Como Park

Information about RS Eden and Sholom Home reuse

Sholom Home for sale

The Sholom Home at 1554 Midway Parkway is currently for sale. RS Eden is exploring development of the current Shalom Home building into an affordable, supportive, sober, permanent rental housing option for individuals. The Sholom Home sits across from the State Fair Grounds entry gate on Snelling Ave. and is a few blocks West of Como Park.

RS Eden seeks community partnership

Dan Cain, President of RS Eden, wrote an open letter to the Como community (click link to read entire letter) from which I snipped these quotes.

We asked for a meeting with the community, not to propose a project, but to determine whether or not a project would work in Como and, if so, to solicit a partnership wherein the community would be involved in planning the project. We did not make a purchase offer on the property.

Our projects all had a lease expectation of the tenants that they live sober, both on and off the premises, and that they be productive. For most of them this last means work, for some, who are disabled, this means community volunteerism.

Our projects were developed with the neighborhood as a partner and, as a result, all of them had a covenant with their host neighborhood that there would be NO sex offenders, no arsonists and no predatory drug offenders.

Reaction to RS Eden makes the media

Websites provide information

Several websites hope to help you find information about RS Eden and the Sholom Home proposal. I recommend Sale of Sholom Facts (click link to go to their home page). Their navigation box (upper left) links you to these addition pages

The District 10 Como Community Council website at has created a web page titled Sholom Home Reuse Information. This page includes a letter from the Land Use committee chair and the agenda for the land use committee meeting being held Oct 7 (7 pm) at the Street Car Museum located at Horton and Lexington Pkwy N. The process District 10 uses to evaluate land use issues is also explained.

Como Park Groups

Como Park Alliance

The gates are open at Como Park

Como Park Alliance
A group of people with an interest in preserving, maintaining, and helping Como Park have created an organization called the Como Park Alliance. Their mission is:

To preserve the park’s rich history and natural environment to ensure the integrity of the park for the future through partnerships, proactive activities and education.

The Como Park Alliance started with some neighbors who wanted to have a voice in what happens in the park, and is now extended to anyone anywhere who has an interest in helping the park achieve mutual goals. The Como Park Alliance website has a link to a Como Park Monitor article describing how Rhonda DeBough-Insook initiated the creation of the Como Park Alliance.

Como Park Pool Survey
The Como Park swimming pool will likely be closed for the 2009 season. The pool is in disrepair and needs some major work. A decision whether to repair or perhaps start fresh with a new facility needs to be made. A Saint Paul Park and Recreation task force will be created to assess the Como Park pool situation and to make recommendations about options. The Como Park Alliance wants to provide input from its community.

A Como Park Alliance pool subcommittee drafted a survey and distributed it to neighbors East and West of the pool area. The survey can also be filled out on the Internet or printed from a pdf file. They are asking for the survey to be returned by Aug. 15. The drop off is to be at 1168 Lexington Pkwy N. (C. Daly’s residence) The survey was designed to be compared with a survey already done city wide in 2005. They feel that the results of this survey, when properly analyzed, will allow them to speak confidently about neighborhood sentiments to the task force this fall.

District 10 Como Community Council

The Como Park Alliance shares many of its goals with the District 10 Como Community Council and hopes their united efforts can impact the decisions made effecting Como Park. Como Park Alliance representatives regularly attend District 10 meetings.

Como Park Groups Swimming Pool

Como Park swimming pool survey

There was a new notice in the Neighborhood News section of the District 10 Como Community Council website.

The City of Saint Paul is considering options for the site that contains the Como Park pool, which is in District 10 but adjacent to District 6. The pool was closed at the end of last summer because of emergency repairs and is unlikely to be opened next season without major repairs or replacement.

I am a member of a “pool committee” which belongs to the Como Park Alliance. I am including a draft of our pool committee report below.

Pool Committee Report

Como Park Pool to be closed for 2009 season

The Como Park swimming pool will likely be closed for the 2009 season. The pool is in disrepair and needs some major work. A decision whether to repair or perhaps start fresh with a new facility needs to be made.

A task force will recommend options

Saint Paul Park and Recreation plans to create a task force this fall to assess the Como Park pool situation and to make recommendations about options. This task force is to include representatives from the neighborhood, from District 6 and 10 Community Councils, and other affected parties.

The Como Park Alliance wants input

The mission of the Como Park Alliance is to preserve, maintain, and help Como Park. We are working to stay informed with what is happening in Como Park, to communicate our concerns to those who operate it, and to offer assistance where we can.

2005 Feasibility Study of St Paul Aquatics Facilities

We are appreciate that the city allowed us to see a copy of the Feasibility Study for City of Saint Paul Facilities (July 1, 2005). This 64 page pdf arouses some concerns. This quote from the executive summary (pg 3),

“…Any renovation or replacement of existing aquatic facilities or construction of a new aquatic park should be built to accommodate at least 1,500 to 2,000 person bather load capacity. … the consulting team feels the City of Saint Paul would be best served by transitioning the Como Pool into an aquatic park.”

Their plan differs from our vision of what is appropriate for Como Park. You can see the initial draft version of the design concept for Phase IV (click twice to view large).

We will distribute a survey to Como Pool neighbors

The Pool Subcommittee has drafted a survey and will distribute it to neighbors East and West of the pool area. The survey can also be filled out on the Internet or printed from a pdf file. (provide links) We are asking for the survey to be returned by Aug. 15. The drop off is to be at 1168 Lexington Pkwy N. (C. Daly’s residence) The survey was designed to be compared with a survey already done city wide in 2005. We feel that the results of this survey, when properly analysed, will allow us to speak confidently about neighborhood sentiments to the task force this fall.

Como Park Alliance Pool Committee

Como Park Groups

Burdock Bust in Como Park Woodland Project

Burdock Bust at the Como Park Woodland from Art Oglesby on Vimeo.
EcoPartners youth crew, Community Service Stars (from METP), and Jonna’s summer Youth Job Corps crew did some digging of burdock plants today, but mostly removed burdock flower heads to keep them from reseeding in the Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom project site.

The Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom project site is located just west of the Como Park swimming pool parking lot.

Kare 11 just featured a video of the Como Woodland Outdoor Classroom on Minnesota Bound (click the link to watch it). The Classrood segment start about 12 minutes into the show.

Como Park Shuttle bus

Como Park Shuttle / Circulator Project


Michael Hahm, as Director/Campus Manager of the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory is leading the implementation of the shuttle/circulator project. He met with Art Oglesby on Friday, May 30.
Parks and Rec. Dept of the City of Saint Paul wrote the grant


A shuttle has been in the master plans since at least 1985 (see below)
$1.2 million federal grant for a pilot project (+ a small matching requirement)


A survey on the Como website is pointing toward a 10 minute loop


Where to park (probably south of fairgrounds across Como)
Contract in the works – Fairgrounds too restrictive
Route East on Como to Lexington; North to Estabrook/Nason Place; unload in front of Conservatory: loop back to beginning.
At least (2) 20-25 passenger vehicles that are handicap/stroller friendly
Metro Transit contracted to operate
Construct bus shelters
Hope to start in 2009
only weekends at beginning

1985 master plan


History of Como Park Zoo

1897 Como Zoo is founded when the City of St. Paul receives a gift of three deer. A pasture is fenced for them in Como Park.

1902 The animal collection at Como Zoo includes native animals like elk and moose, plus foxes and two Cebus cattle. Several citizens donate pets to the Zoo – a parrot, a pair of Mexican red birds and a monkey.

1915 Lt. Governor Thomas Frankson donates two bison to Como Zoo. Como Park Conservatory is built. The new Conservatory provides a warm winter home for Zoo animals.

1926 “Peggy”, an American black bear, is donated to Como Zoo. A cage is build for her out of some old iron arches that had been standing in the Park.

1930 Because spring and fall rains make the Zoo too muddy for visitors, cement walkways are build in the Zoo, and the roads are paved.

1932 Monkey Island (now Seal Island) is built. This is the first of several Como Zoo buildings constructed by the WPA, also including the bear grottoes, the Main Zoo Building and the Old Barn.

1934 Como Zoo acquires a large number of exotic animals when the Longfellow Gardens Zoo in Minneapolis closes.

1937 Frank Buck, world-famous explorer, attends the dedication ceremony of the new Main Zoo Building at Como Zoo. The bear grottoes are completed. The St. Paul Zoological Society buys animals for the new buildings.

1940 Como Zoo has paved parking lots, a “Kiddie Zoo” and space for rides and concessions. A “raccoon pit” is added, later changed into a prairie dog hill.

1951 The mill house and water wheel are built in the bird yard.

1953 “Rabbitville” is built. Later it will be expanded into the Children’s Farm Zoo.

1954 A Northern Pacific steam engine is moved to the grounds of Como Zoo. The St. Paul Zoological Society disbands and donates its remaining funds to the Zoo.

1955 City officials recommend closing Como Zoo. A Citizen Volunteer Committee is formed to save the Zoo.

1956 Archie Brand’s Seal Show comes to Como Zoo through the efforts of a wealthy Minnesota businessman. Many repairs are made at the Zoo, and more new animals arrive: Ostrich, jaguars, seals, llamas, baboons and monkeys.

1957 John A. Fletcher becomes the first Como Zoo Director. The Zoo has six employees and an annual budget of $30,000. A number of valuable and endangered animals, such as Siberian tigers, gorillas and orangutans join the Zoo collection.

1958 Toby, the giant Galapagos tortoise, comes to live at Como Zoo. Small children are allowed to ride on Toby’s back. The first Siberian tigers to be raised successfully in captivity are born at Como Zoo.

1959 Como Zoo’s Mobile Zoo visits locak schools. Jerry Fearing, of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, draws weekly features about animals at the Zoo. “Casey” the gorilla arrives.

Early 1960’s Talking story books describing the animals, their origins and habitats, are installed at Como Zoo. Zoo visitors can purchase elephant-shaped keys to operate the talking story books.

1966 The Metropolitan Zoo Report of the Citizen’s League decides Como Zoo cannot be expanded into a major zoo facility. Planning for the Minnesota Zoo begins.

1969 Again, citizens rally to raise funds to save Como Zoo. The Como Zoo Docent Association is founded by some of the same people. The original Primate House is build where the present-day Primate House now stands. Don and Donna, young lowland gorillas, arrive at the Zoo.

1972 In January, keepers are forced to shoot “Whitey”, a male polar bear, to save the life of a midnight visitor who fell into the bear grotto. In August, the perimeter fence around the Zoo is completed. For the first time, the Zoo animals are protected from vandalism.

1974 The Como Zoological Society is incorporated as a support group for Como Zoo. Toby, the Galapagos tortoise, retires to the Honolulu Zoo, where he still lives today.

1976 A new Master Plan for Como Zoo is presented to the State Legislature, which approves $8.5 million funding for the redevelopment of the Zoo.

1980 The first of the new buildings, the Large Cat Exhibit, opens.

1982 The new Aquatic Animal Building opens to the public with new quarters for the polar bears and a show arena for the Sparky the Sea Lion show. Monkey Island is rebuilt as Seal Island. Casey II, the grandson of Como’s original Casey, comes from the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas, to live at Como.

1985 The new Primate Building is ready to house gorillas, orangutans, lemurs, monkeys and tamarins.

1986 A large outdoor pool and waterfall are part of the new Land Bird and Waterfowl Exhibit.

1988 The African Hoofed Stock Exhibit, housing giraffes, zebras and two kinds of antelope, is the final building to be completed under the Master Plan of the 1970’s.

1994 Don the gorilla dies. In May, Casey II jumps out of the outdoor gorilla exhibit and takes a short walk before jumping back into his yard. Como Zoo starts planning a new and better gorilla exhibit.

1996 Over one million visitors come to Como Zoo, including thousands of children from Minnesota Schools. Sparky the Sea Lion Show celebrates its 40th Anniversary season, featuring Sparky IV.

1997 Como Zoo celebrates its 100th Anniversary.

The information in this post was copied from what is called the WayBack Machine. An organization copied several websites knowing that many of the earlier attempts at websites would be abandoned, like this one created in 1997 to celebrate Como Zoo’s 100th birthday. Click on this link to see the original web page.

Como Park

Street Car Museum

I saw an icon on the District 10 Como Community Council website. It was tiny but the perspective intrigued me. I finally came close with this shot from the old pedestrian bridge. The Street Car Museum is open every Sunday from noon till 4 pm. I learned a lot about Twin Cities parks history with an emphasis on Como Park. Click on the image to see it larger.

Como Park

Music box day at Como Lake

Music boxes of all sizes can be heard south of the pavillion at Como Park by Como Lake every year. This year it was the first weekend in June. Keep clicking on the thumbnail to see one of the biggest up close.


Bonsai @ Como – 2003

I took these photos of the Como Park bonsai collection June 5, 2003 with my Canon A70. To see the trees close up just keep clicking on the images.

Como Park Orchids

Orchid Show 2004

spicernium appletoniumEvery year during winter carnival the Orchid Society of Minnesota hosts an orchid show at the Como Park Marjorie McNeely Conservatory. They also have a web page with links to useful orchid information.

My favorite orchid was one that looked like and alien. I think it is a paph spicernium appletonium. I thought this was cool because Appleton is my home town.

You can click on the thumbnails to see a larger version. Please use the comment feature to tell me what you know about these orchids.