Saint Paul City Hall and Ramsey County Courthouse

Saint Paul City Hall And Ramsey County Courthouse
  1. About the Saint Paul City Hall and Ramsey County Courthouse in Saint Paul
    1. Building Catalogations
  2. Architect and team
  3. Architectural style
  4. Spaces and uses
  5. Structure and materials

The Saint Paul City Hall and Ramsey County Courthouse is an Art-deco skyscraper designed by Holabird & Root and built between 1930 and 1932, for a reported $4.00 million dollars, in Saint Paul, MN.

Its precise street address is 15 Kellogg Boulevard West, Saint Paul, MN. You can also find it on the map here.

The Saint Paul City Hall and Ramsey County Courthouse is a structure of significant importance both for the city of Saint Paul and the United States as a nation. The building embodies the distinctive characteristic features of the time in which it was built and the Art Deco style. Because of that, the Saint Paul City Hall and Ramsey County Courthouse was officially included in the National Register of Historic Places on February 11th 1983.

The building has been restored 2 times over the years to ensure its conservation and adaptation to the pass of time. The main restoration works happened in 1994 and 2023.

Building's timeline

Construction begins
1930
94
Construction completed
1932
92
Added to the NRHP
1983
41
a
Restoration
1994
30
b
Restoration
2023
1
years ago
2024
  1. 1989 to 1994 - Renovations involved a complete replacement of the building’s mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection systems and upgrades to the operating systems. The gold leaf ceiling in the main room was also restored. Eight new courtrooms and five new judge’s chambers were added, along with jury rooms and attorney/client interview rooms. The architect in charge was PCL Construction.
  2. 2023 - Roof and ductwork were replaced.

Architect and team

Holabird & Root was the architecture firm in charge of the architectural design. But there was also one other architect involved, as far as we know. We are talking about Thomas Ellerbe & Company.

The studio was founded in Chicago in 1880, and even though it has changed names several times, the firm has evolved and is still active more than a century later.

The firm has played an important role in shaping the skyline of the windy city, and in the overall development of modern architecture in the United States.

The studio has evolved and adapted to the passage of time, from its rise with the Art Deco movement, to embracing the Modern style, and currently introducing sustainability into their designs.

Holabird Root

Holabird & Root and the other architects already mentioned were in charge of the architectural design, however, architecture is a complex discipline involving many professionals from different fields, without whom this building would have not been possible. We will surely be leaving out a lot of names here, but here is a list of the people we do know also played their part in making the Saint Paul City Hall and Ramsey County Courthouse a reality:

  • Foley Brothers as the Main Contractor
  • Lee Lawrie, John W. Norton, and Albert Stewart as the collaborating Artist

Architectural Style

The Saint Paul City Hall and Ramsey County Courthouse can be categorized as an Art-deco building.

The Art Deco movement flourished during the 1920s and 1930s, with many historians marking the outbreak of World War II as its final decline. Even though a couple of decades might not seem as much, the Art Deco movement had a great impact on architecture, and it's widely represented in many American cities due to the development boom that happened during that time.

Art Deco marked the abandonment of traditional historicism and the embracement of modern living and the age of the machine. In architecture, that meant leaving behind the ornaments of Beux-Arts and Neo-Gothic buildings and instead favoring simplicity and visual impact through geometric shapes, clean lines, and symmetrical designs. Ornaments were still an important part of the design, but they became bold and lavish, and were often inspired by ancient cultures or industrial imagery, instead of nature.

The Saint Paul City Hall and Ramsey County Courthouse was completed in 1932, right when the Art Deco movement was at its peak, so it kind of went with the trend at that time.

Spaces & Uses

The Saint Paul City Hall and Ramsey County Courthouse reaches an architectural height of 259ft (79m). It has a total of 22 floors, which combined offer a total of 335,995 sqf (31,215m2) of usable space.

Ever since opening its doors to the public in 1932, the Saint Paul City Hall and Ramsey County Courthouse has mainly been used as Governmental space.

259ft (79m)

Materials & Structure

The Saint Paul City Hall and Ramsey County Courthouse uses a frame structure made of steel columns and concreete slabs.

A frame structure uses a combination of beams and columns to sustain the building's weight. The walls in this case are non-load bearing, which allows for more flexibility when distributing the interior spaces.

The facade is non-load bearing either, as it is common in frame structure type buildings.

From an aesthetic point of view, the facade features a three-story base with a central twenty-story tower that has further setbacks at its top. The Indiana limestone cladding was done in the American Perpendicular style, with a central area accented by thin vertical lines of windows and dark spandrels that give the building an elevated appearance. This verticality is emphasized even further by thin lines of metal that mark the window lines and shine when the sun light is reflected on them.

The primary entrances to City Hall on Third and Fourth Streets are decorative focal points on the exterior of the structure. On Fourth St entrance features a relief by sculptor Lee Lawrie. The lower three-story masses to the sides of the Fourth Street entrance also have limestone relief decorations that continue around the building at street level. The other main entrance on Third St is a three-story limestone proscenium-like projection from the main twenty-story tower.

Five glass doors topped by a silver glass screen and flanked by two limestone reliefs give access to the building.

Other materials found at the Saint Paul City Hall and Ramsey County Courthouse include, marble, used in different colors, white on the hallway floor, and blue Belgian and black on the three-story pillars, gold-leaf, found on the mirrors adorning the ceiling, and wood, found in exotic varieties such as Koa Hawaiian, Peroba Southern American, and Avodire West Africa.

Sources

  • npgallery.nps.gov