Frogtown, like many other Saint Paul neighborhoods, grew along with the Twin Cities streetcar system during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Commercial corridors such as University Avenue were transformed after streetcar service began in 1890. That line soon became the busiest of the interurban streetcar lines. Frogtown residents were also served by streetcar lines on Rondo, Hamline and Thomas avenues, and Rice Street. Lines changed over the years. Today’s bus and planned light rail service mirrors many of the longtime streetcar lines.
The neighborhoods west of Dale Street filled in starting in the 1890s. Many Queen Anne, Eastlake, and Colonial Revival style homes remain here, with newer bungalows and a few Prairie-style homes west of Victoria Street. Lots here are slightly larger than in the neighborhood to the east. Note there are infill homes that have gone up over the years, so it’s not unusual to have several decades’ worth of homes on a single block.
A trip through this area reveals many existing Victorian-era working-class homes, with detailed window openings, porches and trim. Dwellings were 1 ½ to 2 stories tall. The larger homes are more grand than the smaller, simple frame and stick-style homes.
The area also has many of the city’s oldest wood, brick and block apartment buildings and duplexes, as well as many more converted corner stores, taverns, confectionaries and shops turned into housing. The neighborhood doesn’t have as many converted commercial buildings as the neighborhood east of Dale. But it does have mixed-use buildings that have been in place for more than a century, such as 741 Edmund Ave. and repurposed commercial/industrial buildings including 500 N. Grotto St.
There are also a number of historic duplexes and even a few original triplexes and fourplexes. Unlike conversions from single-family to multi-family, which accelerated during the post-World War II housing shortages, these homes were built to house more than one family.