Saint Paul City Hall - Ramsey County Courthouse, 15 Kellogg Boulevard West, Saint Paul, Minnesota
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Saint Paul City Hall - Ramsey County Courthouse
|Address:||15 Kellogg Boulevard W|
|Neighborhood/s:||Downtown, Saint Paul, Minnesota|
|Saint Paul, Minnesota|
|Ramsey County, Minnesota|
|Historic Function:||City hall|
|Other Historic Function:||City hall|
|Current Function:||City hall|
|Other Current Function:||City hall|
|Architect or source of design:||Holabird and Root, Chicago; Ellerbe and Company, Saint Paul|
|Material of Exterior Wall Covering:||Limestone|
|Material of Roof:||Asphalt|
|Notes:|| Lee Lowrie, entrance bas relief - 1941.
Carl Milles, God of Peace sculpture.
Memorial Hall measures 85 feet by 21 feet and extends upward for three stories. It is made with blue belgian marble, and has a gold mirror ceiling and at the focus of all this is a 36 feet high sculpture created by Swedish sculptor Carl Milles called the "God of Peace," which was later renamed "Vision of Peace." What is interesting about the memorial was that Carl Milles was a pacifist. This led to some problems with the city on just what a war memorial should be. Several of earlier submissions by Milles were rejected.
The Saint Paul City Hall–Ramsey County Courthouse is a splendid example of the rare use of Moderne styling on a public courthouse. More commonly found on locomotives, skyscrapers, roadside diners, and jukeboxes, Moderne was a later phase of Art Deco design, popular in America in the late 1920s and 1930s. It emphasized verticality, the use of setbacks and geometric forms to echo the machine age. Clad in Indiana limestone above a polished Wisconsin granite base, this courthouse is relatively unadorned on the exterior. Its richly detailed interior is resplendent with exotic wood finishes and Moderne artworks.
In 1928, a $4 million public bond was designated for the building. Because of the stock market crash of 1929, the cost of labor and materials was much less than anticipated. As a result, the building was finished with expensive domestic and foreign woods and marble, and artistic details. When word of the opulence reached the public, who was struggling through the depression, it was a tough public relations moment for City Hall. True to form they quickly put a patriotic spin on it saying that it was going to include a Memorial Hall, dedicated to the Ramsey County soldiers who died in the Great War (World War I).
The courthouse was the site of the 1933 trial of Roger Touhy, which took place on the eighth floor. The 1935 police corruption trials, sparked by wiretaps, occurred in the eleventh-floor courtrooms.
An addition, completed in 1993, was carefully designed to blend with the historic massing and materials of the original structure.
1968 Sit-In at Mayor's Office
On April 10, 1968, the office of St. Paul mayor Thomas Byrne was the site of a week-long sit-in by University of Minnesota staff and students. They protested the St. Paul police’s retention of three AR15 automatic rifles, the civilian version of the M16 rifle used in Vietnam. In the wake of Martin Luther King’s assassination and subsequent riots, protesters were concerned that these rifles would be used as riot control and to oppress minorities.
Mayor Byrne and the police department held that the rifles were to protect public safety and would only be used in extreme cases, with no plans for use against rioters. Protesters insisted that the police should return the weapons, as the city of Minneapolis had done earlier in the year, citing that the guns were inappropriate for police use.
65 people began sitting in the mayor’s reception room at 10:15 a.m. on April 10, including a few University of Minnesota faculty with their wives and children. A small group of demonstrators continued to peacefully occupy the room for several days with Mayor Byrne’s permission, and he also brought them coffee and donuts. The sit-in lasted through April 17 when the city decided to turn the rifle issue over to the St. Paul Civil and Human Rights commission for review. The conclusions of this commission are unknown, but as of 2011, the St. Paul police department regularly trains its officers in the use and operation of AR15 rifles.
Memories and stories