Saint Paul's Payne-Phalen Highlights

Planning District 5, known as the Payne-Phalen neighborhood, is bounded by Interstate 35E on the west, the St. Paul city limits at Larpenteur Avenue on the north, the Burlington Northern railroad tracks on the east, and the Burlington Northern railroad tracks and District 4 on the south. District 5 is part of the “East Side” of St. Paul.

The Payne-Phalen neighborhood carries historical significance for the city of St. Paul, as it served as one of the first immigrant settlements in Minnesota's history. The first residents of Payne-Phalen were temporary settlers who lived in log cabins along the banks of Phalen Creek and Trout Brook, which used to make up the southwest boarder of District 5. These creeks were filled in after the Civil War by railroad companies. Beginning in the 1840's and 1850's, the creek ravines were settled by Swedish immigrants. The area was eventually occupied by a diverse array of people, including Irish, Italians, and Poles, in various shanties and shacks. None of the current buildings in this old section of Payne-Phalen were built before 1956, however, when the City of St. Paul condemned the area in order to demolish and rebuild it. The Phalen Creek valley also served as the site for several early industries in the area, one of the most famous being Hamm's Brewery, which is now Olympia Brewery.

The part of Payne-Phalen known as Railroad Island (because it is surrounded by railroad tracks) contains many of the oldest buildings found in District 5. Before the Civil War, this area contained the homes of some wealthy residents of Saint Paul. During the 1860's it was also settled by Swedes, Irish, and Italian immigrants. Within Railroad Island is the Benjamin Brunson House, one of the oldest documented houses standing in the city of Saint Paul. It is located at 485 Kenny Road and, built circa 1856, it is now a National Register and St. Paul Heritage Preservation Commission site.

Most of the architecture here is simpler and smaller than other Saint Paul neighborhoods, with few Victorians, Colonials and bungalows. Although many of the homes in Payne-Phalen have been altered over the years, there are still a few examples of Italianate, Queen Anne, and Colonial Revival styles, as well as a large number of Victorian patternbook houses. A large concentration of modest nineteenth century houses as well as larger woodframe and brick houses are located in Payne-Phalen. Two of the most substantial Victorian mansions are the Adolph Bloom house at 416 E. Mt. Ida Street and the Nels Okeson House at 686 N. Bradley Street. A brick Victorian fire station designed by St. Paul architect Havelock Hand and built in 1890 is located at 676 E. Bedford Street. There are also a few Victorian commercial buildings along Lower Payne Avenue. Payne-Phalen has many single family dwellings as well as multi-family homes.

Stores, banks, and businesses located along Payne Avenue and Arcade Street are housed in commercial buildings dating from about 1885 to 1920. Some of the commercial buildings on the 900 block of N. Payne Avenue are among the most architecturally significant in the Payne-Phalen neighborhood. Areas along Payne Avenue have been surveyed by the Ramsey County Historical Society as having potential to be named a historic district.

The northern and eastern sections of District 5 were settled largely after World War I. The area north of Maryland Avenue and east of Earl Street contains a large number of bungalows dating from the 1920's, and Period Revival, Prairie style, and undistinguished ranch style and suburban houses dating from the 1930's and 1940's. The 1872 vintage Hinkel-Sullivan House at 531 E. Brainerd Avenue, a National Register site, is one representative of the few Victorian homes in the northern portions of the Payne-Phalen neighborhood.

The Payne-Phalen neighborhood has several amenities to entertain year round. At Phalen Regional Park, there is a golf course and swimming beaches on the shores of Phalen Lake. There are also three miles worth of biking and running trails for use during the summer, which are also used for cross-country ski trails during the winter.

Payne-Phalen offers both neighborhood elementary schools and public magnet schools. Phalen Lake Elementary is the neighborhood school. St. Paul residents have the choice to send their children to magnet programs like Farnsworth Aerospace Magnet School. There are also both public and private middle and high schools from which residents may choose.

During 2005, the median sales price of a home in the Payne-Phalen neighborhood of Saint Paul was $177,675. This figure includes all single family homes, town homes, condos, and lofts. Since the year 2008 began, there has been an increase in new listings of over 23% compared to last year, according to the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors’ Market Update for 100 Twin Cities Communities. The prices of homes in this area have gone down significantly due to the ample supply of homes for sale here, which means that there are homes here which can be purchased at quite a bargain. Single family homes here start as low as $19,900 and climb to over $500,000.

Because of Payne-Phalen's deep history, the neighborhood is one of the most diverse, architecturally and socially. This diversity one aspect that residents say makes Payne-Phalen such a great neighborhood in which to live. With its entrenched history, affordability, and the effort which has gone into the redevelopment of Payne-Phalen, this neighborhood has been gaining in popularity with home buyers.

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