Homestead Pride in Saint Paul's Summit Hill Neighborhood

The first mansions of Summit Avenue in Saint Paul started going up nearly 150 years ago, evolving over time to become one of the city's swankiest neighborhoods. Residents want to celebrate that history with house plaques that display when their homes were constructed.

The Summit Hill Association plans to connect homeowners with vendors and contractors qualified to install house plaques on their properties. Association members have said the plaques would likely resemble the markers typically associated with the National Register of Historic Places, regardless of whether the home actually sits within one of the area's two federally defined historic districts. The association — one of the city's 17 official planning districts — floated the idea in its newsletter last month. So far, 13 homeowners have signed up for more information.

The idea of encouraging homeowners to buy historic plaques isn't new. Throughout the country, historic preservation commissions often designate uniform designs for home plaques within historic districts. A private homeowners' group in the Summit Hill area, called the Ramsey Hill Association, followed a similar tack in the 1980s.

A sizable area around Summit Avenue lies within two different national and two different local historic districts. The Hill Historic District and the Summit Avenue West Historic Districts are the national designations. The Hill Historic District runs east-to-west along Summit Avenue from the St. Paul Cathedral to Lexington Avenue. The Summit Avenue West Historic District is an adjoining area along Summit Avenue from Mississippi River Boulevard to Lexington Avenue. The local districts include Summit Hill, a triangular region from Lexington Avenue on the west, Summit Avenue on the north, and the bluffs on the south, and Ramsey Hill, the area bounded by Summit Avenue, Dale Street, Interstate Highway 94, and a line running north from the Cathedral of Saint Paul.

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