Czech and Slovak Workers

Workers from Bohemia, and other Slavic minorities within the Austro-Hungarian Empire did not predominate in a single industry, like the Germans. Their most enduring monument is the three-story Czech and Slovak Protective Society building just off W 7th Street at Michigan St., which celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2012.

The Czech and Slovak “Sokol,” a word meaning literally “falcon,” but with the sense of “club” or “organization” was a group dedicated to health and physical and mental exercise, like the German turnvereins, predominantly composed of “freethinkers,”— religious non-believers, or at least non-participants. The St. Paul CSPS hall, located next door to the Bohemian St. Stanislaus Catholic church, makes an interesting counterpoint. According to oral tradition, an early priest at the parish used to visit the CSPS to have a drink or two with the infidels.

One member of Rad Cech No. 12, meaning essentially Czech Sokol No. 12, Jan Rachac, was the lead carpenter in the construction of the Minnesota State Capitol, and a member of Carpenters Local 87. He also did fine finish work on the James J. Hill mansion on Summit Avenue. He built his home at 309 Harrison Street nearby. Although substantially altered over the years, the house is still there.