Minneapolis Morning Tribune from October 28, 1948 with picture story with headline "Woman Freed in Fatal Stabbing" and photos of woman, jury, coroner, and others.

Random West St. Paul History Tidbits in Free Archive

Thanks to Mike’s Butcher Shop for their support. Hosting a dinner party? Simply looking for something quick and easy? From fresh cuts to grill-ready kabobs, you’ll find everything you need at Mike’s.

The historic archives of the Star Tribune are free for a limited time, giving local history buffs the chance to dig into newspaper articles going back to 1867. It’s an opportunity to discover random West St. Paul history.

  • How’s it work: Free access to the archives runs through January 3. It normally requires a $7.95 monthly fee.
  • More archives: Dakota County Library always offers free access to the NewsBank archive, though local papers only go back to 1986.

Random West St. Paul History

  • 1924 – Fur coat find: Small boys found a stash of 13 women’s seal-skin and raccoon coats wrapped in a horse blanket and wedged in the branches of a tree. The loot, valued at over $4,000, came from a Hibbing robbery more than a month before. (Minneapolis Tribune, October 28, 1924)
  • 1948 – Editor stabbed: Peggy Wallner fatally stabbed her husband, Walter J. Wallner—editor of the West St. Paul Booster—in their home during a domestic dispute. The fight started as a quarrel in a bar after working late and escalated in their home after midnight. The fight raged across three rooms of the house. Peggy later testified that Walter beat, kicked, and threatened her with death. She defended herself with an eight-inch butcher knife, stabbing Walter twice in the leg and he bled to death. A coroner’s jury declared the act “justifiable homicide” and set Peggy free. She took over the West St. Paul Booster and continued to run it after her husband’s death. (Minneapolis Star, October 26, 1948)
  • 1956 – Censored: In 1956, West St. Paul passed the first movie censorship ordinance in state history. It happened after 42 residents signed a petition objecting to nudity in the Finnish movie The Witch showing at the West Twins Theater. (Minneapolis Star, October 2, 1956)
    • 14-year-old Richard Oakes circulated the petition. His mother commented: “Teen-agers out this way have little else to do but go to the movies on Friday nights. When they bring in ‘adult only’ films, they’re deprived of that entertainment.”
    • City Council passed the measure 5 to 1, with Bartley V. Eckholm the lone no vote. “I don’t think any of us are qualified to censor a picture,” he said.
  • 1958 – Armory: The National Guard armory, located at the northeast corner of Robert and Emerson, nearly ended up at Bernard and Charlton. You can thank Mayor Anthony Vitelli for vetoing the location. (Minneapolis Star, March 26, 1958)
  • 1962 – Library expansion: West St. Paul’s library was originally housed in Dodd School, but the first dedicated library building was located on Emerson and built in 1962 at a cost of $94,000. It could hold 40,000 books and was built to be expanded in the future, with an expectation that it would be adequate for five years. It’s unclear if it was ever expanded, but it was replaced in 1992 with the current Wentworth Library. (Minneapolis Star, August 24, 1961)
  • 1964 – Swim & shop?: A 1964 blurb noted the humor of a lost swimsuit and a potentially naked swimmer, quoting a West St. Paul lifeguard: “Funny, I didn’t notice anyone leaving without one.” But more intriguing: The blurb described an above-ground swimming pool at Signal Hills mall where parents could leave their children to swim while they shopped. (Minneapolis Star, July 2, 1964)
  • 1966 – Lauded architecture: A 1966 article noted the architecture of four West St. Paul buildings (Minneapolis Star, November 8, 1966):
    • Augustana Lutheran Church: “The roof of the church resembles a nun’s coif with a series of pointed folds.
    • Signal Hills Bank: “The building suggests a bejeweled strongbox, appropriately sedate but with just a hint of restrained opulence.” (The bank closed in 2001 and sat empty until 2021 when it was torn down to make way for apartments.)
    • 1867 Scott Lane apartments: “A tasteful, imaginiative approach to revivalism.”
    • 1802 Oakdale Avenue apartments: “The arch at the left end of the building and the slightly arched brick sections which link balconies into vertical design unites give the building an easy lift complementing its essentially prairie silhouette.”
  • 1982 – Hot air balloon race: West St. Paul hosted Summerfest in Marthaler Park for at least three years from 1981-1983. The 1982 event included a parade, entertainment, a dance, and a race among five hot air balloons that took off from city hall. (Star Tribune, June 18, 1982)
  • 1983 – Big mural: Artist Rene Tchida said her McDonald’s mural “is by far the biggest I’ve ever done.” The mural stretches across a 155-foot long wall and averages 10-feet in height. She completed the mural in 40 days in August and September in 1983. (Star Tribune, November 13, 1983)

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