Then & Now

In the spring of 1888, the White Bear Fire Department formally organized as three companies: the Engine Company, the Hose Company and the Hook and Ladder Company. Almost immediately, an engine house was constructed by local contractor William H.

In 1946, local contractor Archie LeMire purchased the former White Bear House property at the southeast corner of Fourth and Washington Avenue. The White Bear House had been one of the earliest hotels constructed when the railroad came through in the 1860s.

Adlore “A.J.” Vadnais was still working for Northern Pacific Railroad when he and Louis Crawford partnered to start the White Bear Oil Company in 1923. Vadnais became the sole proprietor after the partnership dissolved in 1928.

The building that majestically sits on the south side at the center of the block of Fourth Street, between Cook and Banning Avenues, was constructed more than a century ago as the White Bear YMCA.

In 1880, Minnesota architect Cass Gilbert took a position as a draftsman at the well-known firm McKim, Mead and White in New York City. He returned to Minnesota in 1882 to be closer to his mother. He was young, unknown and without many of the local connections so often helpful.

In the 1920s, electric refrigeration was a recent development, and the people of White Bear were embracing the new amenity. For homes, this meant the end of reliance upon the daily visits from the iceman, who delivered the five- to 25-pound blocks of ice needed to cool their perishables.  

Beach School was originally formed in the spring of 1883 as Ramsey County Rural School District 26 and was located on the Brachvogel family farm; it remained at that site for 15 years before being relocated to Portland Avenue.

Union Cemetery, located just south of Highway 96 West, began humbly as a few family graves on the William W. Webber farm in the 1860s. By 1877, it was apparent that the community needed a non-denominational option, and Webber incorporated the cemetery.

A collection of letters and handwriting samples Carolyn Porter has collected over the years. It was Marcel’s handwriting that first attracted her to his letters.

In the 1870s, White Bear had no regular opportunity for area Catholics to attend Mass without traveling to surrounding communities.

The railroad played a significant role in the development of White Bear and the surrounding area. When the Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad opened its line through White Bear in September 1868, access to the lake area was greatly enhanced.

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