The Historic White Bear Town Hall
The Town of White Bear was formed on May 11, 1858 when Minnesota became a state. That original township was composed of thirty-six square miles and included today’s cities of Gem Lake, North Oaks, Vadnais Heights, and White Bear Lake. For nearly three decades the three person town board met at various locations to conduct their business. Since there was no historic downtown, business district, or town center to gather around, it was determined in early 1885 that a building designated for the purpose of their meeting hall was necessary and the residents of the town avidly supported this endeavor. By the end of that year, a structure was erected that has lasted more than 125 years where it has served its residents and connected them to their government, allowed them to conduct business and linked them to their past. Since 1885 all of these residents would have to conduct whatever business they had, be it variances, licenses or other items to come before the Town Board, at the White Bear Town Hall.
Evidence has been uncovered to connect Cass Gilbert to the project. The demographics of White Bear in the 1880s included a small number of year round residents and an ever growing population of summer visitors, including the wealthy and social elite of St. Paul. This was precisely the clientele Gilbert hoped to establish. By designing a structure at White Bear he was able to connect with this population. The November 1885 issue of the trade publication The Inland Architect and Builder states: “The architect Cass Gilbert reports; preparing plans for a town hall, 26 x 40 feet; at White Bear Lake.” The design for the White Bear Town Hall is not extravagant. It has been described by historian Paul Clifford Larson as “the first step on Gilbert’s distinguished career of public building design”.
The White Bear Township Board, in partnership with the White Bear Lake Area Historical Society, envisions the Town Hall as an important historical centerpiece for the greater community. Its space will be used to tell the story of White Bear Township, the history of the building and its function as a “town house” for meetings, elections and township operations. It will once again be open to the public and an active meeting place. The facility, managed by WBLAHS, will be recognized as a historical site providing interpretive programs, professionally guided tours, exhibits, and many other educational presentations.
Please consider a contribution to support this important work. Donations can be made online at https://squareup.com/store/whitebearhistory/item/wblahs-town-hall-fund or by completing the WBTH Donation Form and mailing with a check or credit card information to: WBLAHS-Town Hall Fund, PO Box 10543, White Bear Lake, MN 55110. If you would like to make an in-kind donation of have questions regarding the project, please contact Sara Hanson at 651-407-5327.
The 1940 Veterans Memorial Flagpole Time Capsule Reveal!
On Thursday evening, June 21, 2018 the White Bear Lake Area Historical Society opened the contents of the time capsule from the base of the 1940 WPA Soldiers Memorial Flagpole at Railroad Park. The highly anticipated contents included the usual items – several issues of The White Bear Press, listings of members of local organizations – but the personal letter from W. A. Stickley, owner and publisher of The White Bear Press and leader of the campaign to have the flagpole built, was a treasure. The flagpole and its base are being restored through a partnership between the White Bear Lake Lion’s Club Foundation and the City of White Bear Lake. The project is expected to be completed this fall and will be rededicated on Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2018.
Dedication of the flagpole, November 11, 1939.
Capt. Warren A. Stickley
Click here to read the letter from Capt. W. A. Stickley.