Friday, March 15, 2013

Some Grand Hotels In Old St. Paul

The Ryan Hotel (Wikimedia Commons)
When my mother was a college student in Minnesota back in the 1940s, one of the things she and her friends loved to do was to take a road trip into the city of St. Paul. I'm not sure which of the St. Paul MN hotels of that era were familiar to her but I've been learning about some of them as a way of visualizing what she might have seen and done there, as a young woman.

The Ryan Hotel was the first building to exceed six stories in height in downtown St. Paul when it was built in 1885 by Dennis Ryan. He was an Irish-born miner, only 28 years old in 1885, who had made his money as part owner of the Horn Silver Mine near Frisco, Utah. In the early 1880s he and the other owners sold the mine for six million dollars. So he had plenty of money to spare when building the hotel that bore his name. As you can see from the stereograph (this is a double image, as you probably know), it was a huge and magnificent building. Sadly, it was demolished in 1965.

The St. Paul Hotel (Wikimedia Commons)
Happily, the St. Paul Hotel at 350 Market Street remains to this day. Opened in 1910, it was designed by Reed and Stem, architects from New York who had also designed New York's Grand Central Terminal. It featured a garden on the roof and grand restaurants and even had a ballroom. I would like to think that my mother and her friends might have come here for afternoon tea or perhaps even for a St. Paul Sandwich.

The St. Paul Sandwich is a local delicacy that reflected the Swedish and Irish heritage of the city's original settlers, according to America Cooks (1949). The recipe is given there, as follows:


1 slice ham
1 slice onion
1 green pepper ring
1 small sweet pickle
1 egg, beaten
toast, lettuce, olives

Chop ham, onion, pepper, and pickle together, stir in egg, fry brown on both sides, serve on toast with lettuce and onion. The city of St. Paul was settled largely by Irish and Swedes, both of whom seem to have contributed to this combination sandwich. [America Cooks, 1949, pp 431-2]

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post; however, all the views and points are my own.


"Dennis Ryan, Miner and Capitalist of Old Time, Is Dead," The Morning Leader, Dec. 24, 1917, p. 9.
St. Paul Hotel history at Historic Hotels


Amanda said...

Thanks so much for highlighting the gorgeous hotels in my hometown, St. Paul. I never had the chance to see the Ryan Hotel, but the St Paul Hotel is still here and gorgeous as ever. It's one of those places you go to on super special occasions. I spent my wedding night there, and I've eaten in it's restaurant, the St Paul Grill, a couple of times, but I would love to have a chance to stay there when I have more of a chance to enjoy the hotel itself.

Marcheline said...

Yummy sandwich! 8-)

The 4th Stooge said...

I'm obviously late to the St. Paul party, but this St. Paul sandwich sounds very much like another St. Paul served in St. Louis (I think it's pretty much the only place you can get it) Chinese restaurants--or at least the fast-food type restaurants. The sandwiches are served on plain white sandwich bread with mayonnaise, of all things. My grandmother loved them, but the thought of white bread and mayonnaise...ugh. Shrimp fried rice, please!

Love the blog!