Historic Lowertown

Layers of history give Lowertown its unique appeal. The Saint Paul neighborhood that sprouted at the "Lower Landing" on the Mississippi River grew into a major warehouse and distribution center serving the entire Upper Midwest. Lowertown's railroad, manufacturing, and wholesaling companies expressed their sense of pride and permanence in the structures they erected nearly a century ago. In 1983 Lowertown was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, giving the area protection under the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. The next year, the City of Saint Paul created The Lowertown Heritage Preservation District. Thanks to restoration and adaptive use, Lowertown enjoys new vitality in the mix of commercial and residential activities that make up this urban village.

This tour begins in front of the Union Depot on Fourth Street between Sibley and Wacouta. Finish your tour by surveying the buildings in Lowertown as they preside over the banks of the Mississippi River. Modern air and automobile travelers miss the impressive view that greeted steamboat and rail passengers in the last century, but in the historical fabric of lowertown, they can still find evidence of the energy and enterprise that built Saint Paul.

Union Depot

(Depot Place) - 214 East Fourth Street (between Sibley and Wacouta) - - 1917-23, Charles S. Frost - Riverboat traffic gave Saint Paul its start, but with the railroads, the city grew into a major freight transfer center. By the early 1880s, more…

Railroad and Bank Building

(First Trust Center) - 176 East Fifth Street - (enter on Fourth between Jackson and Sibley) - 1914-16, Charles S. Frost - James J. Hill crowned his extraordinary career with a plan to build one office building for his Great Northern and…

Endicott Buildings

- 141 East Fourth Street - (between Robert and Jackson) and - 350 North Robert Street - (between Fourth and Fifth) - 1891, Cass Gilbert - Cass Gilbert, architect of the State Capitol, designed the Endicott Buildings as an arcade to wrap around…

Pioneer Building

- 340 North Robert Street - (at Fourth) - 1889, Solon Beman - The Pioneer Building's owner boasted on his stationery that the building stood "At the Business Heart of Saint Paul." The high value of land in the "100 percent…

Merchants National Bank

(McColl Building) - 366-68 jackson Street - (at Fifth) - 1892, Edward P. Bassford - When the Merchants National Bank opened in 1892, its two-story lobby attracted a great deal of attention. Public appreciation for the warm red stone and lively…

Noyes Brothers and Cutler Building

(Park Square Court) - 400 Sibley Street (at Sixth) - - 1886, 1889, 1906, J. Walter Stevens - Noyes Brothers and Cutler, importers and wholesale druggists, moved into their new five story building at Sixth and Sibley in 1886. Pharmacists mixed…

Konantz Saddlery Company Building

(Railroader Printing House) - 227-31 East Sixth Street (between Sibley and Wacouta) - - 1893, J. Walter Stevens - The Konantz Saddlery Company started making harness and saddles in Quincy, Illinois, in 1871. They opened a Saint Paul branch in…

Koehler and Hinrichs Company

(Stevens Building) - 235-37 East Sixth Street (at Wacouta) - - 1891, J. Walter Stevens - Koehler and Hinrichs established a wholesale house for butchers' and meat packers' supplies at Fourth and Saint Peter streets in 1884. This Sixth…

South side of Seventh Street

- 208-66 East Seventh Street (between Sibley and Wall) - - 1875-87 - The extroverted designs of the historic buildings on Seventh Street caught the attention of shoppers and workers riding the streetcars and farmers hauling produce along the…

First Baptist Church

- 499 Wacouta Street (at Ninth) - - 1875, William Boyington - (adapted by master builder Monroe Sheire) The First Baptist Church links Lowertown with its earliest history. The congregation built its first chapel in 1851 on a prominence called…

Wacouta Street Warehouse

(Gilbert Building) - 413 Wacouta Street (between Sixth and Seventh) - - 1893-94, Cass Gilbert - The Boston Northwest Realty Company saw great money-making potential in the commercial expansion of Saint Paul, Minneapolis, and Duluth in the early…

Finch, Van Slyck, and McConville Dry Goods Company

(Cosmopolitan Building) - 366 Wacouta Street (at Fifth) - -1911, James F. Denson, architect; C.A.P. Turner, engineer - -1923 addition, Clarence Johnston Jr., architect - Finch, Van Slyck, and McConville started as a dry goods store in 1856 and…

John Wann Building

(Spin Knits Fabric Company) - 350-64 Sibley (at Fifth) - - 1882, attributed to J. Walter Stevens - The buildings on the south side of Mears Park share many business connections. Noyes Brothers and Cutler rented the John Wann Building before…

Paul Gotzian Building

(American House) - 352 Wacouta Street (between Fourth and Fifth) - - 1895, Cass Gilbert - Adjacent buildings illustrate Cass Gilbert's commercial work in the 1890s. After nearly forty years of steady growth, Gotzian Shoe Company could afford…

J.H. Mahler Company

- 258-60 East Fifth Street (between Wacouta and Wall) - 1883 - This narrow storefront preserves the scale of Saint Paul buildings from the generation preceding the warehouses that dominate Lowertown today. Italianate details like the tall windows…

Crane Building

- 281-87 East Fifth Street (at Wall) - - 1904, Reed and Stem - In 1897, Crane and Ordway Company led the Northwest in the manufacture of valves, fittings, and supplies for steam engines. Their engines probably powered the hoists used in…

Tighe Building

(Market House) - 289 East Fifth Street (between Wall and Broadway) - - 1902, J. Walter Stevens - Like many others in Lowertown, this warehouse was built as a rental property with considerable unheated space for storage. Ambrose Tighe, who married…

Saint Paul Rubber Company

(Lowertown Commons) - 300 East Fourth Street (between Wall and Broadway) - - 1905 - Originally built for the Saint Paul Rubber Company, this building supported the tremendous weight of E. W. Honza Printing Company's presses and type for many…

Northern Pacific Railway Warehouse

(Northern Warehouse Building) - 308 Prince Street (at Broadway) - - 1907-08, Northern Pacific Railway Company - The Northern Pacific Railway completed construction to the West Coast in 1883. Thereafter, the line played a key role in supplying…

Griggs and Foster's F.O.K. Building

- 300 Broadway Street (at Kellogg) - -1894, Edward P. Bassford - Real estate investors financed this warehouse for use by Farwell, Ozmun, and Kirk, hardware wholesalers. At the turn of the century, F.O.K. salesmen canvassed a territory stretching…

Great Northern Building

(James J. Hill Office Building) - 281-99 East Kellogg Boulevard (between Wall and Broadway) - -1887, James Brodie - James J. Hill's success at building a railroad empire made him Saint Paul's most famous citizen. He earned his place in…

Wells Fargo Express Company

(Johnson's Service Station) -271 East Kellogg Boulevard (between Wacouta and Wall) - - 1907, J. Walter Stevens - Since before the Civil War, Wells Fargo expedited national parcel delivery in areas beyond the reach of railroads. By the time…