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This Date In Central Minnesota History – February 15th, 1937

ST. CLOUD –February 15th, 1937

Photos courtesy of the Stearns History Museum: Moving the old post office down St. Germain Street

“In the midst of the Great Depression, St. Cloud took on a great feat: to move a 2,500-ton granite building four blocks down St. Germain Street!  The huge granite building was built as a Post Office for St. Cloud back in 1903.  But, the rapidly-expanding city soon out grew this facility.  In 1936, Congress commissioned a new post office building to be built on the same location.  Now the question was: what to do with the old post office building?

12 women pulled the building down St. Germain in a publicity stunt

It was a beautiful building, and it seemed a shame to have it razed.  At a city commission meeting in October of 1936, Mayor Phil Collignon suggested the possibility of having the building moved.  It seemed an impossible task, but an expert was called in to assess the situation.  To the surprise of many, he said it could be done, and he said it would be a matter of “comparative simplicity”!

The former post office in it's new location at 314 St. Germain

St. Cloud was in need of a larger City Hall at this time, so the city negotiated to buy the building for $35,671.67, and they hired “the country’s most famous moving expert”, the F. W. Laplante Company from Sioux Falls to move the structure for $6,965.  The plan was to move the building four blocks, from 720 St. Germain to 314 St. Germain.

This all began on February 15th, 1937.  On this day a WPA crew of 40 men worked in shifts to crank jacks that pried the huge building off its foundation.  Between 400 and 700 jacks were used.  In order to keep the building level, each jack could only be turned one-quarter of a turn at a time.  Eventually, the entire building was up off its foundation and resting on a support system of steel and wood.

The next step was to get the building down onto St. Germain Street, and then began the slow progress down to its new location.  It would take 1 ½ months until the building completed its journey on April 1st!  This gave the people of St. Cloud plenty of time to observe this monumental process, and crowds of interested citizens came out to watch.”

Thanks to Sarah Warmka from the Stearns History Museum for helping to put together our “This Date In Central Minnesota History” feature on WJON.

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