59-50 Irvine Park
Next, we will walk around the square and explore the histories of some of the historic homes of Irvine Park. They were built in a variety of styles and have lived long and sometimes interesting lives. These homes are lived in. Please keep that in mind as you enjoy the neighborhood. Let's begin with 59 Irvine Park, the turreted cream brick house at the park's northeast corner.
Backstory and Context
59 Irvine Park: BUILT HERE
Dr. Justus Ohage, a German immigrant and US Civil War veteran, built this Gothic Revival-style house (1889) for his wife Augusta and five children. He was an innovative surgeon and public health official who pushed St. Paul to adopt pure food and drug laws, compulsory vaccinations, and trash removal. Dr. Ohage also mortgaged this house to pay for construction of public baths for working class St. Paulites who lived in tenements without running water. Two of his children lived in the house until 1946. A year later the new owner subdivided it into rental apartments. Dr. Ohage's great-nephew restored the house and rebuilt the wooden tower in the 1980s, a century after his uncle had it constructed.
56 Irvine Park: TRANSPLANT
Scottish immigrant John McDonald built the VERY elaborate Italianate-style house (1871) four blocks away on Smith Avenue where the United Hospitals complex now stands. Preservationists moved it here via hydraulic lift truck in 1978. Neighborhood legend holds that movers left the house on the truck overnight and a member of the St. Paul Police Department gave it a parking ticket.
53 Irvine Park: TRANSPLANT
Built by a master carpenter who relocated here from New York, this 1853 brick home originally stood at the corner of Kellogg Boulevard and West 7th (Xcel Energy Center) at a time when those were the crossroads of life and commerce in St. Paul. Over the next century+ the house served as a hotel and a single family residence for other families. Preservation advocates saved the house from demolition and moved it here in the 1970's.
50 Irvine Park: BUILT HERE
This house (1869) originally faced away from the park toward the now-demolished Washington Street and a view of the river. When a transplanted lawyer, his wife and their eight children moved in (1881), they redesigned the house so that the front door faced away from the racket of industrial developement on the river toward the recently-improved park. Like many homes on the park, this one was divided into multiple units after the Great Depression made large homes unaffordable to most families (see 1972 photo).
NOTE: All of the original owners of the homes in Irvine Park were white.
Justus Ohage House, 59 Irvine Park, Saint Paul, Minnesota, Placeography. January 14th 2014. Accessed July 13th 2020. http://www.placeography.org/index.php/Justus_Ohage_House,_59_Irvine_Park,_Saint_Paul,_Minnesota.
National Park Service. Harriet Island, Harriet Island Regional Park. February 28th 2020. Accessed June 24th 2020.
Horn House, 50 Irvine Park, Saint Paul, Minnesota, Placeography. Accessed June 24th 2020. http://www.placeography.org/index.php/Horn_House%2C_50_Irvine_Park%2C_Saint_Paul%2C_Minnesota.
Eaton-Myler House, 53 Irvine Park, Saint Paul, Minnesota. Placeography. Accessed June 24th 2020. http://www.placeography.org/index.php/Eaton-Myler_House%2C_53_Irvine_Park%2C_Saint_Paul%2C_Minnesota.
John McDonald House, 56 Irvine Park, Saint Paul, Minnesota. Placeography. Accessed June 24th, 2020.
Millet, Larry. The AIA Guide to the Twin Cities (MNHS Press, 2006).
St. Paul Heritage Preservation Commission. Historical Context Study: Pioneer Houses: 1854-1880 (2001).