Monday, July 22, 2024
Dakota County Historical Society
To preserve, interpret and promote the history of Dakota County.

Location: 200 N. Concord

“No handsomer live stock Exchange is to be found in the West than this one at South St. Paul,” the South St. Paul Reporter noted in 1887 after the Stockyard Exchange Building opened. Built by the recently formed Union Stockyards Company, the Exchange Building housed commission firms and other businesses associated with the adjacent stockyards, which became the largest stockyards in the United States.

Initially, the building served other functions as well: the town’s first post office occupied it, the city council presided before the construction of the city hall in 1890, and the city’s first bank, Stockyards National Bank, held space.

Architect Charles A. Reed designed the Exchange Building. Reed graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before coming to St. Paul in 1881 where he later went into partnership with Allen H. Stem. Reed and Stem gained national prominence primarily through their design of railroad stations which surmounted 100 in the United States. They worked with Warren and Wetmore on Grand Central Station in New York City and designed the striking Union Station in Tacoma. Locally their best-known work is the St. Paul Hotel, completed in 1910, a year before Reed’s death.

The Stockyard Exchange Building continued functional until the mid-1970s when a new building was planned. In 1976 the South St. Paul City Council gave the city housing and redevelopment authority (HRA) the okay to purchase the building, although some council members protested fearing the purchase a “white elephant.” Some suggested restoring it as an “interpretive center” to tell the stockyards and the immigrant movement into the city.

In October 1979 Colonial Properties purchased the Exchange Building for $10,000 and agreed to spend $1.2 million to turn the building into private office space and a restaurant. Two month later, in December, vandals caused major damage to the building by turning on two firehose hydrants in the attic. Damage estimates reached $100,000.

In 1980 the Exchange Building was placed on the National Register and remains the only South St. Paul structure with such status. Colonial Properties, owner of the building, could not accomplish the work originally intended and Morris Kloster bought the building. The city HRA notified Kloster in 1986 that he was in default on his contract by failing to complete the renovation project as scheduled and his letter of credit was forfeited. Currently the Exchange Building is still owned by Kloster and is for sale.

In 1998, Duane & Martha Hubbs opened the renovated Exchange Building as the Castle Hotel, which they operated for a year before closing. Negotiations are underway to redevelop the site.

Visit one of these Dakota County Historic Sites