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Bedroom  at The Yards, South St. Paul, MN

Becoming South Saint Paul

Be a part of South St. Paul’s transformation and remarkable story. Live history while making your own at our notable location built on the Mississippi River bluffs across the street from the Stockyard Exchange Building. This National Historic Landmark once supported the largest stockyards in the United States, the city’s first post office and bank (Stockyards National Bank), and the first meeting place for the City Council. 

Experience historical views of the vibrant river and communities that built the Twin Cities

South St. Paul is Born

On March 2, 1887, South St. Paul broke away from West St. Paul Township. The state legislature quickly approved the charter established by a group of businessmen representing the new livestock industry. It was an easy decision since this area was technically South St. Paul.
he first shipment of cattle arrived from Montana on September 30, 1887.
That same year, the Stockyard Exchange Building was completed. The Union Stock Yards Company of Omaha built the building designed by Reed and Stem in Romanesque style. Other significant local designs by Reed and Stem are Wulling Hall on the University of Minnesota campus, the St. Paul Athletic Club, and the Saint Paul Hotel.  

By the early 1900s, the stockyards became "the United States largest stocker, feeder, and milch cow market...", and also with the development of meat packing in Minnesota, which "supplied dressed meat to a large part of the world." (7) Throughout time, the stockyards were home to four major meatpacking plants. Notably: Swift & Company (1897) and Armour and Company (1919).

 The success of the meatpacking plants attracted European immigrants looking for work. “Many German, Polish, and Romanian workers were recruited and took up residence in South St. Paul.” (5). Also, real estate mogul Charles Clark did much of the early 20th-century settling. The new beautiful city with river bluffs overlooking the river captivated people and businesses. It didn’t take long for the city to be thoroughly developed.  

The Beginning of a Diverse Community

The Kaposia band of the Mdewakanton Dakota Native Americans was the first to settle in the area known as Kaposia Village. The village consisted of approximately 20 lodges and nearly 100 Mdewakanton Dakota Native Americans, who were a peaceful, friendly tribe and open to the customs of the early settlers. An annual festival, Kaposia Days, continues today, bringing the community together to celebrate what the Mdewakanton Dakota tribe started. 

Around 1885, a wealthy man named Alpheus Beede Stickney purchased land along the Mississippi. The area was now called West St. Paul Township. Stickney, the Chicago Great Western Railway president, had plans to construct stockyards, creating a place for cattle to be fed, watered, and rested during layovers. The cattle arrived on trains shipped from the west on their way to the meat packing plants in Chicago. Stickney’s vision came to fruition in 1886 when the stockyards were organized. 

An Era Ends

The stockyards peaked during World War II, declined in the 1960s and 70s, and closed in 2008. During the 1960s, the city attempted a significant renovation project to Concord Street, resulting in 120 building teardowns and many job losses. “The Grand and Concord downtown came to an end with demolition and urban renewal in the 1970s, but it will never be forgotten by generations of South St. Paul residents.”(8)  

 South St. Paul was declared a federal disaster area. 

The Revival of South St. Paul 

The Stockyard Exchange Building was purchased by South St. Paul’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority in 1976. Then purchased by Colonial Properties in 1979, but there was a major flood shortly after due to vandals. Finally, in 1980, the building was placed on the National Register—the only structure in South St. Paul with that status. It is the only remaining architectural link to the city’s past.

In 1976, the first city festival, Kaposia Days, was held.

In 1988, the city raised 23 buildings and 47 acres of land development. The closed stockyards become green space, with a public boat launch and trail. The city is now home to over 70 businesses with major employers, including American Bottling, Sportsman's Guide, SSP School District No. 6, Stockyards Meat Packing Co., Twin City Bagels, and Waterous Company.

“South St. Paul was designated as an All-American City in 1990 and prides itself on a rich history of ethnic diversity and a strong work ethic.” (9)

The Stockyard Exchange Building operated as the Castle Hotel in 1998, but the owners went bankrupt after one year. “In October 2001, businessman Richard DeFoe purchased the building and shortly after opened Valentino’s nightclub and catering center on the main floor and TreVina restaurant on the lower level.” (4)

Today, the building is used as a wedding and special event center.

Enjoy all the historic spaces surrounding The Yards and The Backyards, including the Mississippi River, Dakota County Historical Society, Fred Lawshe Park, Kaposia Landing, and Fleming Field.

For more history and South St. Paul news, updates, and community events, visit the City of South St. Paul

A Peek Into The Past