Woodland Park Historic District
The Woodland Park Historic District† was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
The Woodland Park District is located west of downtown St. Paul and just north of the Historic Hill District (listed in the National Register). It is roughly a rectangular area with boundaries at Dale Street to the west, Marshall Avenue to the north, and Arundel Street to the east. For the most part the southern boundary follows the southern property lines of residences south of Dayton Avenue. Near Kent Street, the boundary swings down to Selby Avenue to include four buildings. The major streets run east-west so that the majority of the buildings have a north-south axis.
The District is made up of 68 buildings constructed between 1880 and 1924. All but one of these is residential, the exception being the Dayton Avenue Presbyterian Church. Forty-eight percent of the extant buildings were built during the 1880s and only eight percent after 1910. Roughly thirty percent are either brick or stone with masonry bearing walls. The larger proportion, seventy percent, are of wood frame construction. Of these, sixty percent are sided in wood clapboard, twenty-four percent have been resided with asphalt or asbestos, and the remaining sixteen percent have been stuccoed. Twelve distinct styles can be recognized in the district, the predominant one being Queen Anne with more than one-fourth of the buildings in this category.
Marshall Avenue is a one-way street with traffic flow to the west. In 1971 houses on the north side of Marshall between Kent and Mackubin Streets were razed to make room for the construction of the Martin Luther King Center which now occupies the entire block. The Housing and Redevelopment Authority of St. Paul is presently planning to fill in the vacant lots on the north side of Marshall Avenue between Arundel Street and Mackubin Street with houses compatible with those across the street. The south side of Marshall Avenue between Dale and Arundel Streets remains residential with the majority of buildings constructed as single family dwellings.
Dayton Avenue is a one-way running east. The majority of buildings on this street were built as single family dwellings. There has recently been considerable interest in renovating and restoring structures, along Dayton Avenue, especially at the node of Dayton Avenue and Kent Street.
Selby Avenue is a busy two-way thoroughfare with a high concentration of commercial buildings. The four buildings facing Selby which are included in the District are multiple-unit residential buildings.
The buildings in the Woodland Park District have been divided into four categories:
The Woodland Park District is significant in its representation of the major architectural styles in vogue in Minnesota between 1880 and 1910. Twelve distinct styles can be recognized in the buildings of the District, some having been executed by prominent local architects and others by catalogue builders.
The Woodland Park District is made up of the Selby, McClung, and Vanmeter's Addition (1857) and portions of the Mackubin and Marshall's Addition (1855) and the Woodland Park Addition (1870). These first two additions were platted early in the history of the city of St. Paul when speculation in real estate was at its peak. This period was followed by the panic of 1857 and depressed real estate value. It was not until after the Civil War when the money market was easy and the railroads were being built that people began moving into the District in any numbers.
As the city of St. Paul grew, the population pushed up St. Anthony Hill, the river bluff upon which the District is located. Certain areas along the edge of the bluff, namely Summit Avenue, were considered very fashionable ever since Henry Rice, one of St. Paul's leading citizens, built his home there in 1870.
The eastern end of Dayton Avenue where it met Summit also attracted many prominent St. Paul families. It had some notable residents even before the Civil War, but with the economic boom of the 1870s, many of the city's wealthy built large homes in the area. It was only a matter of time until the population expanded further westward, especially down Dayton Avenue. The Woodland Park Addition was bought at this time for $9,000, platted and sold five months later for $20,000,
Whereas the wealthy and prominent lived on or near Summit Avenue, the Woodland Park District attracted professional people, owners of small businesses, clerks, and skilled laborers. One of the first residents was Edward Webb, a lawyer who built at 482 Marshall Avenue in 1867 and lived there until 1890. The house has since been razed. John M. Carlson, the building contractor who built the second State Capitol, was another early resident of the area. In 1871 he built a home for himself at 486 Dayton Avenue which is no longer extant. He later built four other houses across the street on the north side of Dayton Avenue which are still standing.
† Adapted from: Charles W. Nelson, Architectural Historian. Minnesota Historical Society, and Peggy Lindoo, Research Intern, Old Town Restoration, Inc., Woodland Park Historic District, Ramsey County, MN, nomination document, 1978, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.
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