Summit – University Homes:
District 8, known as Summit-University, is bounded roughly on the north by University Avenue, on the east by Marion Street to Interstate 94, on the south by John Ireland Boulevard and Summit Avenue, and on the west by Lexington Parkway. The district also includes those buildings on the north side of Irvine Street located immediately below Summit Avenue, east of Ramsey Street. Summit-University is primarily a residential neighborhood with many architecturally and historically significant houses. It also contains two major commercial streets, University and Selby Avenues. Several commercial clusters are also located at major intersections, and there are numerous churches and schools in the area. In general, it was found that the majority of the oldest houses are located in the southeast corner of the district. The portion of the district located north of Interstate 94 retains only a few architecturally and historically significant buildings, largely because of large-scale demolition projects undertaken as part of urban renewal in the 1960’s.
District 8 includes the Woodland Park National Register Historic District and sizeable portions of the National Register and St. Paul Heritage Preservation Commission’s Historic Hill Districts. Since sizeable portions of the neighborhood are within the National Register and H.P.C. Districts and therefore cannot be nominated individually, the Historic Sites Survey staff has recommended for individual designation only sites outside the historic districts.
What is now District 8 was settled initially by a number of farmers including George Luckert and his family who built, in the late 1850’s, one of the oldest houses still standing in the district. It is an impressive, solid stone, three bay house with simple proportions suggestive of the Federal style. In the 1850’s a number of St. Paul businessmen began purchasing and platting large
tracts of land in the area, believing that the section known as St. Anthony Hill had tremendous potential for residential development despite its then somewhat remote location from downtown and Lowertown. The city began annexing the area in 1854 a process which was not completed until 1872, although by that time many families had moved into the area from neighborhoods closer to downtown. Many of the houses built in the area in the 1870’s and early 1880’s employed variations of the Italianate style, which can be seen today in the houses at 310 W. Marshall Avenue, 411 W. Selby Avenue, 217 N. Grotto Street, and 409 W. Dayton Avenue.
During the 1880’s and 1890’s the Summit-University area experienced its greatest settlement, and many of the houses today date from these boom years. A major factor which contributed to the area’s growth was the building of streetcar lines in the late nineteenth century, making the area more accessible to working class and middle class residents, whereas previously it had been essentially the domain of the wealthy. Streetcar lines ran east and west along University Avenue, Rondo Avenue (largely obliterated by the construction of Interstate 94), and Selby Avenue, and north and south along Dale Street, providing ready access to both downtown St. Paul and to the interurban line which was completed in 1891 and traveled to Minneapolis. James J. Hill and Archbishop John Ireland were instrumental in encouraging laborers to settle in the area. Many important commercial buildings were constructed along and near the streetcar lines. Remaining are the buildings at 310-312 W. University Avenue, built in 1889 and now known as Farrington Place; and the buildings at.374-378 Dayton Avenue, built in the early 1880’s one block north of the Selby streetcar line, and now known as Sam’s Discount Mart; and the ornate Tudor inspired building at 622-624 W. University Avenue, built in 1914, and now part of the Faust Theater Complex.
Many of the ornate, woodframe houses built in the Summit/University area in the 1880’s and early 1890’s employed variations on the Queen Anne style, including the George Sawyer House built in 1885 at 61 N. Dale Street; the house built in 1888 at 877 W. Fuller Avenue; the house at 699 W. Hague Avenue built in 1889; the houses at 950-952 and 957-W. Ashland Avenue, both built in 1891; and the house at 796 W. Hague Avenue, built in 1891.
Several of these houses were probably designed by local architects O’Meyer and Thori who designed the house at 800 W. Hague Avenue in 1889 and the huge Queen Anne style double house at 360-362 W. Fuller Avenue in the same year. Another little-known local architect, William H. Castner, designed a number of imaginative, Shingle style houses in the western part of the district during this period, including the house at 725 W. Hague Avenue built in 1889; and the adjacent houses at 1048 and 1050 W. Hague Avenue, both built in 1890.
Although the majority of residential buildings built in Summit-University in the 1880’s and 1890’s were single family houses interspersed with some double houses, a number of distinguished rowhouses and apartment buildings were constructed, most of brick or stone, and many featuring Romanesque detailing. Among them are the brick rowhouse built in 1888 at 242-256 N. St. Albans Street; Summit Terrace, the once home of F. Scott Fitzgerald, built at 587-601 W. Summit Avenue in 1889; and the apartment building at 697-703 W. Laurel Avenue, built in 1892.
Many of the congregations of churches and synagogues in the Summit-University area were established in the nineteenth century, though many of the church, synagogue and related buildings in the area were built in the first decades of the twentieth century. An unusual exception is the building at 933 W. Carroll Avenue which was built circa 1890 as a boiler house and laundry room for the St. Paul Catholic Orphan Asylum, which was established in 1859, and moved its facility for girls to Carroll Avenue in 1883. St. Paul’s Cathedral, located at the east end of Summit Avenue, is one of the city’s finest Beaux Arts style landmarks, built in 1906-1915. Gothic Revival style churches in the area include the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer built in 1910 at 285 N. Dale Street and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Reformation, built in 1913 at 100 N. Oxford Street, and now St. Paul’s Reformation Church. Of historical significance are the Temple of Aaron, built in a modified Beaux Arts style in 1916 at 744 W. Ashland Avenue and now vacant; the St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church at 624 W. Central Avenue, built during the period from 1922 to 1948; and the Pilgrim Baptist Church at 732 W. Central Avenue, built in 1928. St. Luke’s Catholic Church, built in 1924 at 1099 W. Summit Avenue, is one of the newest and largest versions of the Romanesque Revival style. The building at 741 W. Holly Avenue, built in 1929-30 and originally the Jewish Educational Center, is one of few Art Deco style buildings in the district. Another is the Minnesota Milk Company Building at 370-380 W. University Avenue, built in 1912 and remodeled in the Art Deco style in 1932.
Many of the buildings in the northwestern part of the district were built-in the opening decades of the twentieth century in the then popular Colonial Revival style. The St. Paul Academy, now the Apollo Center, built in 1903 at 25 N. Dale Street, was designed by Thomas Holyoke to look like a Colonial Revival style house. The most impressive and imaginative Colonial Revival style houses in the area include the house built in 1900 at 929 W. Hague Avenue; the house at 785 W. Dayton Avenue, built circa 1900; the Leonard Breher House built in 1909 at 928 W. Laurel Avenue; the Gideon S. Ives House built in 1903 at 625 W. Marshall Avenue; and the house built circa 1905 at 983 W. Laurel Avenue, in addition to the many houses built in this style along Summit Avenue and within the historic districts. Also popular during this period was the Tudor Revival style which was employed in the John R. Schmit House built in 1911 at 623 W. Fuller Avenue. During the second decade of the century, a handful of Prairie style houses were built, including the house at 116 N. Lexington Parkway, built circa 1915, and the George Alverdes House, built in 1919 at 633 W. Holly Avenue. One of the most spectacular examples of the early twentieth century Craftsman Bungalow style in the city is the Stuart L. Cameron House, built in 1911 at 130 N. Lexington Parkway.
Sumit – University Homes Information provided by: http://www.rchs.com/neighborhoods/summit_university.htm
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