Friday, April 25, 2014

Doing the Capital Walk

Through the American Volksmarch group every state has a Capital Walk. I've just never done the Minnesota one and while doing it, actually didn't go to the Capitol Building either since it's rather in my backyard where I live.

I started this walk along Grand Avenue, quite like the walk I reported recently under the post, Walking on Summit Avenue. That walk took me to the west while this one took me east.

Almost the first landmark of note is the place where F. Scott Fitzgerald lived as a child and young man.

The family lived in one of the central units. This building is called a row house, and while this term is used widely in the eastern U.S., to my knowledge this is the only building in Minnesota to carry this label.

As one walks east on Summit Avenue the houses get older and older -- as least old by American standards!

Here's one:

My route took me by a little triangle shaped park. I've driven by it many times, but walking allows one to read signs.

It is officially called Summit Overlook. In the 19th century a hotel stood here. It burned down near the near of the 20th century and the lot stood empty. Then there was a need to place the New York Life Eagle and the park was created.

One thing I like about doing these walks is what one learns when walking. The eagle began its life in 1890 as the sentinel of the New York Life building, which was sited about 4 blocks from where I live now. It was sculpted by Augustus and Louis Saint-Gaudens. It stands 10 feet tall and has a 12 foot wingspan. The weight is 2000 pounds, slightly less than a metric ton.

When the New York Life building was razed for new construction -- and pardon me, but there's nothing at this address of note -- the eagle sat next to parking ramp for several years.The Saint Paul Pioneer Press took on restoration of the eagle as part its 150th anniversary as a Minnesota newspaper.

Continuing along Summit Avenue I came to the James J. Hill house.  James J. Hill was born in Canada in the 1830s and arrived in Minnesota as a young man. By the end of the 19th century he was one of the richest men in the United States. He founded the Great Northwest Railroad which connects Saint Paul to Seattle.
This picture taken in the early morning sun really doesn't do justice to this house. Much to my amazement, I learned this house has 36,000 square feet -- that's way bigger than what are now called the McMansions that we see in some of the suburbs. Among other things the east part of the first floor was an art gallery holding the extensive collection of French paintings owned by the family.

What I've been told that Hill was not Catholic, but his wife was, so a lot of money went across the street to also build the St. Paul Cathedral.

Hill's wife survived him by about 15 years and after her death the house went to the church which used it as a school. Eventually the house was given to the Minnesota Historical Society which now operates it as a museum. In fact, as I walked by the house, the street was lined with school buses for children from other locations in Minnesota here for tours.

Next to the cathedral is St. Paul College. My older granddaughter who will now be living with me will attend here until she has completed what is called the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum. Then she may transfer to many other places to complete her bachelor's degree.

The walk took me to the Minnesota Historical Society. From the hallway there I got a much nicer picture of the cathedral.

I stopped here for awhile for a coffee break. Then it was up the hill and back along the cathedral to Selby Avenue. Dug out one of my books, The Street Where You Live, and found that Selby came to St. Paul in 1849 "for his health." He bought a farm on what was called St. Anthony Hill. The Cathedral is built on some of this land.

This end of Selby is now lined with interesting restaurants and shops.

Moscow on the Hill is one example.

I also found another Little Free Library.
In this area is also the Virginia Street Church. I have always thought its architecture to be charming.

Hard to get a good picture in the morning sun. A sign of the church says it is a Swedenborgian Church.

The St. Paul Curling Club is also located on this street.

Earlier today I discovered I had a blog reader yesterday from Montenegro. That brings the number of countries in which someone has read by blog to 110 in addition to the United States and Puerto Rico. I was wondering if how many of those countries people know what curling is!

And it was nice to see the flower boxes being changed from dried up evergreen to spring flowers.

The yellow flowers in the flower pot above is forsythia. When I was a kid we had these bushes around our home. My brother couldn't say forsythia and always called them "sissy bushes." It was fun to see sissy bush again.

Soon it was time to turn left on Dale. My book says this street suddenly appears on street maps in about 1870. It then marked the very western boundary of Saint Paul and the name is through to be associated with a natural valley or depression in that area.

I eventually made my way to the start point along Milton Street. My book tells me this street is named after the British poet, John Milton.

So I walked 7 K and learned a lot about streets and things not very far from home.


Cynthia said...

I really enjoyed your walk. I enjoy walking in Minneapolis and St Paul when I come to the "big city" and I was wondering what book you use to plan yours.

Lori said...

Cynthia -- I participate in programs sponsored by American Volkssports. You can find about walks in every state by going to