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Famous Landmarks in St. Cloud — Our Top Five [VIDEO]

St. Cloud‘s landscape is filled with historical landmarks — building and places that have become iconic to Central Minnesota. Here are our top five pics for must-see landmarks in St. Cloud.

Downtown St. Cloud is filled with history. In fact, four of our top five historic landmarks are within a short walk downtown.

St. Cloud Landmarks
Steven Sohlstrom,

Let’s take a look at some specifics.

Stearns County Courthouse
Pete Nyblom

1. Historic Stearns County Courthouse

Finished in 1922, the Stearns County Courthouse in St. Cloud, Minnesota replaced an original — and apparently ill-conceived, inconvenient and ugly — red brick courthouse. The new building, built in the Beaux Arts style with granite columns and a yellow tile dome that still glows at night, watches over downtown St. Cloud. Carved above its columned portico: “Stearns County  Courthouse – A  Landmark of Civic Progress – A Memorial to Sturdy Pioneers.” Hollywood came to the courthouse in 1992 when the building’s ceremonial courtroom and rotunda were used  to film scenes for “The Mighty Ducks.”

Pond Hockey at Lake George
Abby Faulkner, WJON News

2. Lake George and Eastman Park

Platted and named in 1855, Lake George lies just south of what is now downtown St.  Cloud. The shallow, swampy lake used to stretch to St. Mary’s  Cathedral and water used to flow through a ravine from the lake to the Mississippi River.  That was before the lake was dredged in the late 1920s and its north and south ends were filled-in. Today, this 9-acre lake serves as a park — a place to skate in the winter and to paddleboat in the summer.

St. Mary's Cathedral
Steven Sohlstrom,

3. St. Mary’s Cathedral

German settlers founded St. Mary’s Parish in 1855, creating a church/school in what is now downtown St. Cloud. The church grew in membership and physical size until it was destroyed by a fire in 1920.  In 1922, a local Benedictine priest returned from Rome with plans to rebuild the church modeled after a fifth-century Italian basilica. Parishioners worshipped in the basement of the new building until the upper church was completed during the Depression.  After a fire destroyed nearby Holy Angels Church, St. Mary’s was designated the Cathedral of the St. Cloud Diocese. In 2006, five swastika symbol disks were removed from the sides of the church and replaced with five new disks depicting Pope John Paul II‘s “mysteries of Light.”

Clemens Garden
Pete Nyblom

4. Munsinger Gardens / Clemens Rose Gardens

Originally the location of a sawmill, St. Cloud’s historic landmark Munsinger Gardens stretches along the Mississippi River across from St. Cloud State University. Munsinger dates from the 1930s with 14 acres of WPA-constructed paths and garden areas. Uphill, the Clemens Gardens are more formal with lots of classic European style and plenty of decorative ironwork and fountains.

Clemens Gardens began as an act of love. In the 1990s, businessman Bill Clemens donated land across from his home to build a garden for his wife to enjoy. The late Virginia Clemens battled multiple sclerosis for more than 40 years and enjoyed watching the gardens from her home.

Today both Munsinger and Clemens Gardens are tended to by St. Cloud’s Park Department. They’re popular locations for wedding photos, bus tour stops and quiet lunches among the flowers. The gardens are free and open to the public.

Paramount Theatre and Visual Arts Center
Flickr user resedabear

5. Historic Paramount Theatre

Local businessmen put up the money in 1920 for a grand “picture palace” in downtown St. Cloud. The Sherman Theatre opened Christmas Eve 1921 as a silent movie and vaudeville house. Paramount Pictures bought and renamed the theatre in 1928 and it thrived for over three decades. But by 1970, the theater had fallen in disrepair and and a fire severely damaged the building in 1985.  Supporters raised money and made  renovation plans and by 1998, the Paramount reopened with a visual arts center in the basement and a performing arts auditorium on the main floor.

Here’s a Google Map of our top five historic landmarks in St. Cloud.

View St. Cloud, Minnesota Landmarks in a larger map

These are our top five must see historic landmarks in St. Cloud.  What’s on your list?

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