New location chosen for St. Paul Justus Ramsey house

A stone building sits on a property.
The site of the Justus Ramsey Stone House on Jan. 24. A lawsuit was filed to prevent the demolition of the historic building.
Kerem Yücel | MPR News

St. Paul's historic Justus Ramsey House is getting a new home at the Minnesota Transportation Museum.  

The limestone cottage on West 7th Street was dismantled last winter after a debate between business owners who wanted to demolish the building and preservation advocates. The house’s pieces have been in storage since then, but are soon to be reconstructed. 

Community groups — including the West 7th/Fort Road Federation — oversaw the fate of the house after its disassembly. In May, they solicited proposals from organizations who wanted to restore the building.

Initially, four organizations applied, and the reviewers narrowed down the applications over the course of several months. Last week, the West 7th/Fort Road Federation announced that it has selected the Minnesota Transportation Museum as the winner.  

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In a written statement, Executive Director of the West 7th/Fort Road Federation Julia McColley said that the museum’s plan for the house is “both ambitious and inspiring.”  

“This iconic house will become an integral part of the museum's ongoing mission, emphasizing the history of Minnesota railroading and providing an opportunity to delve into the rich history of St. Paul’s African American community,” McColley wrote. 

The museum houses historic train cars and exhibits on railroad transportation at its location north of downtown St. Paul. Recently, it hosted an exhibit on the lives of African American railroad workers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  

The Justus Ramsey house was home to several Black workers and families in this stretch of time, including Pullman Company employees, construction workers and shopkeepers. According to the statement, the museum plans to reconstruct the house as it would’ve looked in this time period to help tell the story of daily life for Black railroad workers and families. 

“With the house's relocation, the connections between the local railroading industry and the community will be more prominently showcased,” McColley wrote.