Dayton's Bluff History
 
Dayton's Bluff is the most picturesque and beautiful district of the city. Sloping back from the river bluff for nearly a mile, it commands from every point a wider and finer prospect of the city and the Mississippi valley than any other portion of the city east of the Mississippi... 
St. Paul Pioneer Press January 1, 1887
 
In 1857, Lyman Dayton, a well-known land and railroad speculator from Vermont, platted his "Addition to St. Paul" on the Eastern border of St. Paul. The area was separated from the early settlement along the river by a ravine, but inaccessibility did not deter Dayton and a handful of other businessmen who built large and costly houses. Farther to the south, beyond present day I-94 in the Mounds Park area, river-oriented residential development was also occurring. The earliest settlers had a spectacular view of the growth of the city at the Lower Levee and along E. Seventh Street, and could see the building of the rail yards as they stretched along the river and up the Phalen Creek valley. As the blocks of "Dayton's Bluff" (as it came to be known) were developed, a sense of the steep, rolling terrain was retained. Houses crowned terraced hilltop sites, and porches and prominent windows were oriented towards views of distant river bluffs. Carpenters and masons used quality materials in their construction, and provided hardwood floors and trim, spacious rooms, and interesting architectural details at porches and rooflines. 
Lyman Dayton (1809-1865)
 
Dayton's Bluff is one of St. Paul's undiscovered cultural resources. Beginning as a fashionable residential locale for the wealthy, it evolved in the early 1880s into a suburb of broad social and economic diversity; a place for every man (and woman) to build his house and watch the world grow up around him. That world was made up of breweries and railroads and their workers, carpenters and masons, janitors, grocers and teachers, all with growing families; and interspersed among these, a mix of clerks, salesmen and managers that collected at dawn along Third Street for their daily assault on the heart of the city.

Many of the original homes still stand today and have already celebrated their one-hundredth birthday. The current interest in the revitalization of Dayton's Bluff focuses largely on the fine older buildings which are the record of the area's long history.

The Dayton's Bluff Historic District was approved by the St. Paul City Council in August, 1992. The creation of the Historic District recognizes the historical and architectural significance of this early St. Paul neighborhood and is a an important part of neighborhood revitalization in St. Paul's District 4.


Built in 1880 at a cost of $2,000 for Michael and Rose Walter, this nearly intact survivor of the bracketed Italianate mode, is complete with full front porch, central gable framed by sunbursts, and dentiled and bracketed cornices. Most of the exterior colors are the ones original to the house. 
This home is currently owned and has been restored by the Dayton's Bluff District 4 Community Council President Donavan Cummings and his wife Amy Handford/Cummings


Michael and Rose Walter House


St. Paul is ringed by sandstone outcrops which provide delightful locations for homes and families, cathedrals and capitols. The first great homes of fine carved stones stole the very edge of the bluffs and great views of the city and river. To the East, the bluffs had long been the center of Native American Worship and Lore in Mounds Park.
Barge traffic passes the Bluffs on the Mississippi

Dayton's Bluff is experiencing a renaissance. Many homes are being renovated by private investors and enthusiastic homeowners. Residents are determined to make Dayton's Bluff a premier place to live and raise a family. Public investment includes the multi-million dollar Third Street renewal project and the recent construction of Metropolitan State University on the old Saint John's Hospital site.
Metropolitan State University