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St. Paul votes to remove, store Historic Justus Ramsey House

St. Paul votes to remove, store Historic Justus Ramsey House
St. Paul votes to remove, store Historic Justus Ramsey House 00:50

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The St. Paul City Council has voted to approve $84,000 for the removal and storage of one of the oldest buildings in the state, following an outcry over its potential razing.

In 1852, Justus Ramsey, the younger brother of Minnesota's first territorial governor, Alexander Ramsey, lived in a small limestone home on what is now West 7th Avenue, just a few blocks from the Xcel Energy Center. Today, that house still stands and is named after him -- the Justus Ramsey home.

In recent weeks, a flap arose over plans to demolish the building, which sits on the outdoor patio of Burger Moe's and is currently owned by that restaurant's owner, Moe Sharif. 

Sharif filed for a permit in the fall to demolish the building, citing safety concerns.

building assessment report provided at a Heritage Preservation Commission meeting shows pictures of a collapsed wall, holes in the roof and a missing chimney. Nonetheless, preservationists have fought to save the house because it's older than the state of Minnesota itself, and because of the diversity of who has lived in the home.

Justus Ramsey House

"Between the 1890s and into the 1930s, multiple generations of black families lived here," Meg Duhr, one of the building's neighbors, said.

Pictures, owned by Historic St. Paul, show the Black female-owned hair parlor that was built in front of the Justus Ramsey house in the late 1800s. The parlor owner, Lizzie Battles, lived inside the historic home in the back of the parlor.

Historic St. Paul said the last residents of the Justus Ramsey Home were an openly-gay couple, who turned the home into an antique shop in the 1930s and '40s.

The $84,000 approved by the city council is only enough to remove the home and store it, for now. The council may vote in the future for further funds to move it to a new location and restore it.

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