Valentines Day – In the Mood for Romance?

Looking for fun ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your loved ones? Here are some ideas, ranging from the traditional – a lovely meal or dancing – to the unusual – snowshoeing or Victorian poetry, anyone?

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HDR – Sunken Garden Como Park Conservatory by Jucadima is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Enchanted Evening – A Valentine’s Dining Experience at the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory

Though February 14th is sold out, they’ve added a seating on the 13th for this romantic candlelit dinner among the indoor gardens of St. Paul’s lush conservatory. String music, limited wine and beer, and animal ambassadors will enhance your experience, as will the opportunity to bask in the humidity and warmth in the midst of a dry St. Paul February.

February 13, 2017, 8:00 pm
$170 per couple, all-inclusive.
Register online.

If you want to make Valentine’s a full day experience, or enjoy the atmosphere of the conservatory and have dinner elsewhere, there are other events during the day, including the Winter Flower Show, and a chance to meet the conservatory’s gardeners at 1:00.

Como Park Zoo & Conservatory
1225 Estabrook Drive, Saint Paul, MN 55103
651-487-8201
Winter Hours:  10-4

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Sleigh Ride by Bill Burris is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Three Rivers Park District Valentine Programs

Looking for something a little unusual to do with your loved ones? Maybe something outdoors? The Three Rivers Park District offers events ranging from Candlelit Trails to a Victorian Valentine’s Dinner to a Valentine’s Snowshoe Hike to a Lovebirds’ Local Foods Dinner and Sleigh Rides. All their events but one (which is sold out) are happening the weekend before Valentine’s Day, so you could choose off Three River’s menu and do something on the day, if you want to make an extravaganza of the holiday this year.

Three River Parks District is in Hennepin County, so a little bit of a drive from the B&B, but well worth it. Check out the webpage for more information on individual events.

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Big Bay Ballroom – Salsa Spice
by Port of San Diego is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Valentine’s Day Dance

“Love is in the air, so join us for a special night of ballroom dancing with The Dancers Studio Family! Includes complimentary glass of champagne at the door, dessert and cash bar throughout the evening.

“FREE Beginning Salsa Class @ 7:00pm

“Both singles and couples welcome!”

$15 per person
Purchase tickets online.

Dancers Studio
415 Pascal St. North, St. Paul, MN 55104
651-641-0777
info@dancersstudio.com

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James J. Hill House, circa 1895, courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society

Victorian Poetry Slam

“Celebrate Valentine’s Day the old-fashioned way by enjoying classic 19th century poetry in the James J. Hill House drawing room. Actors Craig Johnson, Laura Salveson and Ann Daly, wearing 1890s eveningwear, will perform a wide range of humorous and stirring poems by Dickinson, Poe, Longfellow, Browning and more dealing with love, romance, temperance, sports and war—even poems about James J. Hill! Audience members are also invited to bring a short Victorian poem to read aloud throughout the evening.”

Tue., Feb 14, 2017, 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
$12/$10 MNHS members

James J. Hill House
240 Summit Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55102
(7 blocks from the B&B.)
651-297-2555
hillhouse@mnhs.org

lgbt-lobby-day-2006OutFront justFair LGBT Lobby Day 2006 by Tony Webster is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Land of 10,000 Loves

“Historian Stewart Van Cleve blends oral history, archival narrative, newspaper accounts and fascinating illustrations to paint a remarkable picture of Minnesota’s queer history. Van Cleve will present from his book “Land of 10,000 Loves: A History of Queer Minnesota,” which explores the sacrifices, scandals and victories that have affected and continue to affect the lives of queer Minnesotans.

“Stewart Van Cleve is a former assistant curator of the Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies at the University of Minnesota.”

Tue., Feb 14, 2017, 10:30 am – 11:30 am
$5/$3 MNHS members

Minnesota History Center
345 W. Kellogg Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55102
(1.1 miles from the B&B, and easily busable.)
651-259-3015
boxoffice@mnhs.org

However you decide to spend Valentine’s Day, have fun, be safe, and celebrate all the love in your life.

All Hail the Minnesota Winter!

A signature St. Paul event is happening this week – the St. Paul Winter Carnival.

The Winter Carnival, a tradition since 1886, is the oldest winter festival in the U.S. It was a response by local business owners to newspaper reports that the cold made the state virtually uninhabitable, and was designed to show off the beauties, and fun, of a Minnesota winter.

Boreas

The legend of the Winter Carnival centers around King Boreas, God of the Winds, and the Queen of Snows, who are holding court in St. Paul. They’re challenged by Vulcanus Rex, the God of Fire, Boreas’ implacable enemy. Boreas proclaims Carnival in St. Paul for ten days, and on the final day Vulcanus Rex storms Boreas’ ice castle. Not wanting to incite violence, Boreas retreats back to Olympus to dwell among the other gods there, and waits for ice and snow to enrobe St. Paul again next year.

Winter Court

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This story is acted out every year, with the courts of King Boreas, his brother winds, their princesses, and court officials, and Vulcanus Rex and his followers, and proceeds with the proper pomp and ceremony.

Ice sculptures

Ice Palace

The nexus of the carnival is Rice Park, located downtown St. Paul, where the ice sculptures are carved and displayed. This year there’s also a mini ice palace, made of 400 blocks of ice, an ice bar, and live music. Elsewhere are parades, the Snow Park with all sorts of fun family activities, the Disc Golf Ice Bowl, a snow plow competition, a cat show, and a winter run.

Medallion

And then there’s the Treasure Hunt. Daily clues appear in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and if you decode them correctly they point the way to the medallion’s hiding place and a fair amount of money. Otherwise you get fresh air, exercise, and the joy of the hunt. This is a very popular tradition, with thousands of people participating and some very active online forums debating the minutiae of the clues. You can see evidence of the searchers’ enthusiasm in the missing piece of the Medallion above.

So come join the fun and help celebrate winter in Minnesota.

 

Published in: on February 1, 2016 at 6:54 am  Leave a Comment  
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Help the Twin Cities Celebrate Christmas

Here are some ideas to help the Twin Cities celebrate Christmas while you’re visiting the B&B.

A Victorian Christmas at the Alexander Ramsey House

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“Experience the sights, sounds and tastes of a Victorian Christmas in 1875. During the guided tour, guests can taste homemade cookies fresh from the wood burning stove, listen to popular holiday music of the era played on the family’s Steinway piano, and view original family ornaments and Christmas gifts. Discover how the Ramsey family and their friends, neighbors and servants prepared for and celebrated the Christmas season. Shop in the Carriage House gift store for replica Victorian ornaments and holiday items.

The 60-minute guided tours start every half hour with the last tour starting at 3:30 pm. A Victorian Christmas at the Ramsey House runs Wednesdays through Sundays Nov. 27, 2015-Jan. 3, 2016, except Dec. 25.

Cost:  $11 adults, $9 seniors and college students, $7 ages 6-17, $3 discount MNHS [Minnesota Historical Society] members. Get tickets online or call 651-259-3015” (1 mile from the B&B.)

Hill House Holidays

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“The bustle and excitement of a Gilded Age Christmas is brought to life as the servants of the James J. Hill House prepare for the holidays. Costumed actors portray people who worked for the Hill family in a dramatized portrayal of servant life and holiday preparations at the Hill family’s Summit Avenue mansion. The program moves through the elegant first floor spaces and then to the basement servant work areas. The script is based on letters and oral histories of people who worked for the Hill family during the first decade of the 20th century.

Tours leave every half hour, and Hill House Holidays runs Saturdays and Sundays from Dec. 5-27.

Cost:  $12 adults, $10 seniors and students, $8 ages 6-17, $2 discount MNHS [Minnesota Historical Society] members. Get tickets online or call 651-259-3015” (6 blocks from the B&B.)

Check the James J. Hill House website for other events, such as concerts and storytelling.

An Eventually Christmas:  Holidays at the Mill

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“Join the Ghost of Mill City Past for an intimate look at the 1920 Washburn Crosby holiday party in this unique play set in the museum’s Flour Tower elevator ride. Scenes unfold on different floors where the audience meets characters drawn from the pages of the company’s employee newspaper, the Eventually News. Witness the rocky romance of Celia and Otto; meet marketing mastermind Benjamin S. Bull; experience the awesome sweeping power of Bill Smith and learn the secret origin of the Washburn Crosby marketing slogan, “Eventually—Why Not Now?”

Performances are at 6, 7 and 8 pm. Recommended for ages 8 and older. Ticket includes museum admission and refreshments after the play.

$14 adults, $12 seniors and college students, $10 ages 6-17 and MNHS [Minnesota Historical Society] members, $2 off adult admission with Fringe Festival button. Get tickets online or call 651-259-3015”

At the Mill City Museum Dec 13, 17, 18, 19th. (8.7 miles from the B&B.)

The Christmas Carol on stage

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The nationally renowned Guthrie Theater is continuing its annual tradition of Dickens’ Christmas Carol. Check the website for more information and showtimes. (8.3 miles from the B&B.)

European Christmas Market

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“The European Christmas Market in St. Paul is based on the traditional, charming, and festive open air Christkindlmarkts that spring up in Germany, Austria and other countries during the Advent season. Shop for unique, handmade holiday gifts and decorations from local vendors, drink Glühwein (spiced mulled wine), and taste European inspired food and delicacies during the first two weekends in December:

Friday, December 4: 2 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Saturday, December 5: 10 am – 9 p.m.
Sunday, December 6: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Friday, December 11: 2 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Saturday, December 12: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Sunday, December 13: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.”

At Union Depot downtown St. Paul. (2.3 miles from the B&B.)

Christmas Concerts

Holiday Concert 2012 2
A listing of Christmas concerts happening all over the city.

Holiday Events from the St. Paul Pioneer Press

Zoo-Lights
A listing of events happening in the Twin Cities in December, many of them holiday themed.

 

Have a Little Jazz Age with Your Cocktail

An icon has returned to the neighborhood – the Commodore Bar & Restaurant.

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The Commodore opened in 1920 as a posh art deco residential hotel, which hosted such luminaries as F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald (who added their daughter, Scottie, and the novel “The Beautiful and Damned” to their family during their stays) and Sinclair Lewis, as well as gangsters Al Capone, John Dillinger, and Fred Barker. It was one of THE places to stay in St. Paul.

commodorepatio

Naturally, there were amenities to keep the guests in the style to which they were accustomed. These included a restaurant and an illegal speakeasy, which, on the repeal of Prohibition, became the Mirror Bar, designed by notable architect and Hollywood set designer Werner Wittkamp. Fred Barker’s mother, Ma Barker, met her son’s girlfriend there.

Commodore Fire

The building was gutted by a gas explosion/fire in February of 1978, and was remodeled into condos. Alas, there was no public eating or drinking space.

However, while the space was devastated, the bar itself somehow escaped damage; even its eponymous mirrors remained intact. After remodeling, the beautiful space could be rented for private events. In fact, one of Bill’s daughters had her wedding reception there.

Upper+Bar+7+10-05-15+(1)Lounge+5+10-05-15.

commodorediningroomthe-commodore-bar-restaurant

Now, after two years of renovation characterized by careful research and meticulous attention to detail, the space has been restored to its former Jazz Age glory. Full of warm light from glass chandeliers, black and white checkerboard floors, white leather, and stunning lines, the bar and restaurant offer a comfortable and cozy atmosphere and a feast for the eyes. Both food and drink are influenced by the 1920s and ‘30s, and many of the cocktail ingredients are locally sourced. The owners want to keep the prices reasonable, with the dinner menu topping out at about $30 for an entree. There are plans for live music and dancing, and the vibe is casually dressy and a little upscale, turning an evening out into an event.

Image with the piano copyright City Pages.

Published in: on December 5, 2015 at 9:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Highly Walkable Oasis of a Neighborhood

“We’re in the Ramsey Hill Historic District, a quiet and highly walkable oasis of beautiful old homes [and] gardens.”

We brag about our neighborhood, the Ramsey Hill Historic District, quite a bit here at the Cathedral Hill B&B. The above is a quote from our website, and today we’d like to show you some pictures that we think prove our claim.

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This is the corner of Holly and Mackubin, facing the block the B&B is on.

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A little further on you can see the B&B on the right, with the grand white porch.

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And this is across the street. Lots of beautiful trees with fall color, even on a gray day. And beautiful houses.

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This is the end of our block at Holly and Arundel. Posh condos on the right, and a really lovely example of a painted lady on the left. This house has windows that actually curve with the rounded bay window, and has diamond-paned windows that sparkle like anything in the sun.

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The next few photos are at the intersection of Portland, Western, and Summit Avenues, three blocks from the B&B. This corner features beautifully restored houses,

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and Nathan Hale Park, which has a skating rink and a spectacular light display in winter, thanks to the neighborhood association.

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Summit Avenue, marking the edge of the part of the city that’s oriented to the river instead of the cardinal directions, follows the bluff for a stunning view of the river and downtown.

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It was, and is again, the domain of the rich and famous of St. Paul, featuring the really grand houses, making up the longest continuous stretch of original Victorian housing in the US. And it’s only three blocks from the B&B. The dome you see peeking up there belongs to the Cathedral of St. Paul.

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It also has wide sidewalks and great trees,

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which offer plenty of shade in the summer and color in the fall.

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Not to mention fabulous leaf crunching opportunities.

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At Summit and Mackubin is a brick beauty, that was painted white when we moved into the neighborhood in 1978. Who knows what the owners were thinking?

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A block the other direction from the B&B is Ashland Ave.

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I think this color pops more because of the gray, not in spite of it.

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Gorgeous.

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A couple of blocks further north is Selby Avenue, once the place to eat, shop, and be seen, with its restaurants, shops,

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and stately Victorian commercial architecture. This building at Western Street, Blair Arcade, was once a residential hotel, The Angus, and somehow survived the urban renewal craze. It’s now condos, with a coffee shop, bookshop, restaurant, and salon among its commercial tenants.

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And finally, a further three blocks east, is Nina Street, one of the last brick-paved streets in the city.

I hope you enjoyed your walking tour. Come visit us and experience the neighborhood!

Published in: on October 31, 2015 at 10:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Open During Remodeling

Cathedral Hill B&B is proud to announce that we’re bringing the outside of our historic house back to its 1896 glory, complete with new porch and new paint. We’re very excited to have the outside of our B&B match its jewel box interior. The transformation should be completed before fall. 

Holly Ave, north side, c. 1900, tinted. From MN Historical Society Postman and children on Holly Ave, c.1890. From the MN Historical Society.

These are pictures of the north side of Holly Avenue around 1900. Our house is hidden in the trees on the left. As you can see, this has always been a well-to-do and quiet residential neighborhood.

The house was originally built by a banker and occupied by him and his family until sometime in the 1930’s. We speculate that the Depression ended the house’s tenure as a single-family dwelling.

488 Holly in c.1930s This picture of the house was taken in the late 1930’s or early 1940’s when it was a combination boarding (with meals)/rooming (without meals) house, as were many of the large Victorian houses in the neighborhood. We think this phase lasted from 1936-1971, through two owners, and was when the house was re-sided in a more modern fashion, and the original porch was replaced with a much smaller model. Both decisions were probably influenced by financial considerations.

The house changed hands again 1971, purchased this time by a commune, which called the building the Holly House. They did construction, worked at co-ops in the area, and did community work.

We bought the house in 1978 for our large family, and returned it to its origins as a single-family dwelling. It saw 7 children grow and leave, and the building of a number of thriving businesses. In 2003 it was reimagined into Cathedral Hill Bed & Breakfast.

488 Holly from the outside, C. 2003

Published in: on August 17, 2014 at 6:34 pm  Comments (2)  
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Why did we name our suite ‘Iminijaska’?

Iminijaska Suite bedroom from right Iminijaska Suite study - bookcase view

The area around St. Paul has been occupied for millennia; long before any European ever came to this continent. Delving back into explorer’s diaries, like those of Zebulon Pike (1805-7) and Stephen H. Long (1823), can give us a glimpse of life in those times, keeping in mind that that view is through foreign eyes.

The Iminijaska Suite’s name comes from those diaries and records. Iminijaska was the Dakota name for White Rock, located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers, probably where Fort Snelling is today. This was an ancient Dakota trading location.

There were various other names peppered around the St. Paul vicinity before it officially took on the name gifted by a Catholic missionary, many of which are still extant:

***Little Canada, named for the voyageurs and other French Canadian settlers, and currently a suburb north of St. Paul.

***Mendota is Dakota for “meeting of the waters.” Mendota and Mendota Heights villages are sited across the Mississippi from Fort Snelling.

***Fountain Cave, about 3 miles west of downtown, is often named as the birthplace of the city. That’s where Pig’s Eye Parrant, a French-Canadian fur trader, with vision in only one eye, set up his liquor trade, just outside the jurisdiction of Fort Snelling. He lost his claim in 1844, and moved on. Later the cave was a popular tourist attraction. It has since been walled up with the building of Shepard Road in the 1960’s,

***Pig’s Eye – As the first white settler in the area that became St. Paul, and being somewhat famous/infamous for his trade, the area was more or less named after Parrant. For a while, you could send and receive mail using Pig’s Eye as the address.

***Rev. Lucian Galtier, a Catholic missionary, was horrified (as were many people after him) that Pig’s Eye was not only the first citizen of the city, but also the source of its name. His Catholic chapel was dedicated Nov 1, 1841, and soon after the city was officially named St. Paul, after the chapel.

 

Sources and Further Reading:

The Expeditions of Zublon Montgomery Pike, P. 74-5, in the extensive footnotes.

https://archive.org/details/expeditionszebu00pikegoog

Fountain Cave

http://www.nps.gov/miss/planyourvisit/founcave.htm

Little Canada’s History

http://www.ci.little-canada.mn.us/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC={D701FD64-B65C-419C-A278-0865316155E8}&DE={A67E50F0-036D-4F3B-A86E-3F530F966237}

Mendota:  Walking in the Footsteps of History

http://www.cityofmendota.org/donations.html

Metis 1818-1820

http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~mnrrvn/Metis-1818-1820.html

Part of Metis History of Red River 1500-1899

http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~mnrrvn/Metis.html

Narrative of an expedition to the source of St. Peter’s river, Lake Winnepeek, Lake of the Woods, &c., performed in the year 1823, … under the command of Stephen H. Long

https://archive.org/details/narrativeofexped01keat

Pig’s Eye Parrant and Pig’s Eye, the city

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierre_Parrant

Sioux Research – Dakota, Lakota, Nakota

http://oyate1.proboards.com/thread/2488/dennis-robinson-family?page=1

Published in: on July 29, 2014 at 4:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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