Designed by William Wilcox in 1890, the house is built of pink quartzite from southwestern Minnesota. Credit: Photo by Linda Koutsky

Designed by William Wilcox in 1890, the house is built of pink quartzite from southwestern Minnesota. Credit: Photo by Linda Koutsky

When a house is more than its bricks and mortar

633 Fairmount Ave., St. Paul

The other day I was reading an article about National Historic Landmarks. This program is overseen by the National Park Service along with their better known program the National Register of Historic Places. The National Register documents buildings that are important to a community or state. Minnesota has more than 6,000 properties on this list from small workingmen’s houses on Milwaukee Avenue to the Foshay Tower. But to be designated a National Historic Landmark the building or site must have national significance.

Minnesota has 24 National Historic Landmarks. These include Fort Snelling; Split Rock Lighthouse; a Mayo Clinic building; Louis Sullivan’s bank in Owatonna; two prehistoric sites; several locations related to logging, mining, and milling industries; and nine houses.

In the Twin Cities there are three industrial designations in Minneapolis and three houses in St. Paul. The houses are all within blocks of each other in the Summit Avenue area and it was easy to guess why James J. Hill and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s houses were on the list. But when I saw Frank B. Kellogg’s name I wondered why his house was listed. Sure, I’d been on Kellogg Boulevard a million times, but why was he nationally significant?

Frank B. Kellogg was born on December 22, 1856 in Potsdam, NY but he grew up on a wheat farm near Rochester, MN. He became a lawyer, city and county attorney, president of the American Bar Association, U.S. Senator, Ambassador, and Secretary of State signing a record-breaking 80 treaties.

In 1928, 10 years after the devastation of WWI ended, French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand and Kellogg created a pact that outlawed war and considered it a crime. When Kellogg arrived in Le Havre, France on his way to signing the pact in Paris, he was given a gold pen engraved with “Si vis pacem, para pacem.” “If you want peace, prepare for peace” — an update to an old saying partially credited to Napoleon: “If you want peace, prepare for war.” Briand and Kellogg dipped the pen into an inkwell used by Benjamin Franklin when he signed the Treaty of Alliance with France in 1778 and the Kellogg-Briand Pact was official. It was signed by 60 nations. For his work on the pact, the very next year, Kellogg was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.

In his award acceptance speech on Dec. 10, 1930, Kellogg said: There will always be disputes between nations which, at times, will inflame the public and threaten conflicts, but the main thing is to educate the people of the world to be ever mindful that there are better means of settling such disputes than by war. It is by such means as the prize offered by your Committee that the attention of the world will be focused and that men and women will be inspired to greater efforts in the interest of peace.”

From 1889 until his death on December 21, 1937, this was Frank B. Kellogg’s permanent residence. On December 8, 1976 it was listed as a National Landmark.

PIE BREAK: They say “Deli by day, bistro at night.” It’s always a good time at Cheeky Monkey (525 Selby Ave., St. Paul) 

Follow Linda on Facebook for a full listing of Minnesota’s National Landmarks