The Justus Ramsey House: What not to do with historical buildings

Many residents of Saint Paul, Minnesota are familiar with the vibrant patio at Burger Moe’s, a sports-centric bar and restaurant located on West 7th Street. What they may not realize, however, is the small, unassuming, stone building dictated to be the “patio bar” or “clubhouse” is the oldest known house still standing in the city.

Justus Ramsey (older brother of popular Minnesotan figurehead, Alexander Ramsey) moved to Saint Paul in 1849 and purchased the two-room home for $60. Over time, the building has been used as a residence and a barber shop. Because of its age, the building has since been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. That being said, the exterior of registered historical buildings are obligated to be maintained in keeping with the integrity of the original design. Occasionally, the interior is also protected from modernized renovations. However, at 252 West 7th Street, the Justus Ramsey Building has been completely transformed into a gaudy splotch on the historic registry list that just screams “cabana boogie-woogie funhouse.” The trim around the roof and windows, as well as the entire door has been painted a bold pink. The interior has been gutted, stone work has been added and manipulated to make shelving space, a bar has been built to extend the length of the building, and the trim and large support beams have been painted the same bold pink as the exterior. At the very least, antique photographs do line the walls; and in the back corner, if one squints hard enough, the “National Registry of Historic Places” declaration can almost still be read on the dust-riddled plaque.

Liken it to the effects of history being pushed aside for capitalizing on potential business space, the Justus Ramsey House is a sad reminder that the future of experiencing history in the present through landmarks is threatened by, among many other things, fruity umbrella drinks.

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photograph of 252 W. 7th St. 55102. Date unknown.

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the exterior of the building as it exists today.

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the interior of the former two-room home.

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Justus Ramsey, former owner of 252 W. 7th.

(Note: Tragically, Justus Ramsey took his own life in 1881. To learn more about him and the Justus Ramsey House, please visit http://www.mnhs.org)

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cigarettes are soooo 1939

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My best friend, Cassie, is a fitness professional. When she was at my house last week, we started talking about how and why people develop a cigarette addiction. As we took a detailed trip back in time, Cassie was aghast to learn that cigarette advertisements used to include doctors (who apparently LOVE “Viceroys!”), medical recommendations, and overt oppressive discourse. During the birth of Rosie the Riveter, the feminist flagship image, Lucky Strikes was also producing images like this gem. Beloved reader, your eyes do not deceive you, this message, clearly geared towards the insecurities of women reads, “Is this you five years from now? When tempted to over-indulge, reach for a Lucky instead.” Women, why would you eat and whale around in a swimsuit when you could be enjoying the effects of unfiltered, toasted tobacco? If you haven’t been convinced yet, the “toasted” apparently means that it ‘protects your throat against irritation and cough’. Get at em, you skinny minis.

What are some of your favorite, or rage-inducing vintage ads?

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Barrel of Laughs!

October 25: Today, a senior Google Vice President broke the world record for an altitude jump by plummeting 135,890 feet. His bowels surely felt more at ease when his parachute did, in fact, open.

There is something about this day that creates more zeal in adventurous spirits. Or crazy people…you decide.

On this day in history, in 1901, a woman named Annie Edson Taylor was the first person (and not the last) to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel.

I’m just going to let that sink in.

A barrel.

Desperate for money, and with a penchant for fame, Ms. Taylor concocted her plan. Now, I am not one to judge, but perhaps I should be. Clearly, this is a very sane train of thought. I know when I find myself lacking bus fare, my mind immediately starts to think about ways I can use my barrel. Perhaps I can glide down the Mississippi river in January, or maybe get catapulted over the Wabasha Bridge during Fourth of July celebrations. My! That would be a hoot!

Fortunately, Ms. Taylor survived her fall. Unfortunately, no one really cared.

As I sit warm in my apartment drinking cocoa, covered in a blanky that my grandmother knitted me, I wonder: “who are these people?”

Share below any other fantastical stories and historical moments of people living la vida loca!

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