiral, construction, designed by engineer William A. Truesdell. Originally spanning railroad tracks, the arches today shelter a bike and pedestrian path. This impressive, yet easy to overlook, structure is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.
Additional self-guided excursions in the immediate vicinity might include Hamm’s Brewery, Mounds Park, and the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary.
$15 members, $20 non-members, $5 students.
Registration deadline: Monday, October 6.
Or, mail your check (payable to MNSAH) and reservation form to:
c/o Lock Bounds
2072 Iglehart Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55104
For more information on the tour, call Robert Ferguson at 651-290-2130.