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September 2010 Volume 16 Number 9

Your Community News & Information Source

The Allure of Lowertown Residents are attracted to the neighborhood for a number of reasons Bill Knight Contributor


or some of Lowertown’s newer residents, the timing of their move seems to be a deciding factor in their satisfaction with the quality of life in downtown St. Paul’s urban village. For example, Troy Parkinson and his young family moved to Lowertown last July, attracted by the new restaurants, the artists’ community, the St. Paul Farmers’ Market and the coming light rail. However, people like Greg Peterson, who moved here 10 years ago, were sold on a quiet neighborhood that is close to transportation and their job. “For a newbie in Lowertown, what excites me is all the new energy coming in here,” said Parkinson. “Everything that Lowertown has to offer is exciting for our family.” Parkinson, 32, his wife, Chandra, and their two children relocated from St. Paul’s Highland Park neighborhood to a condo overlooking Mears Park. Peterson and his wife chose Lowertown mainly for access to entertainment venues and its small town charm. He is a retired veterinarian who worked at the Pomeroy Animal Hospital in Lowertown in the 1970s, but during most of his career traveled throughout rural Minnesota and Wisconsin doing regulatory work

Photo by Marina Castillo

Greg Peterson moved to Lowertown 10 years ago for its small town charm and entertainment venues. for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He retired in 2001. “Most people go from living and working in the big town and then retire in a smaller community. I did just the opposite,” he said with a laugh. “At the time we were looking, there were only about three choices — the Galtier Towers, Market House and City Walk — so there has been a big expansion, especially in the last five years.”

Peterson said Lowertown is shaped by the people who have been living here for several years. “The people (moving) here have made it a stronger neighborhood,” he said. “Over the past five years we’ve hit a critical mass of people moving and living here.” Ironically, both new and long-time Lowertown residents cite many of the same reasons for moving to the neighborhood, according to Bud

Kleppe, a Lowertown realtor and downtown resident. “People in their 30s don’t have time to deal with a yard,” he said. “They want a maintenance-free home and to be close to work, so living in Lowertown makes perfect sense to them. And the empty-nesters are buying for just about the same reason. They have mowed the lawn for many years and they don’t want to do that anymore. “But many of those who bought (more recently) were sort of promised a great, vibrant city and the nightlife,” he added. “They want to be close to the restaurants and to our quasi-nightlife, although we’re not quite like Minneapolis, yet.” And for some, Lowertown is a yet-to-be discovered urban gem. “People who were here from Uptown in Minneapolis for a recent Lowertown rock festival were saying, ‘What is this Lowertown and why do I like it so much?’ and that was refreshing,” said Kleppe. “Lowertown hasn’t been attacked by change yet. It still has a nice, independent vibe to it.”

Hot-button issues

Two topics – downtown retail shopping and public safety – reveal that residents are not shy with their suggestions on how

Downtown Living / Page2

Sample St. Paul Event Guide Page 4

Get involved in America’s Great Outdoor Initiative Page 6

Friendship made in rehab leads to CD release Page 7

H ousing Downtown Living / from page 1 to make Lowertown more liveable. More retail, especially a grocery store, is the most common comment Peterson hears from others who attend First Friday social events hosted by the CapitalRiverCouncil (CRC), Lowertown’s district council. That sentiment is also supported by

Your community news and information source CRC surveys. “The reason I live in a condo is that I don’t want to get in my car and have to drive every time I want a gallon of milk,” Peterson said. “I like to walk and I want to walk to the store.” Kleppe said he frequently hears the lament about not having a grocery store, but tends to discount it because most people drive to a grocery

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store since they may have several bags to carry out. “To say you are not going to live here simply because of no grocery store is kind of weak,” he said. Downtown currently has one grocery store, Rivertown Market at 437 N. Wabasha, and will have a Lunds grocery store next year, if plans come to fruition for the new store that is scheduled to open in the

Penfield development on Minnesota Street.

Public safety

In the seven years he’s lived downtown Ed Coleman said that public safety has improved. Since 2008 he has been the manager of the Spectacle Shoppe in the Lowry Building. Outside of work he’s a musician playing percussion. “The police officers in

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St. Paul do a great job,” he said. “You’ll always have a few problems and sometimes people forget, hey, it’s a city. But we don’t have the problems other big cities have. Where I grew up there were gangs, and it wasn’t uncommon to hear shots from an UZI and then someone yell, ‘Halt, police.’” Coleman gives the city an overall grade of C. “I’m looking for it to get to a B and I think they can do it,” he said. “It’s in the incubator of nightlife now and I’d like to see the city do more.” As a musician, Coleman suggests the city could do more with the students at the McNally Smith School of Music. “There are some great clubs so let’s utilize them and put the students in different venues,” he said. Many Lowertown residents say they value the

ability to walk throughout the downtown area and they feel safe on the streets. Parkinson said he and his seven-year-old enjoy playing at a nearby Tot Lot that is just a block from their condo, although he said the park needs help. “It’s a bit run down, so I want to help and be one of the voices for young families in Lowertown,” he said. “But it’s exciting to have a park close by and be able to walk just a block to work. And my son loves having the swimming pool (in the building).” Kleppe and his wife have two children and they walk all over the downtown area. “I walk to and from my home and office at all hours of the day and night,” he said. “I may get panhandled once or twice but I don’t consider that a security threat.”

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Page 2 - Downtown St. Paul Voice - September 2010

F uller Files CRC names new officers

Andrew Schlack is the new chair of CapitolRiver Council/District 17. Renee Skoglund is chair -elect. Other new officers include Rosemary RegerRumsey, treasurer; JoAnn Hawkins, secretary; and Paul Mandell and Jim Miller, vice presidents. Schlack named Bill Thurmes, Michael Heelan and Tara Mattesich to the board as chair appointments. In addition, seven downtown organizations will have representatives named to the board, including St. Paul Building Owners and Managers Association, St. Paul Design Center, Unity One Credit Union, Visit St. Paul, Capitol Area Architecture and Planning Board, Downtown Building Owners Association and the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce. Three other organizations will be invited to name members to the 35-member board, which has 22 at-large members, 10 organizational members and three chair appointments.

Lifetime Fitness looking to relocate downtown

Lifetime Fitness is leaving the University Club, 340 Cedar, after 13 years because the club could not agree on terms for a new lease with its landlord, John Rupp. Lifetime Fitness plans to look for another downtown site. Rupp is looking for another fitness center for the space.

Brick vs. concrete street debate

Your community news and information source

by Roger Fuller

Bob Spaulding asked the CapitolRiver Council/District 17 to reconsider a decision by the Environment, Movement and Public Realm Committee, which supported the plan of the city to replace brick pavers with stamped concrete on Wabasha Street. Spaulding, a former District 17 member, said brick pavers better complement the historic quality of downtown. He added that Duluth has been able to manage brick pavers in

its downtown for the past several decades. Tim Griffin of the St. Paul Design Center said the Public Works department prefers the stamped concrete because the brick pavers have maintenance problems.

First Friday

CapitolRiver Council will host a First Friday social gathering 4-6 p.m., Fri., Sept. 3, at Station Four, located at Fourth and Sibley. The event is held to encourage downtown residents to become better acquainted.

Publication party

St. Paul Almanac will hold a publication party at 7 p.m., Thurs., Sept. 16 at the Black Dog Café, 308 Prince St. The annual publication contains information about St. Paul and articles written by local residents.

Poetry Slam attracts 15K

Attendance at the recent National Poetry Slam was about 15,000, according to Matt Rucker, director. He said the event had a budget of about $60,000 and received an equal amount in in-kind contributions. The St. Paul team, which won last year at the national finals in Palm Beach, Fla., repeated as champions. A team from New York City finished second.

New café planned for Central Library

The Central Library in downtown St. Paul is accepting applications from interested parties to run a small café in the space of the former Zelda’s Café, located on the ground level near the front entrance. Sheree Savage of the library said the café will feature primarily soup, salads and sandwiches. For more information, call 651-2667000.

Central Library events

Central Library Book Club will discuss “The Tattooed Girl” by Joyce Carol Oates at 10:30 a.m., Thurs., Sept. 9 at the library, located at 90

W. Fourth St. The History Book Club will review “The Great Influenza” by John Barry at 2 p.m., Thurs., Sept. 23. The book explores the worldwide plague of 1918. Nancy Pearl, who has written about libraries and books, will appear at 2 p.m., Sat, Sept. 25.

City Passport events

City Passport senior citizen center, located on the mezzanine level of the Alliance Bank Building, is hosting the following events: Baby Hat Club, 1 p.m., Thurs., Sept. 9; Happy birthday party, 2 p.m., Mon., Sept. 13; Writer’s group, 10:30 a.m., Fri., Sept. 17; Current events discussion, 11 a.m., Fri., Sept. 17; Ladies tea, 2:30 p.m., Mon., Sept. 27; Free hearing screenings, 10 a.m., Tues., Sept. 28. Movies shown at 1 p.m. on Thursdays, include: “Avatar” on Sept. 2; “The Proposal” on Sept. 9; “Days That Shook the World 1940-59” on Sept. 16; “New in Town” on Sept. 23 and “Eric Clapton in Concert” on Sept. 30.

European Table closes

European Table on the skyway level of the Alliance Bank building has closed due to lack of business, according to co-owner Kathryn Severance. The business will continue to sell products on the Internet. Merchandise such as French and Belgian towels, linens, mustards, jams and skin care products may be ordered at and www. The store was located in the Hamm building for two years before it came to the Alliance Bank Center last year.

Enrollment up at downtown colleges

More students will be seen downtown this fall as two downtown colleges are predicting higher enrollment. McNally Smith College of Music plans to enroll about 700 students for

the upcoming year. This includes 506 students studying for a bachelor’s degree and 163 for an associate degree. Throughout the year the college offers musical programs from faculty and students. These performances are open to the public. The College of St. Scholastica expects to increase enrollment by seven percent for the upcoming school year. The college usually enrolls about 500 students at its St. Paul campus, located on the ground floor of the University Club. St. Scholastica offers degrees in five undergraduate and three graduate programs. The college has a main campus in Duluth and four extension centers in addition to St. Paul.

mometer for free. You can also receive a free, reusable 2.5-gallon container to hold used motor oil. Items accepted include, but are not limited to, aerosol cans (no empty cans), paint (no empty or dry cans), antifreeze, paint stripper and thinner, batteries, fluorescent lights, used motor oil and oil filters, gasoline, kerosene, weed killer, products with mercury, such as thermometers, and wood preservatives. Appliances and electronics are not accepted. For hours of operation and more information, call the Ramsey County Recycling & Disposal Hotline at 651-633-EASY (3279) or visit www.

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The popular Saturday Live series will continue in September with weekly performances at the St. Paul Public Central Library, 90 West Fourth St. The following programs begin at 11:15 a.m. For more information, visit Sept. 11 - Schiffelly Puppets will bring a fractured fairy-tale to life. Setp. 18 - Magical Mia will mystify and entertain with sleight of hand and

Saturday Live

Ramsey County’s household hazardous waste collection site at Bay West, located near the State Capitol at 5 Empire Dr. in St. Paul, is open year-round. Dropoff is free for residents of Ramsey, Washington, Dakota, Hennepin, Anoka and Carver counties with a photo I.D. If you drop off an old mercury thermometer, you can receive a new digital ther-

illusions involving flowers, umbrellas, scarves, gems, pearls, butterflies and more. Sept. 25 - Musical guests the Okee Dokee Brothers will engage the audience with interactive songs and activities.

Ballet Tuesday

Landmark Center and St. Paul City Ballet will present Ballet Tuesdays at noon the second Tuesday of the month, Sept. 14-May 10, 2011, at the Landmark Center, 75 W. 5th St. The free performances will feature the St. Paul City Ballet’s Company of dancers performing excerpts from their holiday show, The Enchanted Toy Shop, The Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. For more information, visit www.

‘Thrill Me’ at Lowry Lab

Lowry Lab Theatre, located at Fifth and St. Peter, will present “Thrill Me” Sept. 17-18. The performance is a joint faculty-student production from Gustavus Adolphus College. Brazen Theatre will perform “The Lady in Question” on Sept. 24-26 and October 1-3.

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Downtown St. Paul Voice - September 2010 - Page 3

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Ordway Center for Dave Matthews Band’s Performing Arts

Xcel Energy Center

“Summer Tour 2010,” with special guests Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears, is coming to Xcel Energy Center at 7 p.m., Wed., Sept. 15. Tickets are $65. The Xcel Center is located at 199 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul. For more information, visit www.xcelenergycenter. com.

Children’s Museum “The Wizard of Oz,” the first officially licensed and sanctioned traveling educational exhibit based on the beloved film classic, is featured through Sept. 12. Visitors will journey through child-size reproductions of memorable sets from the movie, such as the colorful Land of Oz, the Witch’s Castle and Emerald City. Tickets are $8.95. The museum is located at 10 W. Seventh St., St. Paul. For more information, call 651-2256000.

“Evita” is featured Sept. 30-Oct. 31, at the Ordway Center for Performing Arts, 35 Washington St., St. Paul. This performance details the life of First Lady of Argentina Eva Perón, who was a legend in her time. A country girl, she rose to become the most powerful woman Latin America had ever seen— a potent symbol of hope and change. The Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice opera is the powerhouse telling of her brief and fascinating life. Tickets are $19-$39. For more information, call 651-224-4222 or visit

History Center “The Beatles! A OneNight Stand in the Heartland” is presented through Sept. 12 at the Minnesota History Center. The Beatles perfomed only once in Minnesota, continued on next page

Concrete and Grass Lowertown Music Festival

Photo by Connie Shaver

The fourth annual Concrete and Grass Lowertown Music Festival will return to St. Paul’s Mears Park Sept. 9-11. The festival will feature classical, indie rock, opera, hip hop, jazz, punk rock and blues on two stages. The festival kicks off on Thurs., Sept. 9 with a Club Crawl, featuring live music in a number of Lowertown clubs. The Mears Park performances will take place on the permanent stage and a second acoustic stage on Sixth Street, beginning Friday afternoon and continuing through Saturday evening. The music will continue after the park closes at 10 p.m. with additional performances on stages of neighboring clubs in the Lowertown Entertainment District. The Festival includes Thursday happy-hour music beginning at 3:30 at various Lowertown clubs. Music begins in Mears Park at 5 p.m. on Friday and noon on Saturday. Food, wine and beer from restaurants in the Lowertown Entertainment District will be available for purchase. For more information, visit

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S ample St. Paul on Aug. 21, 1965. This exhibit features images taken by  Bill Carlson of frenzied fans, close-up images of the band and concert images, some of which have never before been seen.  The exhibit also tells the story of a young photographer who got the experience of a lifetime, a local concert promoter who chose not to advertise the concert for fear of crowds that might get out of control, and the lucky fans who did attend. “Minnesota’s Greatest Generation: The Depression, The War, The Boom” - This exhibit features more than 6,000 square feet of artifacts, interactive displays and innovative multimedia experiences that reveal the lives and stories of the men and women who came of age during the Depression and World War II, and who went on to create the phenomenal postwar boom. The exhibition features first-person narratives in recorded

Your community news and information source

interviews, images, film and audio. “MN 150”- Meet 150 people, places, events and things that sparked significant change within Minnesota and beyond. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and college students, and $5 for children ages 6-17. The Center offers free admission on Tuesdays, 5-8 p.m. For more information, call 651-2593000 or visit www.mnhs. org.

History Theatre Sample Night Live, a sampling of local productions, is featured at the History Theatre at 7 p.m. the first Wednesday of each month, except February. The format features 12 acts per night, including theater, film, dance, improv, visual arts, folk and opera. Tickets are $20. The History Theater is located at 30 E. Tenth St., St. Paul. For more information, call the box office at 651292-4323.

Science Museum “Dead Sea Scrolls: Words That Changed the World.” This exhibit, featured through Oct. 24, offers a rare opportunity to witness one of the greatest archaeological finds of the 20th century. The Dead Sea Scrolls include the earliest known Biblical writings. The 2,000-year-old authentic text fragments are steeped in scientific, religious and cultural significance. Complementing the exhibit is “Arabia,” showing in the Omnitheater. This film offers a look at Arabia’s culture, history and religion. Tickets are $28 for adults and $22 for children ages 4-12 and seniors age 60 and older, or $34 and $28 respectively with admission to the Omnitheater. The Science Museum is located at 120 W. Kellogg Blvd. For more information, visit, or call 651-221-9444.

Artists’ Quarter

The Artists’ Quarter, located in the Historic Hamm Building at Seventh Place and St. Peter in downtown St. Paul, offers live entertainment throughout the month, including jazz bands, poetry nights and the popular B-3 organ night, held at 9 p.m. every Tuesday. For a complete schedule of events, call 651-2921359 or visit

onstrations, butter sculptures, animals, parades and much more. Tickets are $11 (free for kids 5 and under). Bargain days and discounted tickets bought before the Fair are available. For more information, visit www.

Minnesota State Fair

The Great Minnesota Get-Together, held through Sept. 6 in St. Paul, draws more than 1.6 million visitors annually and showcases Minnesota’s finest agriculture, art, industry and people-watching. Everything edible on a stick can be found at the fair, along with a giant Midway, a kidway, free music, Grandstand concerts, giveaways, product dem-

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Downtown St. Paul Voice - September 2010 - Page 5

R iver Connections

Your community news and information source

America’s Great Outdoors Initiative

Our President wants you to explore the Mississippi River… and other natural amenities lived there. “Look! A bald eagle,” Jake called out as we aphis spring, my son proached the mouth of Jake, 14, and I took the Zumbro. We let the a weekend canoe trip canoe drift quietly along on the Mississippi River as we closely examined and one of its tributarour National bird, which ies: the Zumbro River. was perched only yards As we dipped our paddles away on a dead branch into the river, it quickly of a nearby tree. As we Photo courtesy of National Park Service became evident that the stroked further upstream, vast number of supplies we saw another eagle, and The National Park Service offers many programs to engage the comwe had along — tent, then another. Suddenly, munity in exploring the great outdoors, including a youth program cooler, Coleman stove, four bald eagles were with Wilderness Inquiry and Urban Wilderness Canoe Adventure. etc. — would require playing hop-scotch with us as we paddled a hand- of the thrill of rounding Let’s Move Outside Ju- promote recreation and ful of miles to VENTA a remote each bend. As the nior Ranger Program of conservation. The plan GRAN DEriver GARAJE sandbar, which would be flames flickered in the the National Park Ser- was developed in 2006 juguetes, artículos para hogar, muebles ourRopa, campsite. night,el we heard strange vice, held in partnership as a way to link new and Next-to-New Garage Sale sponsored by the Junior y otrosnight, artículos ligeramente usados! Vestidos That after we noises in the forest, fish with Wilderness Inquiry, existing park land toLeague of St. Paul on Saturday, October 2 from 8 de novia nuevos! Sábado jump 2 de octubre, desde had scavenged enough in the river, and Inc. and Urban Wilder- gether, thus making the a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Dairy Building on MN State las 8 a.m. a alas 4 p.m. en secretly el Edificiowondered Dairy en las driftwood for campfire, about ness Canoe Adventure. area “more natural, more Fairgrounds. New and gently-used clothing, toys, funciona Feriafrom Estatal weinstalaciones talked of thedonde day. We our la safety thede wild A youth listening session urban and more connectbooks, household, furniture, collectibles, and much Minnesota. Venta a mitad de precioWe desde la out 1 of was held at Mill City ed.” lamented the difficulty of animals. were more! Half price sale starts at 1 p.m., followed by y desde 3 p.m. todo que pueda thep.m. paddle, we las marveled ourlocomfort zone,poner and we Museum in Minneapolis “America’s Great Out$5 per bag sale at 3 p.m. en una bolsa costará $5. at the number of eagles were happy. that day, and the com- doors Initiative will play Patrocinado porwe la Liga Júnior deASaint we had seen and spoke tripPaul. such as ours is munity listening session an important role in exactly what the organiz- took place at the Ted confronting the serious ers of the new Great Out- Mann Concert Hall in challenges our natural doors Initiative hope to Minneapolis. resources face today: clisee happen more often. mate change, air and waThe goal of the federal Regional ter pollution, landscape program, which was re- discussions fragmentation and loss cently instituted by PresLocally, the National of open space,” said Agidential Memorandum, Park Service has been riculture Secretary Tom is simple: to get more hosting a Mississippi Vilsack in a prepared John Jenkins, a young journalist, people outdoors and to River Forum series since statement. “This effort is marking off time at the smallspark a national dialogue April 2009, which en- will bring Americans town Marquette Messenger until on how we can protect courages discussion on from across the country he can get into the big-league and conserve our natural how to protect and pre- together to look for new resources. According to serve the river. These approaches to protect our newspapers. After all, nothing the Council on Environ- discussions fit perfectly national treasures, and it significant ever happens in a mental Quality (CEQ), into this national initia- will highlight the imporfarming community, he thinks. 80 percent of Americans tive. Some of the topics tance of working across Then one day Jenkins is given live in cities and suburbs. have included the value ownership boundaries to a routine, dull assignment—to Coalition members, in- of open space, improv- restore and conserve both write the obituary of an elderly cluding the departments ing water quality with private and public lands of the Interior and Agri- innovative local farmer, Alfred Gutzman. stormwater in a way that recognizes culture, the Environmen- techniques, drinking the that conservation and The remarkable untold story tal Protection Agency Mississippi River, and economic vitality are inJenkins uncovers through his and the CEQ, want to see the Mississippi Makeover extricably linked.” investigation, happenstance enbetter access to our rivers, Project. For more inforcounters with people who knew parks, lakes and other na- mation and future forum Volunteering Gutzman, and covert visits to his tional amenities, which dates, visit http://www. If you are interested farm, challenge everything the in turn will hopefully helping preserve the promote better conser- science/rfmonthly.htm river, contact one of the young reporter holds dear... vation and preservation or call the National Park following area St. PaulA poignant glimpse of the heart wounds of practices. To get the ball Service at 651-290-3030. based organizations: rolling, they are hosting The St. Paul Riverfront • Friends of the MissisWWII vets on both sides of the line listening sessions across Corporation recently sippi River - www.fmr. Available at: the country. The first one began its next round of org, 651-222-2193 was held in St. Paul on discussions to update the • Great River Greening Aug. 4. The event began Great River Park Master www.greatrivergreening. 165 Western Ave. N., St. Paul • 651-225-8989 with more than 40 youth Plan, which is a planning org, 651-665-9500 other retail outlets and major online retailers, including: paddling a voyageur ca- document used to help • Mississippi River Fund / noe to Harriet Island, the connect people to the -, site of a press conference. Mississippi River and to 651-290-3030. For more information, visit The youth are part of the Page 6 - Downtown St. Paul Voice - September 2010 Tim Spitzack Editor


us to use more strength in each stroke. We dug in hard until we finally found our rhythm, and once our muscles were warmed and cooperative we were able to enjoy the beauty of the landscape. As we glided along a bushy bank, which cooled us from the warm afternoon sun, we were able to peer into the forest to see the different foliage, wildflowers and birds and animals that



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Friendship made in rehab leads to CD release When Johnny Park and Dan DeMuth met for the first time in 2008 they realized they had two things in common: they loved to make music and they both struggled with substance abuse, which kept them from their first love. That meeting took place in a St. Paul sober house and was the beginning of the road to recovery for both. The duo, who grew up as musicians in the Twin Cities, recently released their first self-produced CD, “Greater Than Magnets,” under the band name The Oh Eeks’. The tracks were cut in the basement of the sober house but were professionally mixed by Justin Schwartzbauer at Toefist Studios. Joining them on the tracks were Al Vorse, of Sirens of Titan, on bass and Jimmy Bayard on guitar. Both Park and DeMuth admit that their substance abuse nearly squelched their passion for music. However, during recovery, that desire was rekindled and the two began to record and perform songs Park had written during his time on the street, in jail and in rehab. The songs on the CD include honest lyrics that reveal a checkered past and a step toward redemption. The band performs its punk inspired, countryladen folk-rock music around the Twin Cities. For more information, contact Paul DiMartino at 612860-9928, or visit

Children’s author at classroom and teach basic full-time members). For English and GED classes. more information or to Central Library Children’s author and illustrator Rosemary Wells will be at the St. Paul Central Library at 3 p.m., Sun., Sept. 26, to read from her new bunny story “Max & Ruby’s Bedtime Book.” A short puppet play of Rosemary Wells’ beloved story “Bunny Cakes” will follow the reading, and the costumed character of Max will be in attendance. Books will be available for purchaseand Wells will sign copies. Advance registration is required for this free program. For more information, call 651-2667034, visit, or visit the library, 90 W. Fourth St., St. Paul.

Volunteer opportunities • Ramsey County Community Human Services has volunteer opportunities for people age 18 and older. For more information, contact 651-266-4090 or volunteerservices@ • Minnesota Literacy Council - Volunteers are needed to tutor adult learners, assist in an adult

For more information, contact Allison at 651645-2277, ext 219, or • St. Paul Public Schools - Volunteers are needed to tutor elementary students in the St. Paul Public schools in reading and math. Under the guidance of a classroom teacher, volunteers assist students one-on-one or in small groups. For more information, contact Connie at 612-617-7807 or e-mail cerickson@voamn. org. Volunteers age 55 and older are eligible to receive free supplemental insurance, mileage reimbursement and other benefits through the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), sponsored by Volunteers of America of Minnesota. • The Minnesota Reading Corps is seeking reading tutors for the 2010/2011 school year. The program provides free, one-on-one tutoring to children age three through third grade. Minnesota Reading Corps members receive a living stipend, reimbursement for college (up to $5,350) and health insurance (for

apply online, visit www. or call 1-866859-2825.

Rice Park tours

Rice Park tours are offered at 10 a.m., Wednesdays Sept. 1 and 15, at Landmark Center’s visitor information center. The tours feature an exclusive look inside each building surrounding the park, including the St. Paul Hotel, the St. Paul Central Public Library, the James Jill Hill Reference Library, 317 on Rice and The Ordway Center for Performing Arts. The tours are free but space is limited and reservations are required. To reserve space, call 651-292-3276 or email jhernandez@

Documentaries sought for ‘1968 Film Festival’

Amateur and professional filmmakers alike are invited to share their stories about one of our country’s most turbulent years — 1968. The Minnesota Historical Society is seeking 10-minute documentaries for its “1968

Film Festival” competition, which is open to filmmakers of all levels and includes $10,000 in prize money. Topics may be local, national, personal or political. Interested filmmakers must register at www. by Sept. 10. There is no fee to register. Films will be judged by a panel of historians and film professionals. Winning films and awards will be presented at the “1968 Film Festival,” held Sept. 25 at the Minnesota History Center. Registrants receive special discounts on the “Documentary Nuts and Bolts” classes offered by IFP-Minnesota and access to and use of photographs, video footage and documents from the Society’s archives and collections. Award-winning films will be posted at www.the1968project. org. Winners from the 2009 Film Festival can be viewed there as well. “The 1968 Project” is developed by the Minnesota Historical Society in cooperation with the Chicago History Museum, the Atlanta History Center and the Oakland Museum of California.

Lowertown master plan recieves $165k The Greater Lowertown Master Plan Task Force has received $165,000 in grants to hire an urban planning consultant to develop a master plan for the greater Lowertown area. Over the past 30 years, $750 million in largely private investments have transformed Lowertown from a collection of empty warehouses to a thriving urban village known for its arts community, loft housing and Farmers’ Market. Today, Lowertown is on the brink of another transformation. The Central Corridor light rail line and creation of a multi-modal transportation hub at the Union Depot will create dramatic changes in the Lowertown historic district, offering opportunities for transit-oriented revitalization and development. This and other developments, including a proposed regional ballpark, the Lafayette Bridge redesign and Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary improvements, are estimated to bring $1.5 billion in infrastructure projects to the area. Formed in July 2009, the task force has 14 members and includes Lowertown residents, artists, business owners, a real estate development specialist, urban planners, a local architect, the city of St. Paul’s Artist-in-Residence and others. Five members are on the CapitolRiver Council Board of Directors. Because the project area extends into St. Paul’s East Side, members of the Dayton’s Bluff Community Council are included, as are people working on the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary as part of the Lower Phalen Creek Project. Providing grants to the task force were The Lowertown Future Fund, the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative and The St. Paul Foundation.

PCL CONSTRUCTION SERVICES, INC. Central Corridor Light Rail Transit Operations & Maintenance Facility Bid Date: Sept. 23, 2010 @ 2:00 PM CST Bid Amount: $45,000,000 Owner – Metropolitan Council Design – AECOM Design Team PCL encourages all DBE subcontractors and suppliers to submit bids for this project. We also recommend all bidding subcontractors expend every good faith effort to achieve maximum participation by DBE’s. Plans are available for download for $10 at, eBidDoc #: 1278004. Plans are available for viewing at: Minneapolis Builders Exchange, St. Paul Builders Exchange, and PCL’s Burnsville Office. Scopes include, but are not limited to: selective demolition, parking lot paving and site concrete, cast-in-place concrete, masonry, structural steel framing, light rail track, roofing, glazing, finishes, mechanical and electrical systems, O&M Facility equipment.

PCL Construction Services, Inc. Attn: Chris Hauck 12200 Nicollet Avenue South Burnsville, Minnesota 55337 952-882-9600 FAX: 952-882-9900 An Equal Opportunity Employer M/F/D/V

Downtown St. Paul Voice - September 2010 - Page 7

B ack in Time September 1929 – Fun times, but stock market jitters

Your community news and information source

Don Morgan Contributor


ots of fun things can happen in September. With luck, the steamy days of summer are over and the cold of winter is still far away. In September 1929, folks in St. Paul had some appealing entertainment options. There was a grand welcome home for a local hero and the city’s big theater was redone. If only everyone didn’t have to keep looking over their shoulders at that darn stock market. The Labor Day holiday that year featured great weather. It was quite warm with temperatures in the mid-90s, but low humidity and a nice breeze made for record crowds at the opening weekend of the State Fair. That same week featured the state horseshoe pitching championship held on 24 new courts set up in a city park. Two hun-

dred thirty entries from around the state proved that a lot of Minnesotans took their horseshoes seriously. At the end of the three-day tourney, a crowd of over 1,000 would see a Minneapolis man take the title. He won no money, just state bragging rights.

Nervous investors

Those with money were getting a little nervous about it. The Dow average had climbed steadily throughout the decade, from about 64 in 1921 to a new high of 381 on the day after Labor Day. Late that same week, though, came a sharp drop. Some began to worry that they were seeing a replay of the Florida land boom of the early 1920s, a classic speculative bubble with the usual sorry ending. But the market soon bounced back. Even investors’ thoughts turned mostly to golf the second week of

September as news came that local favorite Harrison R. “Jimmy” Johnston had won the U.S. Amateur golf title at Pebble Beach in California. In recent years this title has gone to teenage phenoms on their way to a big pro career (Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods each won the title at the age of 19) but the 1920s were the age of the gentleman amateur. Johnston, age 33, a World War I veteran with a wife and two children, was a St. Paul native and well-known in Midwest golf circles. The Amateur was his first time playing in California. Then as now, the eighteenth fairway at Pebble Beach ran along with the Pacific Ocean on its left and Johnston hooked his second shot down onto the beach. With waves lapping at his feet, he calmly hit his third shot onto the green, and went on to win the 36-hole match play. Plans were imme-

diately started for a big welcome home celebration.

Movie innovations

That same week, local moviegoers found out that one of their favorite houses would be unavailable for a couple of weeks. The Capitol, on Seventh Street (now Seventh Place) in the Hamm Building, had been the city’s biggest and fanciest movie house since its opening nine years earlier, but it had been built to exhibit live concerts, vaudeville shows and silent movies. After finishing the St. Paul run of “The Mysterious Dr. Fu Manchu” with Warner Oland and Jean Arthur, the theater closed for a full renovation. Included were new seats, carpet and a new sound system geared to talking pictures. Theater regulars seeking quality entertainment didn’t have to go far. Right across Seventh


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Street the St. Paul Orpheum had booked one of America’s most popular touring orchestras: Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians. They played to good crowds all week. The welcome home for Jimmy Johnston was a major success. An air escort guided his train into St. Paul’s Union Depot, and Johnston was conveyed in style up Fourth Street to a reviewing stand in Rice Park to see the downtown parade of civic and golfing organizations, bands, confetti, etc. It was a big enough deal to attract the mayors of both of the Twin Cities and the governor. That evening at a cozy dinner for 500 at the St. Paul Athletic Club on Cedar Street, Johnston reviewed the tournament, complete with a slide show. Before the days of TV and the Golf Channel, few Minnesotans had ever seen Pebble Beach, so the evening was part golf, part travelogue. The Capitol reopened the following week, but not as the Capitol. In the 1920s, movie studios were still allowed to own theater chains. The Capitol had been sold and would reopen as the Paramount, with a 65-foot electric sign that would be a downtown landmark for the next few decades. The new interior and box office were deemed big successes and the ushering staff got snappy new uniforms of cadet grey with red braid trim. The Marx Brothers’ first movie, “The Cocanuts,” would have been a natural for the open-

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ing. It was a satire based on that same early 1920s Florida land boom. A new Paramount release, it was a filmed version of the Marx’s’ Broadway hit and featured music by Irving Berlin. But the brothers were not yet established in Hollywood so the Paramount opened with “The Dance of Life” (also a filmed version of a Broadway play), and “Cocoanuts” was relegated to a smaller house downtown. Even so, the new theater drew over 10,000 for the first day and was off to a great start. September 1929 ended with its second big market dive, this one described in the Pioneer Press as a “stock selling storm.” Once again the market came most of the way back in just a couple of days. But nervous investors had turned very nervous. The Paramount and the Orpheum remained cross-street rivals and downtown’s two main outlets for first-run studio releases until the mid-1960s. By then, many downtown movie houses were in decline. The Paramount closed for good in 1965. The Orpheum (now back to its original name, the Palace) is still there on Seventh Place: vacant. Harrison “Jimmy” Johnston continued to be active in amateur golf, playing on four Walker cup teams and leading the 1930 British Amateur before losing out to his good friend Bobby Jones. In 1950, he was named Minnesota’s best golfer of the half century. The hickory shafted spademashie (seven iron) with which he hit his historic shot from the beach is in the USGA museum at Far Hills, NJ. Johnston died in Florida in 1969. A month after the September selling storm came the big stock market crash of 1929. It would take the Dow nearly 25 years and a World War to get back to where it had been that day after Labor Day.

DTN Sept 2010  

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