Dayton's Bluff

Our Historic Neighborhood in East St. Paul

We purchased our wonderful Craftsman Style house in Saint Paul's Dayton's Bluff neighborhood in 1985. The house was built in 1912 and features all of the wonderful details of so many homes of that era: dark oak woodwork, a beautiful fireplace. leaded glass and stained glass windows and more.

However, as is the case with so many of these wonderful old homes, it needed a lot of loving care and renovation to bring it back to what it once was.

The Dayton's Bluff Historic District was approved by the St. Paul City Council in August, 1992.

The creation of the Historic District recognizes the historical and architectural significance of this early St. Paul neighborhood and is an important part of our neighborhood's revitalization.

You can check out photos of some Dayton's Bluff history:

See some wonderful postcard views of Dayton's Bluff History

Photos of Dayton's Bluff and the Saint Paul Winter Carnival

The recent economic downturn has resulted in a number of foreclosed homes in Dayton's Bluff. The neighborhood is taking action to reverse this trend by sponsoring the Dayton's Bluff Vacant Homes Tour. You can download a PDF flyer with details of the tour.

The Dayton's Bluff Community Council is a citizen’s organization designed to encourage participation in, and awareness of, the Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood.

Dayton's Bluff is one of St. Paul's least discovered cultural resources. It began as a fashionable residential locale for the wealthy; it evolved in the early 1880s into a suburb of broad social and economic diversity.

The neighborhood included breweries and railroads and their workers. Some of the homes were the residences of famous early settlers of the area. Others were the homes of those who later went on to fame. Many of the original homes still stand today and have already celebrated their one-hundredth birthday. The current interest in the revitalization of Dayton's Bluff focuses largely on these fine older buildings which are the record of the area's long history.

Indian Mounds Park

Indian Mounds Park in Dayton's Bluff

Just a few blocks from our house is Indian Mounds Park. Around 2,000 years ago the mound builders came north, following the path of today's Mississippi River. Collectively referred to as "the Hopewell culture," these people were not just hunters following the herds. They planted and traded and had a developed a society with leaders and religious beliefs. They placed their dead along great river routes, burying them with a variety of artifacts.

Early excavators found grave compartments with remains and funeral offerings of shell, bear's teeth and copper arrowheads.

The 1980's saw the first major park restoration in many years. Using state and federal "Great River Road" funds, the city made improvements, such as restoration of the pavilion and removal of the road behind the mounds.

Picnic tables, rest rooms and a new children's play area were built across from the mounds. The Community Council also led a successful effort to place decorative fences around the mounds to protect them from visitors.

The 1980's also saw the first a of a series of neighborhood festivals in the park. They died out after a few summers, but this year a revival has begun. There is also a revival of the park. Partly as a response to the increase of joggers and bikers, major new trails and beautification of the bluff line has begun. The waterfall is gone, but travelers still come to view with awe the beauty and majesty of Mounds Park.

Few people, even many who live in Saint Paul, realize the historically significant treasure here in the Dayton's Bluff neighborhood.

Read a short history of Indian Mounds Park

Mounds Theatre

The Mounds Theatre Company is committed to the cultural enrichment of Saint Paul's ethnically and economically diverse East Side neighborhoods. They believe that performing arts should engage, challenge, stimulate, inspire, educate, reflect, empower and nourish artists, audiences and communities.

Following an extensive restoration that pays tribute to the theatre's original Art Deco style, the Mounds Theatre is once again a part of St. Paul's East Side community. Enjoy one of their quality theatrical productions, attend one of the many coming attractions, or rent the facility for a wedding, meeting, or your own performance.

Carvers Cave

Within Indian Mounds Park in St. Paul is a plaque memorializing Carvers Cave.

The plaque states:

Repeated attempts were made by French and British Explorers to discover a northwest passage. One of the most significant of these expeditions was conceived by Major Robert Rogers commandant of Fort Michilimackinac on Upper Lake Michigan and led by Jonathan Carver in 1766. Carver pushed westward from the fort into the Minnesota country reaching the Mississippi River in late autumn. On November 10, 1766 the explorer arrived at the foot of this bluff where he found "a remarkable cave of amazing depth." He tells us that it contained a lake and "many Indian hieroglyphicks which appear very ancient." The cave, he says, was called by the Sioux "Wakon-teebe" meaning Dwelling of the Great Spirit." In April, 1767, Carver returned to this spot with 300 Sioux, and here he took part in a great Indian Council. When he was asked to speak, the explorer warned the Indians in their own language against alliances with the French and attempted to impress them with the power of Great Britain. When Minnesota was settled Carver's Cave became a popular tourist attraction and was regarded a century ago as "the foremost relic of antiquity" in the region. Today only a debris-filled remnant of the once large cavern remains. It was destroyed by railroad construction about 1869.

Carver's Cave is one of the oldest and best known natural landmarks on the Upper Mississippi River. Its associations with Dakota tradition and culture, and with the discovery, exploration, and settlement of the region give it an added significance as a major historic site.

Swede Hollow

Swede Hollow has a rich history. During the 1880's there was a large influx of immigrants from Sweden. Many settled in Minnesota. By 1890, Minnesota had the largest population of Swedish immigrants in the country totaling about 60,000. Swede Hollow was a Swedish neighborhood and according to the 1905 census about 1000 immigrants lived in the Ravine.

They did not live in the beautiful Victorian homes, located above the ravine that are so plentiful in the area, they lived in small modest homes that I have heard described as shacks. They had no city water, or electricity right up to about 1950. They got their water from Phalen creek which runs through the ravine and feeds Lake Phalen.

In 1950 the city declared the area hazardous, the homes were razed and it became a dumping ground. Decades, and a lot of work. later it was cleaned up and is now Swede Hollow park.

The original woodland state has returned, the creek has been partially restored, and the entire valley is now part of the Bruce Vento Regional Trail.

Swede Hollow Cafe

The Swede Hollow Cafe is, of course, our favorite hangout since it is only a block from our house.

The cafe offers excellent coffee drinks, delicious breakfast items, wonderful soups and sandwiches, funky decor and a great atmosphere.

The wifi attracts students from nearby Metro State University as well as others who just need a quiet place to "compute."

Outdoor dining when weather permits, and the occasional offering of live music make the Swede Hollow Cafe a place to be.

Metro State University

Metro State University in Dayton's Bluff

Metropolitan State University is also within walking distance from my house! A few years ago I took a few classes just for the joy of learning.

Metro State was founded in 1971 as an upper-division university offering bachelor's degrees for working adults. Since then, it has achieved national prominence as an innovative, urban university that serves primarily older students of diverse backgrounds.

This award-winning university is an asset to the community and one more source of pride for residents of Dayton's Bluff.

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