Engine House #21
At the corner of Baker Street and Ohio is Engine House #21, a great example of early adaptive reuse. Built in 1910 for horse-drawn equipment, it is a pleasing example of fire station design with a hose tower.
After its retirement from the fire service in 1943 it was used by the VFW and then, starting in 1950, as a clubhouse for the Saint Paul Turnverein. The Turnverein (known today as The Turners) began in the old country as an anti-Napoleonic movement.
Transplanted to America with the great German immigration, it served immigrants to preserve their German culture and language, and as a place for young people to develop physical vigor, especially before public schools instituted physical education programs.
Until the anti-German sentiment fomented by World War I, St. Paul had a very prominent public German culture, with newspapers (20 German-language papers are known to have been published in the city), the Germania Bank, cultural institutions like the Schubert Club, social clubs, and a statue of Schiller in Como Park.
The St. Paul Turnverein once had a fine clubhouse downtown and many participants. The Ohio Street club building is tiny compared to that one and the chapter is no longer active. Today the building is a private residence. On the way to or from, notice the 1883 rowhouse at 542-548; it awaits restoration. There is another rowhouse nearby at Winifred and Bellows, built in 1891.