The mansion down the street: Bygone ‘castles’ of Capitol area of St. Paul
Take a stroll through the neighborhood directly north of the Capitol, and it’s hard to imagine the streets once showcased an amazing group of mansions that were largely built before the state government’s arrival. It turns out the Capitol wasn’t for many years the only castle on the hill.
That neighborhood, Capitol Heights — along with an area called Central Park and a section of College Avenue — all featured great homes that lasted from the 1850s to as late as the 1960s. Today largely filled by government and commercial office buildings, St. Peter, Cedar and Wabasha streets were once fashionable addresses.
“We’re so used to seeing the Capitol up there and thinking it must have always been like this, but some parts of the city have changed completely,” said well-known architectural historian and novelist Larry Millett. “Cities get made and remade over time, and the Capitol district is a particularly dramatic example of how a decision made in the 1890s to build a Capitol there ultimately transformed a whole square mile or more.”