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Both are suitably ornate reflections of the tastes of that period, when St.
Paul was flexing some civic muscle and building its first generation of skyscrapers. Paul City Hall and the Ramsey County Courthouse, proclaiming “1931” in highly stylized art deco lettering right in the limestone.
Maybe isn't quite the word, but I am talking about little assertions.
That’s why one of my favorite things to look for when walking around a city is the cornerstones on buildings, or foundation stones, or dedication stones, or whatever you want to call them.
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Paul rivals, and is long-defunct (though the name was recently revived by a bunch of cranks and is available in newspaper boxes all over downtown). Anyway, you hear these stories about the Globe Building and the Metropolitan, and you think, “How could they tear down all those wonderful old buildings? ” The Degree of Honor Building, I think, provides a clue into the contemporary mindset. It looks very "Star Trek," a bit of futurism compounded by the fact that it arrived a full half-decade before there even a "Star Trek." It looks like it belongs on the side of the Freedom 7, the craft that carried Alan Shepherd, the first American into the space, on May 5 of that year.
The other Pioneer Press Building claims 1955 in shiny black marble.
Before the Pioneer Press was here, this building was the home of the Minnesota Mutual Life Insurance Co.
Whoever chiseled that “1961” into the black marble face of the building was ready for the future. (In fact, here he is.) It’s also easy to imagine LBJ strutting into that office unannounced, belching and adjusting his crotch, and demanding, “Lawson, what in the hail’s the deal with that Courthouse Buildin’ in dahn-tahn Saint Paul? I’m sure LBJ had better things to do in 1966 then micromanage federal building projects in St. Underneath it reads, “Renovated 2008.” It’s hard to tell if that addendum was made in 2008, or if it’s an entirely new cornerstone fabricated to look like 1966.
In fact, the cornerstones you find after that time tend mostly to reflect the past, not the present.