Thanks to OptimismIC Wigs and Gifts for their support.
Here’s the intersection of Marie and Charlton looking northwest in 1961 and today.
The barn on the right side of the frame has been torn down. Today there are two houses on Charlton just north of Marie. They’d be just out of the frame, and it’s unclear if that barn was part of the same property or not.
All of that farmland in view would be preserved by Olivia Dodge and become part of the Dodge Nature Center. The white buildings in the middle distance would eventually be relocated and become the education buildings at Dodge Nature Center.
The houses in the middle distance are likely homes going in along Thompson.
Here’s the intersection today. The dramatic difference showcases the mature trees that really differentiate today’s West St. Paul from 50 or 75 years ago as the city transitioned from farmland to first-ring suburb. But it’s also about the preservation efforts of the Dodge Nature Center that make this entire block a nature preserve as opposed to single family homes.
The Garlough Park sign is also visible on the far right, another example of preservation that happened during the 1960s and 1970s when many of West St. Paul’s city parks were set aside (Garlough Park was created in 1967).
September 1, 2021 Update: Fixed the Angle
Our original post assumed the camera view was looking southeast, which made for a nicely matched Then & Now photo (see below). But as we’ve heard from sharp-eyed residents and checked with experts, it looks like we were wrong and the 1961 photo is actually looking northwest. So we’ve corrected the story and replaced the 2021 photo.
Thanks to Christopher Moeller, Cindy Moeller, and Mayor Dave Napier for the corrections.
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Regarding the “1961” photo, I mentioned the low land in the middle ground to my sister, who lives nearby. She noted that there are comparably low lands in the Dodge Nature Center property. Then I looked at the photo again and noticed that the sun shines brightly on the Marie street sign – in turn, that suggests the angle of the “1961” photograph is to the northwest, rather than to the southeast. Finally, if the angle is to the northwest, then the white farm house beyond the low land should be a building that was part of the Dodge farm before it became Dodge Nature Center.
Hello. I am thinking this might be a shot of the northwest corner of Marie and Charlton, where the Dodge Nature Center is now. There are some “low lands” in the Dodge Nature Center, whereas there are some higher lands on Oakview. Also it looks like the sun is shining on the sign, so that is likely from the southern side of the sign.
Cindy & Christopher: I did consider that the 1961 photo was looking to the northwest. I could be wrong, but I consulted some aerial maps and had a hard time matching up where that barn would be. I also couldn’t identify all the buildings in the distance in the middle of the photo. If this were looking northwest, those would have to be homes along Wentworth, right? Or maybe Delaware? I’m not sure there’s anything over there that fits the bill. Finally, the sun on the street sign: In the aerial views, Charlton has a bit of a jog here, so that intersection isn’t perfectly positioned north/south and east/west. That could explain why the sun is shining on the Marie side of the sign.
At any rate, that’s how I came to my conclusion. But I’m happy to be proven wrong. I’d love to see more photos of the area and get a better sense for it.
I just saw your thoughtful reply. Then I decided to forward the photo and our email exchange to our mayor, Dave Napier. He worked at the Dodge Nature Center for many years so I think he might know the answer.
Thanks for all you do with the West St. Paul Reader.