Torn down to be rebuilt – throwback Thursday

I wrote about the Justice Ramsey house a few weeks ago. The small limestone building was slated for demolition but has been saved.

Limestone house
Justus Ramsey house

Built from limestone in 1852 by Justus Ramsey, brother of Alexander Ramsey, who had been appointed Minnesota’s first territorial governor. There is no evidence that Justus ever lived in the house himself, opting instead to rent it out to fellow pioneers.

The house will be stored and then reconstructed on a vacant lot on West 7th street West of Randolph Ave.

Justice Ramsey house

The last time I walked by the site over the weekend the limestone was being loaded up and hauled away. Can this really be reconstructed?  It would have been nice if it could have remained on the original site.

History is an interesting topic. A lot of times the value and importance of a historic home is based on who currently owns it now or who owned it when it was new.  In most cases, limestone houses are preserved if at all possible.

Historic houses and old houses

In my line of work, it is always best to call old houses historic houses. In St. Paul most of the housing stock is historic. Many are small but some are large and have architectural features that we don’t see as much if at all in new construction.

The turret comes to mind. One of the best places to go turret hunting is in the Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood in St. Paul and winter is a great time to take pictures of them.

You will find turrets on Victorian and Queen Anne style Victorian homes built in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Houses with turrets can also be found in the Crocus Hill neighborhood, the Summit Hill neighborhood, the Capital heights neighborhood, and on the Westside.

Turret collage

The tiny bungalow kitchen

The kitchen is from one of those adorable 1920’s craftsman-style bungalows.  These houses were made or entertaining with beautiful dining rooms that have built-in buffets. They are usually small houses that are one to 1.5 stories and at the time they were built with simplicity and affordability in mind.

Often the kitchens in these homes are tiny as in 9 X 9 and they may have an old-style radiator under the one window and there isn’t any place to put the fridge except in that little space by the back entryway or the small hallway by the basement door.

This particular home has a small kitchen with little useable counter space but plenty of storage because the designer took advantage of the vertical space.


More often than not the kitchens in these homes can not be expanded but it is a trade-off and the people who love these homes buy them and come up with all sorts of creative ways to make the kitchen more user-friendly. In fact, several books have been written about these kitchens and how to make the most out of them.

They really don’t build houses the way they used to. Heck, small affordable houses are rarely built at all anymore.

What is a dormer?


My house has a dormer but it isn’t as fancy as this one. The house is a story and a half and without the dormer, the ceiling would not be very high in one of the bedrooms and it would be slanted. The dormer brings in light because of the windows which are a common feature found in dormers.

The one in the picture is extra fancy. We don’t build them like this anymore.

Sometimes less is more

Alexander Ramsey House
Alexander Ramsey House

Back in the 1870’s the Ramsey house probably only had one wreath on the door during the holidays. I like the simple decorations and they are all cordless.  The inside of the is decorated for the holidays too and there are tours and holiday events Throughout the holidays and even on Black Friday.

Alexander Ramsey was the first Governor of the Territory in 1849 and the only person from the Whig party to govern. He was appointed by the 12th president of the United States, Zachary Taylor.