The Basilica of Saint Mary & Rice Park Receive Honors

Two of the Twin Cities’ oldest and most popular landmarks made headlines last week.

In Minneapolis, the Basilica of Saint Mary is recognized as one of the finest examples of Beaux Arts architecture in the country. The Basilica on Hennepin Avenue was constructed between 1907 and 1915 and was the first basilica in the United States. The Basilica was designed by Emmanuel Louis Masqueray (who just a year earlier began creating the Saint Paul Cathedral across the river).

Basilica of Saint Mary
Photo By Todd Buchanan


Last week, by popular vote on Facebook, The Basilica of Saint Mary was picked to receive a $110,000 grant from the Partners in Preservation program. The Basilica will use the money to repair, restore, and renovate its spaces, which are enjoyed by more than 12,000 congregants and the public. The Basilica is open for tours year round. For guided tours, meet beneath the pulpit after 9:30 and 11:30 Sunday morning Mass.

In other news, St. Paul’s Rice Park, which was established in 1849, was named one of America’s Top Great Places by the American Planning Association. The organization called out the park’s versatility and European feel. Surrounded by iconic structures, including the Landmark Center (est. 1902), The Saint Paul Hotel (est. 1910) and the James J. Hill Reference Library (est. 1917), the park has undergone many changes. Once used as a place to dry laundry and graze animals, it’s now a place for relaxation, nourishment (food trucks gather near here in the warmer months) and celebration. In the winter, the park features a giant lighted tree a la Rockefeller Center, an ice-skating rink, and at the end of January is home base for the St. Paul Winter Carnival.

Visitors can spot the bronze Peanuts statues in tribute to local resident Charles Schulz as well as statues of other famous St. Paul residents like F. Scott Fitzgerald and 1980 Olympic hockey coach Herb Brooks. The park’s centerpiece is a statue and large fountain designed by Wisconsin artist Alonzo Hauser. Learn more about the history of Rice Park in this clever video courtesy of the City of St. Paul: