St. Paul's historic Justus Ramsey House is coming down. Slowly.

Construction work around an old stone house
Construction contactors were taking apart the Justus Ramsey House along West Seventh Street in St. Paul on Tuesday to save the historic 19th century stone building. The property owner, Moe Sharif, sought to demolish the home that stands on the patio of the Burger Moe's restaurant. A deal with the city and historic preservationists aims to dismantle and relocate the house.
Tim Nelson | MPR News

The 171-year-old stone house at the center of a preservation battle with a St. Paul restauranteur is coming down.

But in a good way: After a careful laser scan to record its dimensions and shape, a contractor is disassembling the pioneer-era Justus Ramsey House, stacking it on pallets and hauling it away, likely to rise again somewhere else.

Moe Sharifkhani, owner of Burger Moe’s, a restaurant next door, had applied to demolish the building — which sits in one corner of the restaurant’s outdoor patio — amid concerns it could collapse. Just a few blocks from the Xcel Energy Center, the area has seem some of the most intense real estate development in the city.

A representative for Sharifkhani did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

Create a More Connected Minnesota

MPR News is your trusted resource for the news you need. With your support, MPR News brings accessible, courageous journalism and authentic conversation to everyone - free of paywalls and barriers. Your gift makes a difference.

Preservationists, noting the building’s connection to the brother of one-time Minnesota Gov. Alexander Ramsey as well as the city’s early Black community, wanted to preserve the building and sought historic protection for the structure, dating back to Minnesota’s territorial days.

A stone building sits on a property.
The Justus Ramsey House is surrounded by caution tape on Jan. 24.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News file

“There are only five of these buildings left in the city. They’re solid masonry structures, they haven’t been built since the 1880s in this town, and they’re increasingly rare,” said Tom Schroeder, an attorney and owner of the Waldmann Brewery, located in another historic stone building a few blocks away. He helped the push to save the Justus Ramsey House.

“They bring us back to an era of high craftsmanship and rare skills and local materials. And they create spaces that are wonderfully human and intimate, that aren’t being duplicated any longer. They’re really special places, and I’m glad that we can save them,” Schroeder said.

St. Paul City Council members, acting as the city’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority, contributed public money toward the cost of deconstructing and storing the house. Council members initially approved $84,000 in January, before it was lowered to $34,000 following updated cost estimates for the work.

Schroeder noted that Sharifkhani, the building owner, had also contributed financially to the deconstruction work.

Schroeder said the building is being boxed up and palletized, and will be trucked to a suburban storage yard to await its next incarnation. He said Historic St. Paul, a nonprofit preservation group, and the neighborhood’s Fort Road Federation will be soliciting proposals for what to do with the structure next.

Schroeder was also one of the attorneys behind efforts to save the nearby Hope Engine House, one of the oldest surviving municipal buildings in St. Paul. It’s now home to the Hope Breakfast Bar near West Seventh Street and Grand Avenue, near Children’s Minnesota hospital in St. Paul.