Irvine Park

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St. Paul, MN
United States
Irvine Park

This 3.58-acre park gently slopes from east to west, framed with deciduous trees and a central fountain, a 1978 replica of the original cast. Once pasture, this one-block square is at the center of a neighborhood of stately homes, some of which are the city’s earliest frame and stone houses. Close to central downtown, the land was donated to the city by John Irvine in 1849 to create a small public square. Irvine then platted and sold residential parcels to prospective homeowners around the green. Minnesota’s first Governor Alexander Ramsey later built a large limestone house across from the park. In 1871, when the St. Paul Board of Park Commissioners was appointed, the land was graded and improvements made, including installation of a fountain and pool, laying of sidewalks, and the planting of small flowering trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants.

Over time, wealthy residents moved up the hill to the Summit Avenue area, and the neighborhood began a slow but steady decline. This was evidenced when the central fountain was removed in 1927 along with other fixtures, which were scrapped for metal. In the early 1970s, the city undertook a revitalization effort in collaboration with the neighborhood association and constructed a new gazebo, reconstructed the fountain and pool, and added new limestone walls at the corners. "Irvine Park" today refers to both the neighborhood and the park. The neighborhood was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 and designated a local historic district in 1981.