Welcome to the Stone Saloon!

The Stone Saloon is the oldest surviving saloon building in Minneapolis/St. Paul! Our careful restoration of this pre-Civil War time capsule is still in progress, so this site is just a taste of things to come. Bookmark us and check back once in a while. And if all goes according to plan, stop in someday for a tall drink of the past!

Milestone Celebration

Photo Caption: The Palmer House, which had been moved next to the Stone Saloon in 1897, rolls off to its new location at 41 Douglas two blocks away—revealing the full south view of the Stone Saloon for the first time in 118 years!

Dear Friends of the Stone Saloon:

On September 16, 2015, the Stone Saloon made new history by receiving St. Paul’s first-ever historic use variance.  Better yet, in this 6th and final public hearing since early August, the vote of the City Council was unanimous.

As my good friend and architect John Yust said when we first started on this project, "There’s no question this will happen; the only question is how painful it will be!"  At times it was plenty painful. But the enthusiasm and support you all provided—your letters, emails, public testimony and sympathetic ears—vastly outweighed any negatives.  A thousand thanks to you all!

Now that we’ve solved the zoning problem, we’re more revved up than ever to get this done. I can’t tell you how excited I am to open the doors to you someday, with full tanks of lager in the brew barn out back.  City plan review, licensing and a few other (non-lethal) hurdles come next, before we can begin construction in the spring, so I beg your patience. But at least it won’t be the nail-biting kind of waiting we’ve been through this summer.

Now about that party! I’d like to invite you all to a celebration at my house, 194 McBoal Street, St. Paul (near the intersection of Smith and West 7th, just a few feet from the Stone Saloon), on Sunday, October 11 from 3-7pm.  I’ll have beer, root beer and snacks, and feel free to bring anything else you like—weather permitting, I’ll have the grill going out back. We’ll have our plans and drawings on display, historic photographs and memorabilia. And for those of you who haven’t had chance to tour the Stone Saloon, it’s an easy walk from my house and I’ll be glad to give tours.

Hope to see you Sunday!
Tom Schroeder

Final City Council Hearing, Coming Soon!

Photo Caption: The 1874 Palmer House, which was moved from another location next to the Stone Saloon in June 1897, is ready to be moved again for restoration just 2 blocks away at 41 Douglas—reopening views of the Stone Saloon and its original side yard for the first time in 118 years!

Dear Friends of the Stone Saloon:

One final good news report in this slate of public hearings:  last Friday the St. Paul Planning Commission unanimously adopted the Zoning Committee’s findings and recommended approval of the historic use variance for the Stone Saloon!  

Thanks again to all of you who came out to show your support.  Your sustained emails, passionate testimony and physical presence at these several hearings has truly made all the difference to the success of the designation and HUV for the Stone Saloon.  With your help, here’s what we’ve accomplished in the last 45 days:  

  1. July 24—Planning Commission hearing on historic designation—unanimous approval
  2. Aug. 13—HPC hearing on historic designation and HUV—unanimous approval
  3. Aug. 27—Zoning Committee hearing on HUV—unanimous approval
  4. Sept. 2—City Council hearing on historic designation—unanimous approval
  5. Sept. 4—Planning Commission hearing on HUV—unanimous approval

The results make this look too easy.  But I can tell you as recently as six months ago some said this project could never happen.  The zoning was wrong, the building couldn’t be designated, no ordinance existed for “historic use variances”—and anyway, it wasn’t a “priority.”  No, this hasn’t been easy; these results were hard won by all of you.  THANK YOU!

So here we are:  FIVE hearings down—and only ONE TO GO!  The final—yes FINAL—public hearing on the Stone Saloon’s historic use variance is this next Wednesday, September 16th at 5:30pm, in the City Council Chambers at 15 W. Kellogg Street (enter through the Fourth Street entrance).  If you haven’t submitted your written support yet, please do so by emailing Bill Dermody, City Planner, prior to the hearing at Bill.Dermody@ci.stpaul.mn.us.  

Here’s the difference with the City Council hearing.  It’s the one that matters the most.  I know many of you have attended more than one of these hearings already.  I’m so very grateful to you.  But this marathon is about to end, and, to butcher my own metaphor, I need your help now more than ever to carry the Stone Saloon across the finish line!  

Bring a friend, tell a neighbor, call a history buff or entice a lager beer (or root beer!) fan.  When they call for anyone willing to speak in support, consider raising your hand or joining the cue.  This is it folks.  

And no matter what the result, the next message you’re going to get from me will be for the Hearings’ Over Party at the Stone Saloon (that’s HOPSS for short)! 

Thanks for making history come alive!
Tom Schroeder
(612) 385-8838

Zoning Approval! Now for the Planning Commission

Photo caption: Dad and I take a break from the Stone Saloon's interior restoration. The guy who originally inspired my love of history!

Dear Friends of the Stone Saloon:

Great news!—thanks again to your many kind emails and strong testimony at last Thursday’s hearing, the St. Paul Zoning Committee unanimously recommended approval of the historic use variance for the Stone Saloon, together with all of non-use variances we need to build the brew barn in back (i.e., rear and alley set-back variances).  

Just like at the HPC hearing on the 13th, your support at the Zoning Committee hearing was simply overwhelming.  Many of you wrote and/or testified passionately about your love of history, historic architecture, adaptive reuse, and of this wonderful, mixed-use urban community the Stone Saloon calls home.  A few spoke who I’d never met before (Bill Garvey, you were awesome!)  Clearly this humble but historic building has inspired friends and strangers alike—and I can’t tell you how much you’re all inspiring me!  

The next step?  I’ve said it before—these meetings are like running a marathon.  The Zoning Committee’s recommendation now goes to the full Planning Commission for review and (hopefully) approval this Friday, September 4th at 8:30am in City Hall Conference Center, 15 Kellogg Blvd West, Room 40 (enter the building from Fourth Street).  

I know many of you have attended one or both of the two prior hearings to-date.  I’m so very grateful you came.  But back to that marathon thing:  if you can, please help keep up the positive momentum by coming to the Planning Commission meeting on Sept. 4th!   The commissioners WILL take note, even if you choose not to speak.

Thanks everyone, and I promise to keep you posted!

Tom Schroeder
(612) 385-8838

Help the Stone Saloon pass the Zoning Committee Hearing!

Photo caption: Stone Saloon original 6-over-6 windows, 1937; now fully restored.

Dear Friend of the Stone Saloon:

Thanks again to everyone who emailed your support and/or attended the public hearing before the Saint Paul Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) on August 13.  Your response was absolutely overwhelming, and helped the Stone Saloon gain the unanimous approval of the HPC!

But this is a marathon, not a sprint.  We now go before the Zoning Committee for a public hearing this Thursday, August 27, at 3:30pm, in City Council Chamber, Room #300, City Hall, 15 Kellogg Blvd West (enter building from Fourth Street).  This next hearing is no less important than the HPC hearing.  The Zoning Committee will assess the project’s compatibility with the surrounding area, and consistency with the city’s comprehensive plan. This will be the final public hearing before the project goes before the City Council on September 16! (more on that in a future update.)

More than 50 of you attended the HPC public hearing on August 13th, and at least a dozen testified.  Whether or not you spoke, your presence made a huge difference.  This project is the first-ever application of St. Paul’s new "historic use variance," and Civil War Saloons don’t (re)open every day.  Just like the HPC, the Zoning Committee needs to see that this unprecedented project has public support.  So the Stone Saloon needs your help again by coming to the Zoning Committee hearing this Thursday!  

If you haven’t provided written support to the City already, please consider sending an email with your full name and address to the following:

After the Zoning Committee, our next stop is the Saint Paul Planning Commission on Friday, Sept. 4, at 8:30am (City Hall Conference Center Room 40, 15 Kellogg Boulevard West). No public testimony will be allowed at the Planning Commission meeting, but you can certainly help by attending this meeting also—and the silent support of your presence will be "heard"! 

Like I said, this is a marathon.  But we’re closer to the finish line than ever before.  Thanks again for helping to make the Stone Saloon dream a reality!

Tom Schroeder

Historic Use Variance Granted!

I can't thank you all enough for your tremendous show of support prior to the St. Paul Heritage Preservation Commission's August 13 hearing on our Historic Use Variance (HUV) for the Stone Saloon.  Scores of letters and emails poured in from the neighborhood, around the region and even two from overseas!  I couldn't be more pleased to announce that thanks in part to your help, the HPC unanimously supported both the historic designation of the Stone Saloon and the HUV!  The HUV now goes to Zoning Committee and Planning Commission before a final vote by City Council on September 16.  While we're not "home" yet, having the HPC's endorsement gives us a huge leg-up in the process to follow.

Thanks again for helping the Stone Saloon move from dream to reality--and stay tuned for more updates!

Best regards,

Renovation of St. Paul's oldest commercial structure nears the finish line

Tom Schroeder is aiming to accomplish a lot of firsts with his long-running effort to convert St. Paul’s oldest surviving commercial building into both a historical interpretive center and microbrewery/taproom.

Photo by Elizabeth Flores, Star Tribune

Two of the possible firsts include the first taproom in Minnesota to be incorporated as a “public benefit corporation” and the first Twin Cities microbrewery to concentrate solely on the time-consuming production of authentic traditional German lagers.

But to Schroeder — an attorney at the Minneapolis firm Faegre Baker Daniels as well as a historic preservationist and avid home brewer — the “first” he most cares about is the chance to transform his 158-year-old Anthony Waldman House into the Stone Saloon via the first implementation of a new city provision his project helped spur.

He and his wife, Ann, purchased the pre-Civil War limestone structure at 445 Smith Av. seven years ago and undertook painstaking work to restore its exterior. Next week, Schroeder faces a key test when the St. Paul Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) considers the building for official designation status. After that, he’ll seek a “historic use variance,” a first in St. Paul.

The Waldman House seems like a pretty good bet to win the HPC’s recommendation as a St. Paul heritage preservation site: Schroeder has made a convincing case that it is the oldest surviving building in the city originally built for a commercial purpose. His research shows German immigrant Anthony Waldman operated it as “lager saloon” from 1857 to 1863. It and four other limestone houses in the W. 7th Street neighborhood are being considered together under a thematic application.

Should that be approved, next on Thursday’s HPC agenda would be a vote to recommend approval of a historic use variance for the Waldman House under an ordinance passed in June that for the first time allows the original historic use of a structure in any zoning district — something that has been on the books in Minneapolis and other cities for years to encourage adaptive reuse.

“St. Paul didn’t have a historic use variance, and even though it was listed as an objective in the comprehensive plan for many years, for some reason it never happened,” he said. “When we started this project, we realized that was the ideal. We could do our project, plus give the city the gift of a new ordinance that would help other historic projects as well.”

Several more approvals, by the city planning commission and City Council, must follow, but gaining the HPC’s blessing on the variance is crucial and would give the Stone Saloon the momentum to attract financing.

To Schroeder the history buff, working with St. Paul Council Member David Thune, Mayor Chris Coleman’s office and neighbors to help establish a precedent in the city’s preservation regime is probably the ultimate reward. But to Schroeder the beer nerd, the real fun would be to build a 45-barrel-capacity brewery in a new, connected building. Its role would be to enhance a “time travel” experience back to 1857.

In re-creating an authentic St. Paul German lager saloon experience, Schroeder called on brewing consultant Bob DuVernois to recommend the best way to accomplish the very unusual goal of producing lagers using ingredients that would have been present in Minnesota during the territorial and Civil War period, such as two-row barley and German noble hops.

“The unique thing will be the use of horizontal rather than vertical fermentation tanks,” DuVernois said. “This is being done not only to efficiently use a small space, but also because it’s the best way to bring out the flavors of lager yeasts during the six-week process it requires.”

Don Jacobson is a St. Paul-based freelance writer. He can be contacted athotproperty.startribune@gmail.com.

The Stone Saloon needs you, now more than ever!

Dear Friend of the Stone Saloon:

You’re receiving this email because you’ve either registered on the Stone Saloon’s website, toured the building or are otherwise a “Friend of the Stone Saloon.”

The Stone Saloon needs you, now more than ever!

Please show your support by coming to the public hearing on August 13 at 5:00 p.m. before the St. Paul Heritage Preservation Commission (HPC) in City Hall Conference Center, Room 40, 15 Kellogg Blvd West (enter the building from Fourth Street).

At the hearing, the HPC will decide whether to recommend to the City Council:

  • the historic designation of the Stone Saloon (and four other small limestone houses); and
  • the granting of a “historic use variance” to allow the Stone Saloon to re-open as a historically-themed, Civil War era beer-only neighborhood tap house and microbrewery.

As you’ve seen from the website, I’ve lovingly restored this 1857 limestone building (and there’s more work to do). I’ve exhaustively researched its history, and worked two years to get it historically designated. Prompted by this project, the City Council passed a brand new historic variance process in June—which I hope will benefit not only the Stone Saloon, but other historic building re-uses across the city for years to come.

As that was happening, I worked with some of the best brewery designers in the region to design a unique, compact brew system, using horizontal fermenters that authentically replicate the German barrel-fermented lager brewing process. The brewery will be located in a new brewhouse sited behind the original buildings, along with a small kitchen that will allow us to serve a limited menu of artisan pretzels, meats, cheeses, etc. I have secured all required parking in an existing parking lot, off the historic site, and without adding any more blacktop to our neighborhood.

But before we can raise mugs together in this one-of-a-kind historic gathering spot, I need your help. THE HPC AND CITY COUNCIL NEED TO KNOW THAT YOU SUPPORT THE STONE SALOON! Please come to the public hearing to show your support on August 13, 5:00 p.m. in City Hall Conference Center Room 40, 15 Kellogg Blvd West (enter the building from Fourth Street). The Stone Saloon project is the only item on the agenda. Even if you say nothing at the hearing, your presence will speak volumes.

Or, if you can’t attend the hearing, please mail or email your support BEFORE August 13th to:

Amy Spong, Executive Director  
Heritage Preservation Commission
25 W. Fourth Street, Suite 1400
Saint Paul, MN 55102 

Very sincerely,

Tom Schroeder  
(612) 385-8838


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