From the Ashes

This rare image of the Hamilton Building taken shortly after the fire was recently discovered at the Masonic Lodge in St. Louis Park.
The Hamilton Building was a vital city center before its untimely demise.
This rare image of the Hamilton Building taken shortly after the fire was recently discovered at the Masonic Lodge in St. Louis Park.

The Hamilton Building was one of two buildings built in 1892 that made up the “Brick Block” on St. Louis Park’s main street, then called Broadway. The Hamilton, and the Walker Building across the street, housed a barber shop and pool hall, stores, a movie house, offices, apartments—all the things a good downtown should have. The second floor of the Hamilton Building had a large hall where the Odd Fellows and Masons would meet, early graduation ceremonies were held and village meetings took place. In 1942, the Hamilton Building was purchased by the Paul Revere Lodge of the Masons.

Then on Christmas night 1958, tragedy struck. A fire that started in the basement quickly roared through the Hamilton Building and gutted it; the structure burned and smoldered for 12 hours. The Masons decided to rebuild on the same site, and the current Masonic Lodge sits on what is now called Walker Street. 

The St. Louis Park Historical Society has no photos of the entire Hamilton Building, so on a recent visit to the Masonic Lodge, we were delighted to find two photographs of the Hamilton Building taken shortly after the fire. Our volunteer photographer, Emory Anderson, captured this image of the rare photo of the front of the building. We mourn the loss of this historic edifice, but are so glad to have found images of it, even in its dying moments.

Jeanne Andersen is a trustee on the board of the St. Louis Park Historical Society.

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For more information on the Hamilton Building, visit our website at slphistory.org and search for “Hamilton building.”