Worker Housing

A century ago the Rice Street area, especially between Atwater and Front, was a new and densely populated neighborhood. There were lots of rooming houses and many big families. Lyton Place today is a quiet, two-block street running east from Rice to Oakland Cemetery. In good weather you can find a few kids on bicycles or pausing in the park. Census takers in 1905 found 141 people living in just 23 households on those two blocks - 68 of them were 18 years of age or younger. Their names were Mulligan, Taack, Stinsky, Miller, Hollman, Guindon, Woods, Woodburn, Hancock, Leuzinger, Comer, Best, Martin, Douglas, Peterson, Johnson, Ordmann, and Howe -- mostly individuals from the British Isles with seasonings of Scandinavia, Germany, and Eastern Europe. Some of these houses (on the first block) are still there.

But on the next block east you will find something interestingly different. There, and around the corner on Sycamore, in the early 1990s the city took down three rows of degraded houses and replaced them with these that reflect, without re-creating, the styles of the era. After more than twenty years these houses remain attractive, an admirable feat of blending new housing with old.

Just a little roaming in this precinct pays off for this with the interest and imagination to see, in the mind’s eye, the neighborhood of a century ago. Cross Rice Street and try the adjacent streets of Woodbridge and Marion between Atwater and Milford. Strip away the new(er) siding and additions, and populate the streets with five of six kids per house. Add the occasional clatter of the streetcars on Rice Street, and you have the North End of 1910, when a street laborer could own a house and raise a family on his wages.

Nearby on Marion Street it is easy to see where clear-cutting of the old houses has taken place. This was the neighborhood where civil rights leader Roy Wilkins grew up, in the 1910s. His house is gone, replaced by the public housing across the street from Lewis Park.

Images

Aerial view of Rice Street area

Aerial view of Rice Street area

Looking west/northwest over the Rice Street area. Washington High School is near the center at 1041 Marion Street across from Rice Park. Photographer: St. Paul Dispatch & Pioneer Press Date: October, 1959 View File Details Page

Albemarle Street

Albemarle Street

Looking north from Milford Street to W. Wayzata Street near Lewis Park and St. Mary's Romanian Orthodox Church. Photographer: St. Paul Dispatch & Pioneer Press Date: 1969 View File Details Page

Rice Street looking north from Sycamore

Rice Street looking north from Sycamore

Installation of the sewer system on Rice and W. Sycamore. Pictured: Frank Heimes and Sons Groceries, and Herman W. Janssen Meat Market. Date: Approximately 1880 Image courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society View File Details Page

Playing marbles

Playing marbles

In the North End district. Photographer: St. Paul News Date: 1925 Image courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society View File Details Page

Lyton Place

Lyton Place

Present day view from Lyton Park. Date: June, 2013 Photo by: Kimmy Tanaka View File Details Page

Lyton Place

Lyton Place

Present day photo taken from W. Sycamore Street. Date: June, 2013 Photo by: Kimmy Tanaka View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Paul Nelson, “Worker Housing,” Saint Paul Historical, accessed April 25, 2017, http://saintpaulhistorical.com/items/show/101.

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