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Temporary restraining order halts demolition at Justus Ramsey Stone House

On Tuesday morning a board member of Historic Saint Paul told KARE 11 that an early-morning appeal had halted demolition.

ST PAUL, Minn. — The fate of the oldest-standing private residence in Saint Paul has been in question for several months and now protestors are stepping in to protect the Justus Ramsey House

Several protestors gathered in front of the metal gate separating the sidewalk from a piece of the capitol city Tuesday morning. The historic house is located in the patio area of Burger Moes.

District Court Judge Laura Nelson signed a temporary restraining order, halting the destruction before it could begin on Tuesday. The court order also said that the owner of Burger Moe's, Moe Sharifkhani, the city of Saint Paul or any contractors working for them can't destroy any or all of the Justus Ramsey House until the court holds a full hearing and issues a ruling. 

The ruling from the court notes that all involved parties will meet and discuss the motion immediately, then contact the court to schedule a hearing. 

Earlier in the week, Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter signed an emergency executive order, giving the owner of the property permission to demolish the house on West 7th Street "upon obtaining the proper permits." 

Administrative Order 23-19 refers to the structure as "dangerous" and notes that the Justus Ramsey House had a partial collapse in September 2022 and when engineers examined the building on Sept. 23, it was judged structurally unstable. The engineers at that time recommended it be immediately demolished. 

While Justus Ramsey House is a locally designated preservation site, according to Order 23-19, "if the property is the subject of an administrative order signed by the mayor requiring emergency demolition in accordance with Chapter 45, Legislative Code of the City of Saint Paul or Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 463." 

Local history lovers have been protesting the demolition of the limestone house, built in 1852 and home to former slaves by the name of George Perkins and his wife Lizzie in 1900. Tom Schroeder, owner of Waldmann Brewery told KARE 11 in October about the importance of the house to the Black community in the Twin Cities, with a community of former slaves coming to live in the area around the house. 

Saint Paul's longest-serving mayor, Robert A. Smith, lived in the Justus Ramsey House as well. 

People who want to see the building stay said that it's worth saving. 

“When we lose a small structure like this, we lose so much of the narrative around the early working-class people or the early people of color," said Elyse Jensen, who lives in the neighborhood and is on the board of Historic Saint Paul. "Anybody that wasn’t the James J. Hill mansion or the Alexander Ramsey house. We lose that narrative.”

Those protesting the house's demolition on Tuesday said they would like to see the Justus Ramsey House moved to another location instead of being destroyed. 

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