Remnants of the Streetcar Era

All along Rice Street commercial buildings predominate, designed for profit, not for show. Between 1880 and 1925, both sides of the street from Sycamore to Maryland filled with storefronts and workplaces.

These were grocers, barbers and beauty shops, cleaners, cobblers, undertakers, taverns and an occasional professional office. Rice was a streetcar route (horsecars from 1880 to 1891 and electric cars from 1892 to 1953), and it developed accordingly. When people shopped on foot or by streetcar they could not travel fast or carry much, so businesses relied on small purchases from nearby patrons, hence the many corner grocers.

In 1930, there were twenty-four grocers, butchers, confectioners, and bakers operating along Rice Street between Atwater Street and Maryland Avenue (today there are three). Though less than half of the original commercial buildings still stand, Rice has few vacant lots or empty storefronts. The old buildings were mostly replaced with newer ones serving similar needs. The 1989 strip mall on the west side of Rice between Wayzata and Front Streets offers a vivid -- and, to some, horrifying -- contrast in commercial design to the original buildings nearby. The new apartments and storefronts on the east side, called The Winnipeg, between Atwater and Wayzata, on the other hand, capture some of the original flavor -- brick, built right up to the street, with cornices that salute the original cornices still visible on the older buildings.

The best place to catch a glimpse of the Rice Street of old is at the southern end, starting at Atwater Street and looking north. Here, nearer downtown, more old structures survived than on the northern stretches. These blocks were also home to some of Rice’s longest-lasting enterprises:

• 842 Rice Street (a well preserved Victorian commercial building) was the Caron-Fabre furniture store for more than forty years, and before that a sheet metal shop, a tavern, and a Goodwill second-hand furniture store.
• 843 Rice Street (built in 1922) was Kroemer’s Grocery from the 1920s into the 1960s.
• 849 Rice Street was Michael Sarafolean’s residence and barbershop from the 1920s into the 1960s. Sarafolean is a Romanian surname, and Michael himself is buried nearby in Oakland Cemetery.
• 855 Rice Street (built in 1889) was a Romanian rooming house during its early years, and later a mattress factory. In 1910 it was one of three such rooming houses near this corner, each operated by a small (Romanian) family and housing ten or eleven Romanian laborers working for railroads, city street crews, local foundries, or the nearby Crex Carpet factory. This is the best-restored building on Rice.
• 879 Rice Street was a drug store owned by Oscar Zandell for more than four decades. As of this writing (spring 2013) it is Ron’s Bar. [460]
• 900-904 Rice Street is linked to the story of Hillard Hoffman, an immigrant to St. Paul from the distant shores of Superior, Wisconsin. Hoffman started as a coppersmith and later became a hardware dealer. On this site he built a hardware store in 1889, and then tore it down to build the current building in 1914.The tenant at number 900 for forty years was the Bluebird movie theater (later called the Royal).

Images

Caron-Fabre Furniture store

Caron-Fabre Furniture store

Located at 842 Rice Street, the Victorian commercial building was the Caron-Fabre furniture store for more than forty years. Before that, it was a sheet metal shop, a tavern, and a Goodwill second-hand furniture store. Date: November, 1982 Image courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society View File Details Page

Caron-Fabre Furniture Store

Caron-Fabre Furniture Store

Present day photo. Date: April, 2013 Photo by: Kimmy Tanaka View File Details Page

Caron-Fabre Furniture Store

Caron-Fabre Furniture Store

Present day photo of sign. Date: April, 2013 Photo by: Kimmy Tanaka View File Details Page

Kroemer's Grocery

Kroemer's Grocery

Built in 1922, 843 Rice Street was Kroemer's Grocery from the 1920s into the 1960s. Today, it is the Unity Cafe. Date: April, 2013 Photo by: Kimmy Tanaka View File Details Page

Frank T. Byrne Grocery

Frank T. Byrne Grocery

When people shopped on foot or by streetcar, they could not travel fast or carry much, and therefore, businesses relied on small purchases from nearby patrons, hence the many corner grocers on Rice Street. Frank Byrne's Grocery was located at 1022 Rice Street. Date: November, 1937 Image courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society View File Details Page

Frank T. Byrne Grocery

Frank T. Byrne Grocery

The interior of Frank T. Byrne's grocery store at 1022 Rice Street. Date: January, 1930 Image courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society View File Details Page

"Bobtail" Horsecar 94

"Bobtail" Horsecar 94

The St. Paul City Railway Company. The sign on the car reads, "Rice Street to West St. Paul via Robert, Ducas and Concord Streets." Rice Street was a horsecar route from 1880 to 1891. Date: 1883 - 1889 Image courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society View File Details Page

Streetcar on Rice and University

Streetcar on Rice and University

Rice Street was a streetcar route from 1892 to 1953. Date: 1953 Image courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society View File Details Page

Rice and University

Rice and University

Looking north down University Avenue at the Rice and University intersection. Date: Approximately 1900 Image courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society View File Details Page

Rice and University

Rice and University

Date: Approximately 1932 Image courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society View File Details Page

Street dance at a carnival

Street dance at a carnival

Near Rice and University Photographer: Johnston Date: Approximately 1910 Image courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society View File Details Page

Tschida Bakery

Tschida Bakery

Henry and Caroline Tschida opened the store on 1116-1118 Rice Street in 1930, and the family ran it for nearly 50 years. Today, the building is home to Amore Shoes. Date: Approximately 1935 Image courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society View File Details Page

Former Tschida Bakery building

Former Tschida Bakery building

Tschida Bakery closed in May of 2012 after nearly eighty years of business on Rice Street. Today, the building is home to Amore Shoes. Date: April, 2013 Photo by: Kimmy Tanaka View File Details Page

Tschida Bakery interior

Tschida Bakery interior

Pictured: Caroline Gisch Tschida, Henry Tschida, and Marie E. Tschida. Date: Approximately 1929 Image courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society View File Details Page

Former barbershop

Former barbershop

Located at 849 Rice Street was Michael Sarafolean's residence and barbershop from the 1920s into the 1960s. Date: June, 2013 Photo by: Kimmy Tanaka View File Details Page

Former Romanian rooming house

Former Romanian rooming house

855 Rice Street was built in 1889 and was a Romanian rooming house during its early years, and later a mattress factory. In 1910 it was one of three such rooming houses near this corner, each operated by a small Romanian family and housing ten or eleven Romanian laborers working for railroads, city street crews, local foundries, or the nearby Crex Carpet factory. Date: June, 2013 Photo by: Kimmy Tanaka View File Details Page

Former drug store

Former drug store

879 Rice Street was a drug store owned by Oscar Zandell for more than four decades. Date: June, 2013 Photo by: Kimmy Tanaka View File Details Page

Rice Street

Rice Street

Photo by: Tony Andrea, East End Productions, 2013 View File Details Page

Cite this Page:

Paul Nelson, “Remnants of the Streetcar Era,” Saint Paul Historical, accessed May 23, 2017, http://saintpaulhistorical.com/items/show/91.

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