More Than Just a Building
Lowertown has been a vibrant part of Saint Paul. Originally the Lower Landing on the Mississippi River, served as the first port of access to the Twin Cities. In 1849, the land for Mears Park was donated to the City by Robert Smith and became a public square in 1888. In 1858 Minnesota became the 32nd state. In 1886, the Noyes and their partner Cutler, commissioned a building for their pharmaceutical business and paid architect J. Walter Stevens $110,000 for the building we are in today.
As business developed, so too did Lowertown. The success of Noyes & Cutler allowed them to expand the building and added the 3 window bays overlooking the park. At the time, the Noyes & Cutler building was the largest drug warehouse in the world. Throughout the 1900s the building was home to various businesses including the Woods Chocolate Factory.
Although it was not a lounge then, our lower level takes its design cues from the many storied Prohibition era. With the passage of the Volstead Act (launched by Andrew Volstead from Granite Falls, Minnesota) in 1919, Prohibition brought notorious gangsters to Saint Paul. A “handshake” agreement allowed the gangsters to live in peace in Saint Paul, if they agreed to commit crimes elsewhere.
1905 Construction on the Saint Paul Cathedral began.
1906 New bays added to Noyes & Cutler Building
1908 – 1911 F. Scott Fitzgerald attends school at Saint Paul Academy
1915 First Mass was celebrated in the Saint Paul Cathedral
1917 Construction on Union Depot began.
1919 F. Scott Fitzgerald celebrates “This Side of Paradise” publication by running into the street at 599 Summit Avenue.
The next great revitalization of Lowertown began in the 1960s. The area began to be developed for more residential and retail business. One of the first buildings to benefit and be converted into offices, retail shops and restaurant space was the Park Square Court Building.
As the revitalization of Lowertown continued, artists were drawn to the raw space lofts with exposed brick and high-ceilings. The local artist community helped attract developers who continued the development of the area to include residential living spaces. For a time in the 1970s, on the second floor of the then named Park Square Court building a small theater was used by Minnesota Public Radio to broadcast Garrison Keillor’s “A Prairie Home Companion”.
1974 Mears Park named for Norman Mears, an area businessman credited with helping revitalize Lowertown.
1975 Mears Park redesigned.
1978 Lowertown Redevelopment Corporation is founded.
1978 Amtrak leaves Union Depot.
1982 the Farmer’s Market moved to it’s current location.
1983 the area was added to the registry of National Historic Places.
The culmination of the redevelopment of Lowertown was realized in June of 2014. The renovation of the Union Depot was completed and Amtrak resumed passenger service. In addition, the Green Line began running and now connect downtown Saint Paul with downtown Minneapolis via light rail. Now, over 3500 residents live in Lowertown. PUBLIC kitchen + bar joins a diverse group of businesses and restaurants making the community as vibrant as it was in the 1800s.
1994 Schubert Theater changes name to The Fitzgerald Theater
2006 Lowertown Redevelopment Corporation disbands after $750 million investment and 2600 housing units created.
2007 Lowertown Future Fund is created to maintain the work of the LRC.
2007 Meritage opens
2009 Barrio Lowertown opens
2010 Heartland opens next to the Farmer’s Market
2012 Faces Mears Park opens
2015 Saint Paul Saints Stadium opens.