St. Paul’s historic Landmark Center began in 1892 was completed in 1902, originally served as the Federal Court House and Post Office for the Upper Midwest. The building was designed by Willoughby J. Edbrooke, who served as Supervising Architect of the U.S. Treasury Department in 1891-92, designing and organizing a body of public architecture, much of which, like this structure, was completed after his death (1896).
The exterior is pink granite ashlar with a hipped red tile roof, steeply pitched to shed St. Paul’s snows and enlivened by numerous turrets, gables and dormers with steeply peaked roofs; cylindrical corner towers with conical turrets occupy almost every change of projection. There are two massive towers, one of which houses a clock.
The interior features a five-story courtyard with skylight and rooms with 20-foot ceilings, appointed with marble and carved mahogany finishes. Its Richardsonian Romanesque is similar to the Old Post Office Building in Washington D.C.
The building cost $2.5 million to create. Time and official government tenants were not kind to the building. “The Post Office painted over the marble walls of the main entrance lobby with #102A government green and cut down marble wainscoting to install mailboxes. Brown linoleum covered the maple floors, crude tile replaced marble mosaic and fluorescent egg-crate ceiling fixtures replaced the handsome old metal lights that had been wired for both gas and electricity. Corrugated asbestos covered the Cortile skylight. The beautiful stained glass skylight in Courtroom 430 was roofed over on the outside and painted over on the inside.”
In 1972 a group of determined citizens saved the building from the wrecking ball and restored it to its previous grandeur. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and reopened to the public as Landmark Center in 1978. Today, Landmark Center serves as a cultural center for music, dance, theater, exhibitions, public forums, and hosts countless special events. Owned by Ramsey County, Landmark Center is managed by Minnesota Landmarks, a not-for-profit organization.
Landmark Center also houses Anita’s Cafe, Landmarket Gift Shop, five gallery spaces, and a number of St. Paul’s premier arts and culture organizations.