MLK march
Hundreds of local residents and office holders joined in a tribute to slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. in January 2000. Following a rally at Central High School, they marched the half mile to Concordia University for a program. Leading the way were (from left) Saint Paul Police Chief William Finney, Mayor Norm Coleman, Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton and Senator Paul Wellstone. Photo by Brad Stauffer.

Conflicts over college campus expansions. Complaints about the shortage of parking on Grand Avenue and in Highland Village. Heated debates over new developments, traffic, airport noise and billboards. Elections, grand openings, festivals, mergers, fires, lawsuits, murders, a global pandemic, rioting….

The good, the bad and a lot of everything in between have been covered in the Highland Villager, Villager and now MyVillager since the neighborhood newspaper first began publishing in March 1953. The saying “the more things change, the more they stay the same” certainly applies when perusing the publication’s back issues. However, that’s not to say there haven’t been many changes as well.

Covers of the Highland Villager in 1953, the Villager in 2003 and the March 8, 2023, issue of MyVillager.

Here’s a look at some of the local news stories and other items of note that have appeared in these pages over the past 70 years:

1953 skaters
Sally and Joanne Keogh, Highland’s famous 19-year-old identical twins, were featured on the cover of the April 1953 issue of the Highland Villager. The former Saint Paul Figure Skating Club members had been traveling throughout the United States and Canada with the Ice Follies.


March—Plans were announced to make the Stonebridge mansion at 302 Woodlawn Ave. a residence for the governor. The mansion was later razed and the property subdivided for new single-family homes.

—Harold Shapira, owner of Highland Drug Center and Shapira’s Gifts, was elected the first president of the newly formed Highland Park Civic (later Business) Association. Other officers were vice president Paul Birkett of Hove’s Market, secretary Hart Cardozo of Cardozo’s Furniture and treasurer Richard Stevenson of Highland Park State Bank.

April—Color made its debut in the Highland Villager. The newly opened Cut Price Super Market was selling rib steaks for 49 cents a pound, frozen grape juice for 10 cents a can and salad dressing for 32 cents a quart.


April—Ford Motor Company announced it would donate more than 3 acres of land for the Highland Little League (now Highland Ball) fields at Montreal and Cleveland avenues.


house ad


December—Burglars caused extensive vandalism at Cretin High School (now Cretin-Derham Hall). The same burglars were suspected of breaking into the Nook across the street from the school.


May—The Macalester Flying Scots brought home the second-place trophy from the national collegiate air meet in Texas. Plans were submitted to establish a playground at Hillcrest Park.

The front-page photo in the July 1954 issue came with the kicker: Highland stores are air-conditioned. That was a big improvement from one of the country’s pioneer merchants with his primitive air-conditioned store. The photo was from a woodcut courtesy of Mr. A.M. Briggs of Raymer Hardware Co.


January—Skating contests and fireworks were planned in Highland Park for the Saint Paul Winter Carnival. Flannel-lined jeans were going for $2.49 a pair at Ralph’s Kladezee Department Store. The newly formed Highland Hockey Club had 150 boys participating.

May—Fifty students from Mattocks School took part in a citywide pageant celebrating the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Saint Paul school system.

November—A meeting was held at Saint Therese School on plans to extend the north-south runway of Wold-Chamberlain Field (now Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport). Lawsuits were filed by the Citizens Air Safety League to stop it.


September—The new $2 million Highland Park Junior High School opened to 738 students in grades 7-9.

November—The Highland Park Pavilion was completed.


January—A front-page photo showed families skating with the new warming house at Homecroft Playground in the background.

April—The Highland-Groveland Recreation Association held its first sports banquet at Highland Park Junior High School. More than 500 children and parents turned out.


May—Mendota Heights was added to the Highland Villager’s home-distribution area.

July—The 10th annual Fourth of July celebration was held in Highland Park, sponsored by the West End and Highland civic associations. The theme was “Stay off the highways and stay alive.”

November—A photo of “Pat the Talking Pig” appeared on the Villager’s front page. Pat hammed it up during the Highland Civic Association’s Thanksgiving luncheon with ventriloquist Alex Seymour.

1958 Highland Fling
The Kozatzke Dancers rehearsed for their Cossack Dance performance in September 1958 as part of the free outdoor Highland Fling Square Dance on Ford Parkway between Cleveland Avenue and Kenneth Street.
The $2 million Powers department store was heralded as an enormous boon to Highland Village when it opened in 1960.


January—A $30,000 warming house was completed at Hillcrest Playground.

March— The $2 million Powers department store opened in Highland Village.

June—The Highland Civic Association drew 140 people to its annual dinner-dance at Lee’s Village Inn.

September—The Highland Villager’s circulation increased to 30,000 with 8,000 homes added in Merriam Park and Minneapolis.


March—A $1 million addition to Nativity School included classrooms, library, kitchen, gym and game room.

April—A $200,000 educational wing was added to Immanuel Lutheran Church.

August—Field-Schlick opened a 12,500- square-foot department store at Cleveland and Pinehurst avenues.

November—You could buy a pumpkin pie for 70 cents at the Dutch Bakery on Cleveland Avenue. Powers was holding an 88-cent sale where you could buy everything from women’s gloves to infants’ toys.


July—The Highland Civic Association held its annual Circus Days, featuring carnival rides and a dog parade in Powers’ lot.

October—A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held for the reconstruction of Saint Paul Ave­nue.

1963 Little League
A crowd of spectators filled the field at Cleveland and Montreal as the Highland Little League season got underway in June 1963. The new senior division played their first game with the Dodgers beating the Twins 3-2. In the Major League, the Scots defeated the Chiefs 2-0 and the Hootmons dumped the Highlanders 6-3.


March—The relative tranquility of Highland Park was shattered when Carol Thompson was found murdered near her Hillcrest Avenue home. Her husband, prominent Saint Paul defense attorney T. Eugene Thompson, and two hitmen  who had been hired to commit the murder, were all sentenced to lengthy prison terms.

October—Plans were announced for the $9 million Olin Hall at Macalester College.


April—Groundbreaking was held for a $528,000 expansion at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church.

September—The $3 million Highland Park Senior High School opened with room for 1,600 students. The original one-room Mattocks School was moved from Randolph and Snelling avenues to the new high school. Work on the $1.5 million Jewish Community Center on Saint Paul Avenue was nearing completion.


April—A ground-blessing was held for the “ultra-modern” Saint Leo’s Catholic Church.

October—The Highland Villager featured a front-page photo of the Minnesota Twins with the headline “Will They Win It?” They did win the American League pennant, but not the World Series. The new $2.5 million Saint Thomas Academy in Mendota Heights was dedicated by the Reverend John Roach, the school’s headmaster.


July—A major expansion of Ford Motor Company’s Twin Cities Assembly Plant was announced. A 154,000-square-foot warehouse on Mississippi River Boulevard was to be constructed soon.

Highland Art Fair
Water colorist Kay Sharkey was pictured on the cover of the September 1968 issue of the Highland Villager preparing for the first Highland Art for Heart Fair on Ford Parkway and Cleveland Avenue.


April—The Highland Villager announced that it could no longer afford to be distributed for free because of the rising costs of postage and printing. Voluntary subscribers were asked to pay $3 annually. The following year the paper was converted to a mini-tab format to save on mailing costs.

October—Saint Paul was discussing the possibility of changing from a commission to a mayor/council form of government. The Wives of Saint Paul Schoolmen planned a fashion show from yesteryear.


June—Complaints over airplane noise were raised in Highland Park because of increasing traffic at Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport.

July—Highland Park State Bank moved to a new $220,000 building at the corner of Kenneth Street and Ford Parkway.

September—The first Highland Art Fair was held in Highland Village.


April—Contracts were awarded for the construction of two new residence halls at the College of Saint Catherine. Women’s and children’s tennis shoes were being sold for $3.77 a pair at the Village Bootery.

October—The Cleveland Avenue senior high-rise opened. More than 1,600 applicants were on a four-year waiting list to live there. Rents began at $33 a month.


May—Charlie McCarty and Bob North were vying for mayor of Saint Paul.

August—Albrecht’s merged its downtown Saint Paul and Highland Village stores in a building that had formerly housed the Jay’s and Rib Ranch restaurants on Cleveland and Eleanor avenues.

October—A U.S. postage stamp commemorating the 150th anniversary of Fort Snelling was issued. Ground was broken for an addition to the Temple of Aaron.

Ceremonies were held at Fort Snelling in October 1970 to celebrate the issuance of a postage stamp commemorating the fort's 150th anniversary.


March—The Highland Villager reverted back to a full-sized tabloid and mail distribution was replaced by carriers.

July—Highland Village merchants said a plan to close the Ford Bridge for repairs would ruin them. After a year-long debate, the bridge was kept open during reconstruction.

November—An open house was held for a $170,000 addition to the Merriam Park Community Center. Gas cost 32 cents a gallon at Highland Gulf Service.


August—RIP (Residents in Protest over) 35E held a forum on a plan to extend the freeway from I-94 to West Seventh Street. Summit Hill was among the neighborhoods that joined the fight.

October—The Marketeer, an interim-week shopper of the Highland Villager, was launched.

November—Pilot error was blamed for a plane crash that sheared off part of a home at 1392 Bayard Ave. Walter Vogt was parking his car in the garage at the time and was not hurt. His wife was inside the home and was slightly injured. The two occupants of the plane died.


January—Construction was set to begin on Twin City Federal Savings and Loan at Snelling and Randolph avenues. The site was occupied at the time by General Tire Store and now by Walgreens.

December—The Cut & Curl shop in Sibley Plaza was advertising hair cuts for $2.50. The Applebaums stores on Ford Parkway and in Sibley Plaza were selling skim milk for 79 cents a gallon.


June—Crime, traffic, taxes, airplane noise and education were the top five concerns of residents in a survey commissioned by the Highland-Groveland-Macalester Community Association.

September—Construction of a new $752,000 Highland Pool south of Montreal Avenue and the growing problem of Dutch elm disease were the topics of discussion at neighborhood meetings.

1974 Lucky Sales
Powers Department Store clerk Judy Nemer was decked out in costume while gearing up for Highland’s annual pre-Fourth of July Inside-Outside Sales in June 1974.


January—The new Highland Library held its grand opening.

April—Applebaums announced plans to build a 32,000-square-foot “superstore” on Ford Parkway.


April—Planned Parenthood of Minnesota purchased the building at 1965 Ford Pkwy., which had formerly housed Jimmy’s Restaurant, and announced it would be offering abortions for the first time. Haskell’s held the grand opening of its new Highland Village liquor store.

October—The College of Saint Thomas decided to go coed beginning in fall 1977.

November—Traeg Baldwin, 14, died tragically after leaving his Highland Park home after dinner. His body was found in a wooded area near Montreal and Cleveland avenues. He apparently had suffered a head injury while hopping off a train.


March—Planned Parenthood’s building on Ford Parkway was badly damaged by arson. No one was ever charged with the crime. A public hearing was set on the closing of Edgcumbe Elementary School.

December—Plans were completed for a joint-use Groveland School gymnasium and recreation center.


January—About 40 Highland Theatre patrons were forced to flee when a fire set by an arsonist broke out.

June—A groundbreaking ceremony was held for a $250,000 addition to the Merriam Park Community Center.


March—The Highland Shopping Center celebrated the arrival of Hoigaard’s, Dell Fabrics, and Village Home and Hardware. Independent bookstore owners fretted over the opening of B. Dalton in the Village.

April—The Saint Paul Health Department started a baiting program in Highland because of numerous complaints about rats, attributed to the large number of homes with garbage disposals.

lock and dam
A major renovation of the 50-year-old Lock and Dam No. 1 began in 1980.


February—A two-year rehabilitation of the 50-year-old Lock and Dam No. 1 began. A dishwasher at the Pantry on Ford Parkway believed a single person could live comfortably on her salary of $3.25 an hour.

July—The Saint Paul Public Library offered amnesty and received more than 20,000 overdue books. The longest overdue book was Zane Grey’s The Light of the Western Stars, which had been checked out  from the downtown library in 1925.

August—Discussion began on the demolition of Mattocks School on Palace Avenue. Neighbors were adamant that the school grounds be turned into a park. The building was razed in November.


July—The Southwest Area District Council was dissolved, leading to the creation of separate Macalester-Groveland and Highland district councils.

October—More than 1,000 friends of Our Lady of Good Counsel Free Cancer Home gathered to dedicate the new building in Merriam Park.


August—Pudge’s, a popular Ford Parkway watering hole, had its liquor license revoked by the City Council because of after-hours drinking, lewd antics by male dancers and drunken behavior of patrons.

November—DFL challenger Dick Cohen defeated IR incumbent John Drew by 14 votes in the District 64B House race. A recount revealed Cohen won by 102 votes.

bed races
Grand Old Day introduced bed races in 1981, the same year the Highland Villager moved into its offices on Snelling Avenue. Photo by Mike Long


March—With the closing of the Orpheum in downtown, the Highland and Grandview theaters were the only movie houses left in Saint Paul. They still are.

December—Developers announced plans to convert an auto showroom at Grand and Victoria into a shopping mall, similar to the previously converted auto showrooms at Victoria Crossing East and West. The Ford plant began constructing a $200 million paint facility and retooling its assembly line to produce Ranger trucks.


August—The Highland Art Fair was incorporated into the first Highland Fest.

November—Expansion of the city’s Watergate Marina was thrown overboard when operator Gary Svoboda made improvements without obtaining city permission. He was ordered to vacate the marina by April.


September—The $3 million Highland Village Plan resulted in new curbs and brick-inlaid sidewalks, center medians, sidewalk planters, buried power lines and hundreds of boulevard trees. A 7th-grader started a fire that caused $120,000 in damages to the Highland Park Secondary School Complex. Classes were suspended for two days to clean up.


February—Businesses filed an 11th-hour protest against the city over the cost of decorative lighting on Grand Avenue.

July—Plans for the Village Mall at Ford Parkway and Finn Street were resurrected. Neighbors believed developer Milton Cohen’s company was insensitive to their concerns.


February—A hearing was held on a permit that would establish new boundaries for the College of Saint Thomas campus, along with building height and setback requirements and a 10,000 enrollment cap.

March—Police arrested a 23-year-old man linked to 200 burglaries, many of them in Highland Park. An estimated $500,000 in stolen property was recovered from the home of a 51-year-old Highland woman who was acting as his fence.


May—An out-of-court settlement cleared the way for construction of the Village Mall on Ford Parkway and Finn Street. The following year a lawsuit alleged that the developers had defaulted on their loan. Midwest Federal later foreclosed on the troubled mall.

July—A controversial airport noise test  more than tripled the number of planes over Highland. The redistribution system was reinstated in 1990 and again sent more planes over the neighborhood.


February—Work began on a new 1.5-million gallon water tower in Highland Park, a near-twin to the tank to its south.

September—The Saint Paul Public Schools agreed to sell the former Edgcumbe School to the Talmud Torah. Neighbors filed suit to block the sale, but lost their case.

planned parenthood protest
Saint Paul police carried away a protester, one of 129 arrested during a massive rally against abortion in November 1988 outside Planned Parenthood’s Ford Parkway clinic. Photo by Mike Long
190 tire cleanup
Volunteer Swede Larson strolled out of the woods at Crosby Park in April 1990 with an abandoned tire, one of the largest and ugliest pieces of trash extracted during a citywide cleanup of Saint Paul’s parks. Photo by Mike Long.


June—Despite unseasonably cold weather, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev received a warm welcome when he swung by the governor’s mansion the same afternoon that Grand Old Day was being celebrated one block south.

September—The new Expo for Excellence Magnet School opened in the former Derham Hall building. Mary Kay McDonald, 69, was killed by a bus while crossing Ford Parkway and Cleveland Avenue.


March—Highland Park High School graduate Jack Morris became the newest member of the Minnesota Twins and helped lead the hometown team to victory in the World Series that fall.

October—Saint Paul geared up to celebrate the 150th anniversary of its naming. A Halloween blizzard brought the Twin Cities to a standstill with 28 inches of snow.


May—A temporary link between I-35E and Ayd Mill Road relieved traffic congestion caused by the closing of the Lafayette Bridge. Volunteers helped raise the Treasure Island Playground adjacent to Expo Magnet School.

November—Citizens successfully made enough waves at city budget hearings to save Oxford Pool from closing.


February—Macalester College approved an expansion that included larger athletic fields and the removal of college-owned homes in Tangletown.

April—The new Merriam Park Library opened after more than five years of planning.

June—Police erected an 8-foot-tall chain-link fence around the Planned Parenthood clinic in Highland Village in anticipation of massive protests by members of Operation Rescue.

November—The ribbon was cut to mark the opening of a new $3.5 million Selby Avenue Bridge. The old bridge had been closed to traffic since 1989.


March—Demolition of the Carson Pirie Scott building (formerly Powers) in Highland Village began to make way for the Highland Crossing retail strip and a new building for Highland Bank.

May—The College of Saint Catherine celebrated the opening of its new $7.35 million Butler Sports and Fitness Center.

June—The controversy over drinking beer on the street during Grand Old Day grew to such a pitch that organizers considered canceling the festival. A compromise solution allowed drinking in privately owned, fenced-in lots.

October—The grand opening of the $2.7 million Hillcrest Recreation Center was held. The Mendota Heights Bridge reopened after being closed for two years.


May—Old Country Buffet and Weight Watchers were the first of seven new shops to open in the second phase of Highland Crossing. Breadsmith, Video Update, Chesapeake Bagel, Trade Secret and Vision World shortly followed.

June—The Highland Park Library closed for a six-month, $665,000 expansion.

November—Lifetime Fitness opened its doors, marking the first business to begin operating in the long-vacant mall at Ford Parkway and Finn Street.


sewer separation
A section of concrete pipe was lowered in place on Grand Hill in April 1995 as the saga of sewer separation continued in Saint Paul. Photo by Mike Long.
1997 highland reservoir
The Saint Paul Water Utility led a contingent of curious residents and local officials on a tour of the cavernous Highland reservoir in April 1997. The 18-million-gallon vessel had been drained in an effort to determine why it was leaking more than 43,000 gallons a day. Photo by Mike Long.


January—Montgomery Ward’s 257-foot tower and 1-million-square-foot warehouse were imploded. A new, smaller Wards opened just south of the old tower. Odegard Books closed its Grand Avenue shop after 18 years of operation. The Talmud Torah of Saint Paul opened in the former Edgcumbe Elementary School. The Villager started off the year with a redesign that included dropping “Highland” from the nameplate.

May—The murders of two Highland Park residents left neighbors  struggling to comprehend what had happened to their relatively crime-free streets. Jack Weiss, 71, and Lorraine Miller, 73, were slain in separate incidents within a three-day period. The murders were the first in Highland since two clerks were killed during a robbery of Total Mart on West Seventh Street in 1992.


April—Rising flood waters forced the closing of the Saint Paul Yacht Club, Watergate Marina, Lock and Dam No. 1 and local parks on the Mississippi River. A tour inside Highland’s 18-million-gallon reservoir turned up no clues as to why it was leaking more than 43,000 gallons of water a day.

August—The City Council ended months of debate by approving a plan to paint a southbound bike lane on the west side of Mississippi River Boulevard.

September—U.S. Bancorp signed a 12-year lease to occupy more than half of the vacant Unisys plant on Shepard Road.



March—Ramsey County opened its newly expanded Highland Ice Arena. The $2.8 million facility was only the second of the county’s arena’s to be open year-round.

May—Straight line winds reaching 85 mph ravaged Highland Park. Five homes were condemned and many more were damaged. At least 2,700 trees were toppled across the city and more than 400,000 NSP customers lost power.


April—Meetings were held in the Merriam Park and Snelling-Hamline neighborhoods following a chemical emission at Cooperating Plating that forced the evacuation of more than two dozen homes and businesses.

June—The FBI arrested Highland Park resident Sara Jane Olson, aka Kathleen Soliah, on charges of possessing explosives and conspiring to kill police officers 25 years earlier in California when she was a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army.

July—Merriam Park resident John Bric was shot by two robbers while working on a trailer in back of his house. The assailants reportedly shot him because he only had 84 cents on him.

December—Saint Paul mailed out 125,000 brochures urging residents to prepare for the year 2000 as an impending natural disaster.

1988 storm
A car smashed by a fallen tree during Highland's superstorm in May 1998. Photo by Mike Long


April—Tony Basta, 17, of Macalester-Groveland was shot and killed while riding his bike on Mississippi River Boulevard. Three suspects were convicted in connection with the random shooting.

June—Neighbors began making a stink over emissions from the new Gopher State Ethanol plant on West Seventh Street.

October—A three-alarm blaze that heavily damaged four small businesses at 80 N. Snelling Ave. was started by a malfunctioning copy machine. Damage was estimated at $2.5 million.


April—The worst flooding in three decades closed Lock and Dam No. 1, Watergate Marina, the Pool and Yacht Club and  parks along the Mississippi River.

September—Long-awaited work on replacing the I-35E bridge over the Mississippi River began with clearing trees and constructing an access road to Crosby Farm Park. The $32.5 million project was expected to take four years to complete.

2001 river flooding
Sandy Zak of Allied Management stood on the steps of one of the last boats still left on blocks at Watergate Marina following flooding in April 2001. The swollen Mississippi washed well over the access road at left. Photo by Brad Stauffer.


May—Saint Paul Mayor Randy Kelly’s announcement of a year-long trial to connect Ayd Mill Road to I-35E caused an outcry in affected neighborhoods.

July—Minnesota Brewing Company closed its West Seventh plant, furloughing 101 employees.

August—Financing for the $4 million reconstruction of the Highland 18-hole Golf Course was approved. The redesigned course reopened in 2005.


May—First Federal Capital Bank announced its $78 million purchase of Liberty State Bank. The Scottish Country Fair held its last fling at Macalester College.

August—Residents scrambled to find new homes as demolition was set to begin on Gateway Village at West Seventh and Davern streets.

November—Fans got their first look at football under the lights at Highland Park High School’s newly reconstructed athletic fields.


May—The beleaguered Gopher State Ethanol plant was forced to shut down.

June—The $715 million Hiawatha line began operating in Minneapolis. The new driving range opened two months behind schedule at the redesigned Highland National Golf Course.

October—The College of Saint Catherine kicked off its year-long centennial celebration with the dedication of the $41 million Coeur de Catherine student center. The grand opening of the newly rebuilt Ford Bridge was held.

2005 Highland National
The redesigned Highland National Golf Course dazzled in its debut in April 2005, when it reopened following a two-year renovation. Photo by Brad Stauffer.


March—It was butts out on March 31 as a smoking ban went into effect at bars and restaurants in Ramsey County. By mid-March, the county had received 113 applications for exemptions from the ban.

April—After a two-year renovation, the 79-year-old Highland 18-hole golf course reopened as  Highland National.

June—Saint Peter’s Church, the state’s oldest Catholic parish, celebrated the opening of its new $6.9 million church and social hall in Mendota.


January—Grand Avenue lost its last independent drugstore with the closing of Bober Drug and Gifts, which sold its inventory and pharmaceutical records to CVS Pharmacy. The Guild of Catholic Women kicked off a year-long centennial celebration.

April—Ford Motor Company announced it would close its Twin Cities Assembly Plant in in Highland Park in 2008 as part of a companywide restructuring. The company later agreed to stay open until 2009 and then pushed the closing back again until 2011.

August—The Saint Paul Public Library’s new $9.3 million Rondo branch opened at University Avenue and Dale Street.


June—Highland’s new $1.3 million aquatics center held its grand opening. The Science Museum of Minnesota’s centennial celebration including the unveiling of 100 “Diggin’ Dinos” figures across the Twin Cities.

August—A new and improved Villager made its debut with a circulation of 60,000 and expansion into the Ramsey Hill and Summit-University neighborhoods.

October—Smoking had to be taken outside all bars and restaurants in the state as the Freedom to Breathe Act went into effect. The merger of the Merriam Park, Snelling-Hamline and Lexington-Hamline district councils became official, with the three groups renaming themselves Union Park the following spring.

2007 Highland Pool
Lynn Waldorf of Saint Paul Parks and Recreation tests the water flowing through Gertie the Goldfish, the new mascot of the renovated Highland Park Aquatic Center, 1840 Edgcumbe Road. A grand reopening was held in June 2007 to introduce the pool’s new amenities. Photo by Brad Stauffer.
The 570-foot-tall smokestack of Xcel Energy’s old High Bridge plant nears the ground after being imploded in June 2008. The new power plant is pictured in the background. Photo by Brad Stauffer


May—The new $19 million Oxford Community Center that houses the Jimmy Lee Recreation Center and Great River Water Park held its grand opening.

June—Saint Paul’s skyline lost a familiar feature when the 570-foot-tall smokestack of Xcel Energy’s old coal-fired High Bridge plant was imploded.

October—Construction began on a $10 million fire station on West Seventh Street and Randolph Avenue. Macalester College dedicated its new $45 million Leonard Center, which featured a pool, gym, fitness center and indoor track.


February—After more than a year of planning, Paster Enterprises received approval for its $40 million expansion of the Mendota Plaza Shopping Center.  Sholom Home East moved its entire Saint Paul operation to its new campus on West Seventh.

March—The Planning Commission voted on a campus expansion and parking plan to accommodate the new $14.5 million Sea Foam stadium at Concordia.

May—United Family Medicine opened its new $14.8 million Peter J. King Family Health Center at West Seventh Street and Randolph Avenue.

October—Macalester College dedicated its new $7.5 million Markim Hall that houses its Institute for Global Citizenship.

December—The first of Saint Paul’s 120,000 ash trees began coming down in Merriam Park to slow the spread of the emerald ash borer.


February—A gas explosion leveled a Highland Park residence after a sewer contractor ruptured a gas line that mistakenly had been laid through the sewer line. The homeowner and her dogs escaped without injury. The contractor was hospitalized with first-degree burns.

May—After 33 years in Highland Village, Planned Parenthood announced it would move to the Midway neighborhood in 2011.

October—In addition to celebrating the 100th anniversary of its founding in 1910, the Northern Star Council of the Boy Scouts of America celebrated the grand opening of its $9 million Base Camp at Fort Snelling.

February—After more than a year of planning, Paster Enterprises received approval for its $40 million expansion of the Mendota Plaza Shopping Center.  Sholom Home East moved its entire Saint Paul operation to its new campus on West Seventh.

March—The Planning Commission voted on a campus expansion and parking plan to accommodate the new $14.5 million Sea Foam stadium at Concordia.

river flooding
Casey Getten and Brooke Pope surveyed flood damage at the Pool and Yacht Club in Lilydale in 2010. The club had about 3 feet of water in its basement. Photo by Anne Brandrud

May—United Family Medicine opened its new $14.8 million Peter J. King Family Health Center at West Seventh Street and Randolph Avenue.

October—Macalester College dedicated its new $7.5 million Markim Hall that houses its Institute for Global Citizenship.

December—The first of Saint Paul’s 120,000 ash trees began coming down in Merriam Park to slow the spread of the emerald ash borer.

Hordes of customers and classic cars that were nearly as old as Porky’s turned out for one last hurrah in April 2011 at the University Avenue drive-in. Photo by Brad Stauffer


February—With Central Corridor light-rail construction scheduled to begin on University Avenue, many business owners were bracing for the loss of on-street parking and access, while others were planning to relocate or had already moved.

March—Two flood crests took their toll on Saint Paul’s riverfront parks.

April—After 58 years in business, Porky’s closed for good on University, but not before fans of the 1950s drive-in gave it a proper sendoff.

May—The West Seventh/Fort Road Federation closed on its purchase of about one-third of the 15-acre Schmidt Brewery property. The keys were turned over for the office building and rathskeller, keg house and a parking lot.

June—Expo volunteers pitched in to clean up damaged portions of the school’s Treasure Island playground that had been destroyed by arson.

December—Saint Paul bid farewell to Ford and its workers as the last of 6 million Rangers rolled off the line. The 86-year run of the Ford plant came to an end.


January—Tens of thousands of people turned out for the Red Bull Crashed Ice competition that sent more than 200 competitors careening down a sheet of ice near the Cathedral of St. Paul.

May—The Jimmy Lee Recreation Center lower fields reopened following the removal of contaminated soil and the installation of artificial turf. After 89 years of serving the poor, the elderly and the immigrants of St. Paul, the Franciscan Sisters closed their regional center in Highland Park

August—Saint Paul city officials approved a financing plan and land swap for a new $54 million, 7,000-seat Lowertown ballpark for the Saint Paul Saints. Nova Classical Academy opened its new $17.5 million K-12 building on West Seventh.

December—The neoclassical Union Depot reopened after a two-year, $243 million restoration intended to recapture the former glory of the 1920s landmark and pave the way for the building’s role as a regional transportation center.


January—The 89-year-old Saint Paul College of Visual Arts announced it would close at the end of the semester. Alumni, students and others unsuccessfully rallied to save the school. Its 1915 mansion on Summit Avenue reopened as the Davidson boutique hotel in early 2020.

February—The University of Saint Thomas named Julie Sullivan as its first layperson and woman to serve as president in its 128-year history.

May—Buildings started coming down at Ford Motor Company’s former Twin Cities Assembly Plant to make way for future development. A landslide killed two students hiking with classmates in the Brickyard area of Lilydale Regional Park.

ford plant
The Ford Motor Company’s former assembly plant in Highland Park was a random heap of refuse as it continued to be dismantled in 2013. Photo by Brad Stauffer
2014 green line opens
The light-rail Green Line was quite popular on opening day in June 2014. Photo by Brad Stauffer


March—The 1923 former Island Station power plant and its 289-foot smokestack were leveled by explosives on Randolph Avenue and Shepard Road. The 9.56-acre site was redeveloped as the Waterford Bay Apartments.

June—After 40 years of planning, the 11-mile light-rail Green Line between Minneapolis and Saint Paul held its grand opening. Around 107,000 free rides were taken during the opening weekend.

August—Thousands turned out for the funeral of Mendota Heights Police Officer Scott Patrick, 47, who was killed during a traffic stop.

November—The public got its first glimpse at the nearly $8 million renovation of the Highland Park Library and the renamed Highland Park Community Center


April—The Cathedral of Saint Paul marked the 100th anniversary of its dedication. Highland Park Senior High celebrated the 50-year anniversary of its first graduating class.

July—Local athletes showed their stuff at the 2015 National Senior Games at venues throughout the Twin Cities. Saint Peter’s of Mendota marked its 175th year as the oldest Catholic parish in the state. A downsized Target Express opened in Highland Village.

August—Safety concerns were being aired in the wake of a fatal shooting of a would-be teenage robber near the monument on Summit Avenue and Mississippi River Boulevard. Central High School embarked on its 150th year. Saint Paul Academy planned to  greet the new school year with a new $20 million performance hall.

September—A major debate revved up over installing parking meters on Grand Avenue. The proposal was shelved by Mayor Chris Coleman at the end of October.

Father and son Jim Fritz sr. and jr. of thr Wedding Shoppe held signs expressing their position on Grand Avenue parking meters at a public forum at William Mitchell College of Law in October 2015. Photo by Brad Stauffer

December—Saint Paul teachers threaten to strike over school discipline following the brutal beating of a Central High School teacher by a 16-year-old student.

Marvin Roger Anderson, Ronald Charles Buford and Leviticus Martin joined Valerie Castile in acknowledging the recent loss of her son, Philando Castile, at Rondo Days on July 16, 2016, which would have been his 33rd birthday. Castile was killed 10 days earlier during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights. Photo by Brad Stauffer


January—A $2.4 million redesign for downtown’s Rice Park was unveiled. The new $16.4 million Midway YMCA opened on University Avenue. A newly renovated and expanded Palace Community Center held its grand reopening.

March—After 3.5 years of planning and construction, Whole Foods Market opened a 45,000-square-foot store at Selby and Snelling avenues. The five-story building also included the Vintage on Selby apartments.

June—The A Line, Metro Transit’s first bus rapid transit line, opened for service on Snelling Avenue and Ford Parkway in Saint Paul, and 46th Street in Minneapolis.

July—Rondo Days held a salute to Philando Castile, a Central High grad and employee at James J. Hill School who was fatally shot during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights. A Saint Anthony police officer was charged with second-degree manslaughter in Castile’s death.


January—The Minnesota Capitol reopened to the public following a 3.5-year, $310 million restoration.

August—A gas explosion claimed the lives of two staff members, injured several others and caused a portion of a building to collapse at Minnehaha Academy’s Upper School in Minneapolis. The school began holding classes in Mendota Heights for grades 9-12 in September.

December—Sixty-five years after the last streetcar ran in the Twin Cities, the Riverview Corridor’s Policy Advisory Committee voted to make a streetcar line its preferred alternative for transit from downtown Saint Paul to Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport and the Mall of America. The City Council lent its support for the $2 billion plan the following March.


April—The Moose Country restaurant and River Bluffs strip mall on Highway 13 in Lilydale were set to close by the end of the month for redevelopment. The buildings were finally demolished in November 2022 and work began there on luxury apartments and condos.

May—District 197 voters approved a $117 million referendum to pay for renovation at all eight of its schools, including a new football stadium and track, new pool and other improvements at Sibley High.

October—Despite an ongoing legal challenge and two petitions calling for a referendum on its repeal, organized trash collection began for residents of all one- to four-unit residences in Saint Paul.


April—Minnesota United FC held its Major League Soccer home opener in the new 20,000-seat Allianz Field at Snelling and I-94. The game posed few problems, but locals quickly began seeking resident-only parking permits.

June—A last-minute surge of financial and volunteer support helped resurrect Grand Old Day after organizers had pulled the plug on it in April.

November—Saint Paul’s 13-month-old organized trash collection system remained in place after an attempt to repeal the program was defeated in a citywide referendum.


A Saint Paul firefighter trains a hose on University Avenue businesses just east of Snelling in May 2020 in the aftermath of riots across the Twin Cities in response to the death of George Floyd. Photo by Brad Stauffer


March—The Saint Paul Public Schools’ first teachers’ strike in 74 years ended after just four days. By mid-month all public schools in the state were ordered closed by the governor in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Distance learning, virtual meetings, working from home and wearing masks quickly became the norm.

April—The Villager began seeking readers’ donations in order to continue printing as the global pandemic caused a massive spike of unemployment and had the country on the brink of another recession. 

May—Scores of Saint Paul businesses on University and Grand avenues and in Highland Village were tallying the damage after four days of vandalism, arson and looting following the death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police.

July—Ryan Companies, master developer of the former Ford Motor Company assembly plant in Highland Park, unveiled Highland Bridge as the new name for the 122-acre site and new partners for redeveloping it during a virtual groundbreaking for the $1.3 billion project.


July—Sibley High School in Mendota Heights was renamed Two Rivers following a year-long process to distance the school from its affiliation with Minnesota’s first governor, whose legacy had come under increased scrutiny.

August—The Villager officially changed its name to MyVillager with the tagline “Know Your Neighborhood” as it continued to transition from a strictly free-distribution publication to paid memberships. The new name coincided with the company’s move in May to newly leased quarters in the office building at 241 S. Cleveland Ave.

October—A deadly gunfight took place at the Seventh Street Truck Park food hall and bar on the West End. With one person dead and 15 injured, it was believed to be the most serious mass shooting in Saint Paul’s history.

November—Several hundred students and supporters gathered in Highland Park High School’s courtyard during a walkout to demand action regarding faculty and other staff who they charged had made students feel sexualized and unsafe.


January—The University of Saint Thomas discussed plans to construct a new sports complex at Highland Bridge in Highland Park. It dropped plans for a hockey arena there in July and then announced in October that it was considering an on-campus hockey and basketball arena.

April—The Freedom House day shelter at 296 W. Seventh St. was preparing to close it doors. Since opening in January 2021, the shelter had drawn complaints over the criminal activity of its clients. It plans to reopen in the Red’s Savoy space at 421 E. Seventh St., and its previous space will be converted back into a fire station.

May—A new rent stabilization ordinance took effect in Saint Paul. Amendments quickly followed and took effect in January 2023. Even before then the city was ruling on appeals of rent increases above the 3 percent maximum allowed.

June—Almost 250 people attended a virtual meeting to review concepts for replacing Summit Avenue’s on-street bike lanes with an off-road bike and pedestrian trail. A draft plan was unveiled in October. Discussion on the plan, especially its impact on boulevard trees, continued.

Justus Ramsey House
A statue appeared to be watching over the Justus Ramsey House prior to its removal from Burger Moe’s patio on West Seventh Street in February 2023. Photo by John Wadell

September—Ramsey Middle School reopened as Hidden River after its namesake fell out of favor with students and staff. The following month, a $54 million renovation and expansion plan was unveiled to begin in the  summer of 2024.

November—A fight to save the historic Justus Ramsey House on West Seventh Street was picking up steam just prior to a demolition hearing. A city loan eventually saved the 1852 stone house, which was dismantled in February and stored for reassembly elsewhere at a later date.

DecemberMyVillager printed its last free version of the paper, while continuing to encourage readers to become members and join thousands of their neighbors who were now getting the paper delivered in their mailboxes and/or reading the stories online.

—Jane McClure & John Wadell


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