St. Anthony Park: a small-town community

by Robert Koch

Nestled alongside the St. Paul campus lies St. Anthony Park, an idyllic cottage community, where time stands still and University students coexist with owners of Victorian homes.
Anthropology senior Stephanie Ammend and graduate student Cory Swingen met two years ago while living in an area apartment building. Now, with their 6-month-old baby, Ammend and her fiancÇe fit well into the neighborhood.
“This is kind of the neighborhood of Volvo station wagons and picket fences,” Ammend said. “It’s quiet. I think there’s less crime than in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood — it’s quaint, it’s homier.”
The neighborhood has its founders to thank for its small-town charm. As early as 1873, when the area was still primarily an escape for city residents, designers laid out streets following the rolling landscape. Today, hills and valleys, winding streets, parks and stately oak trees complement the old homes.
And although industry has sprung up south of the railroad tracks, the core area either side of Como Avenue retains its original ambience.
Resident Amy King has seen most of those changes. She has lived in the Park since 1935, and her house appears in a centennial book honoring the community. For many of those years, King has rented to University students.
“I still hear from some of the students,” King said. “They call me ‘Dear Mom.'”
Aside from renting rooms and duplexes, students also live in any of the many apartment buildings east of Raymond Avenue. One-bedrooms start at $550 per month.
The neighborhood also has its commercial side. Residents and visitors alike flock to Milton Square at the corner of Como and Carter avenues. The half-timbered building, with its landscaped courtyard, is home to restaurants and shops. Further along Como Avenue atop a hill lies Luther Seminary.
By and large, however, even the commercial elements are a bit smaller. The library, the post office, the bank, bakery, book and hardware stores are dwarfed by some of the homes.
As attractive as Ammend and Swingen find the Park, their current apartment is quickly losing its appeal. The landlord, a management company, has neglected maintenance work and now plans to raise their rent from $850 to $980, Ammend said. Even if their lease was not up at the end of August, she added, they’d still leave.
Higher rent notwithstanding, the apartment will fill quickly, perhaps with students, maybe more parents.
“People in the neighborhood enjoy having students here because it really keeps a real vitality and variety to the neighborhood,” said Rose Gregoire, another homeowner. “But I think our primary concern is to keep it a residential neighborhood.”

Robert Koch welcomes comments at [email protected]