234 Ryan Avenue
Backstory and Context
THE MAN AND THE HOUSE
What did a sea captain do for kicks in a place like St. Paul? He operated an ice house that cut ice out of local lakes and sold it to early refrigerated warehouses. Hawking ice in the North may feel a bit like selling the sky to birds, but that is what Captain Charles Symonds did and it built him this home.
The house was originally located near the edge of what is today the Science Museum parking lot. It survived 170 years of demolition, new construction, paving, and replatting around the landing in part (only in part) because people continued finding a purpose for it.
- Five years after Captain Symonds died (1874), new owners transformed it into a boarding house for single working men.
- In the early 20th century a young Italian widow named Elizabeth Skally used the legacy left her by her late husband, a local liquor dealer, to purchase the boarding house and move it here (1913).
- A local preservationist bought and restored it in 1975. Compare and contrast the home as it is now to its appearance in 1974, the year before its restoration. Historic preservation and maintenance is an expensive process that never ends.
Millett, Larry. AIA Guide to the Twin Cities. (MNHS Press, 2006)
Minnesota Historical Society Collections