Meet Tom Schroeder – preservationist, home brewer, PAM member, St. Paulite, and owner of the Stone Saloon. Tom and his wife Ann purchased the pre-Civil War limestone building in 2008, and soon discovered it was the oldest surviving commercial building in the Twin Cities. Hours in the archives revealed that the building had operated as a saloon from 1857 to 1863 serving German lager beer, a refreshing alternative to the ubiquitous dark ales of the time. Tom, who has lived in the West 7th neighborhood since 1991, saw the potential for a revival of the Saloon and got to work.
Tom plans to do an authentic restoration of both the building and the business. More than just a place to quench your thirst, and even beyond being a great gathering place for the neighborhood, Tom envisions the Stone Saloon as a time-travel experience where visitors can see, taste and experience the building’s earliest Territorial and Civil War history.
To pull this off, Tom assembled some of the most skilled hands in historic architecture, carpentry, stonemasonry and blacksmithing, overseeing a painstakingly detailed restoration plan. When the restored storefront façade was unveiled last year, it quickly captured the hearts of neighbors and passersby, many of whom pulled over in their cars to snap a picture.
But this humble building has had a broader impact on preservation in St. Paul. Tom’s project became the impetus for St. Paul’s brand new Historic Use Variance, which Council Member Dave Thune carried to adoption and the Mayor Coleman signed into law this June. And Tom was also the nominator and chief author of the St. Paul Heritage Preservation Commission’s recent Limestone Properties Historic Designation, the first-ever thematic designation in the city that includes the Stone Saloon and four other early limestone structures.
Intricately restoring a building and resurrecting a business won’t happen overnight. The rehab, Tom tells all of those eager for opening day, is a marathon, not a sprint. In the meantime, keep an eye on his progress via the Stone Saloon website.