The Old Court House

Ramsey County outgrew two courthouses between 1851 and 1932. There ain’t nobody alive who can remember the first one and only a precious few can still recall the imposing old pile of rock pictured here. Construction began on the second courthouse in 1885. At the time Ramsey County was growing by leaps and bounds. In 1880 the population was under 50,000. By the time this courthouse and city hall was completed, St. Paul was home to 140,000 souls. The building, designed by Dr. David Day, was dedicated on Monday May 6th, 1889. After a morning of speeches in the old court house, a crowd of 400 lawyers and judges marched to the “new” courthouse where they were addressed by Judge Wescott Wilkin, Henry Horn and Charles Flandrau. That evening a great banquet was held at the Ryan Hotel. Speeches and toasts kept the party going well past midnight. Five years later, judges, lawyers and a grand jury reported the new building was already antiquated and inconvenient. In 1920, St. Paul’s population had grown to 234,698. Seven years later plans were drawn up to replace the old court house. Over forty years later the city’s lawyers and judges lined up for another procession to a new 21-story, Art Deco, skyscraper courthouse. The older building at 4th and Wabasha was demolished in 1933.

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