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!

Permits Issued, Construction Begins!

After three months of review by the City--including personnel in DSI's divisions of water, sewer, mechanical, code review, fire safety, parking and forestry, PED's zoning division and Heritage Preservation Commission, and a separate review by the Minnesota Department of Transportation--and after dozens of meetings, revisions, more revisions and more meetings--we finally have construction permits in hand and CONSTRUCTION HAS BEGUN!  A huge thanks to project architect John Yust for his patience and perseverance throughout this process, and to "Cool Hand Luke" Don Peltier of Pelco Construction, my general contractor who kept reassuring me that even though it was late October his crew could still get the rear addition and brew barn up before Christmas.  

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In fact, the footings and foundation are already complete, and within a week the carpenters will begin framing the brew barn that will house our state-of-the-art brew facility, sausage kitchen, rest rooms and second-story office. Friends and neighbors, please excuse our mess during construction--it's a tight space and we're doing our best to contain the disruption. Thanks to the Stone Saloon team and everyone at the City and MDOT who've helped us get here.  

Best regards,
Tom Schroeder

Pre-construction Archaeology

Not all history can be found in books, as the last month of backyard archaeology at the Stone Saloon has shown.  Knowing that our future brew barn would disturb ground inhabited by Europeans since at least the 1850s--and by Native Americans for a lot longer--we wanted to explore the site responsibly from an archaeological standpoint before construction began.  Dan Pratt of Arch3, LLC led a team of volunteer archaeologists including Sigrid Arnott, Mike Justin, Steve Sabatke and Dylan Eigenberger--and ably assisted by Dan's son Mason and daughter Thea. Metal detector-extraordinaire Jim Wisler, and Civil War historian and re-enactor John Taylor, his wife Jen, son Ethan and daughter Olivia also helped with artifact recovery, as did our multi-talented architect John Yust.

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Most of the finds were consistent with the site's 150+ years of residential use; but a single, tantalizing 5-cent brass beer token found five feet south of the stone structure could possibly be linked to the saloon's operation between 1857-1862. (Beer tokens were issued by many 19th century saloons and were commonly used for buying rounds.) The five privies on the site (yes, FIVE), yielded a wealth of artifacts ranging from barrel hoops, broken kerosene lampshades, broken clay pipes, patent medicine bottles, animal bones, porcelain marbles, an brown-glass inkwell, beer, soda and whiskey bottles, salt-glaze and other assorted crockery, cooking pots, dozens of small, white undergarment buttons, and (wait for it...) a lice comb.  The majority of the artifacts dated between 1868-1908, when the first indoor plumbing came to the site.  

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The most spectacular find came from the bottom of privy #3: a brass stencil of the kind used by merchants for painting their trade name on wooden boxes or barrels.  When we unfolded the crumpled, green-flaked mass of metal, it read, in bold cut-out letters: "A WALDMANN." Yes, the Stone Saloon's original owner.  Tom Braun, a materials archivist at the Minnesota Historical Society, has just finished flattening and restoring the stencil, which you can bet will be prominently displayed inside the Stone Saloon.  

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Thanks to all who helped document and preserve the Stone Saloon's subterranean history!  
Tom Schroeder

Stone Saloon gets financing!

Stone Saloon is pleased to announce that in August it secured SBA financing through Anchor Bank of St. Paul and SPEDCO, a nonprofit Certified Development Company (CDC) that originates SBA 504 loans in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin. Anchor Bank has partnered with a number of craft breweries in the Twin Cities and brings not only capital but a great deal of expertise to the table.  Honing the business plan and converting our dreams to spreadsheets was a healthy exercise for a project otherwise fueled by a passion for preserving the Twin Cities’ oldest (and only) surviving Civil War saloon. The Stone Saloon’s SBA loan and additional private capital will cover the costs of its rebuilt rear addition and two-story brew barn, commercial kitchen and 14 barrel brew system—but there’ll still be an opportunity later this year for others to chip in on special features to make this a one-of-a-kind space!
 

Stone Saloon, SBC is born!

In March 2016 the Stone Saloon officially came into being as “Stone Saloon, SBC”—the first brewery/tap room ever incorporated under Minnesota’s new Public Benefit Corporation Act (so far as we can tell).  Public benefit corporations can make a profit, but they’re also charged with serving the public good in some way.  The Stone Saloon’s mission is to give everyone the chance to explore history in a glass, on a plate, in a chair, at a table and in building that, collectively, speak volumes about the history of St. Paul and its people on the eve of the Civil War.  Great beer, fabulous food, social entrepreneurship—let’s do this!  Tom

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
612-385-8838
Thomas.S.Schroeder@gmail.com

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.

http://www.startribune.com/renovation-of-st-paul-s-oldest-commercial-structure-nears-the-finish-line/320960021/
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.

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