Cass Gilbert Society


Past Events & Meetings | Past Tours | Past Lectures

Rediscovering the Minnesota State Capitol
November 12, 2015, 7 p.m.

University Club, 420 Summit Avenue, St. Paul. Free to members; $5 for non-members.
Ted Lentz, FAIA, president of the Cass Gilbert Society and a public member of the Minnesota State Capitol Preservation Commission, will speak on the challenges of dealing with the Minnesota State Capitol. When the building reopens in late 2017, the Capitol will again stand in the front rank of America's public buildings. The Capitol renovation and restoration program, underway since 2011, continues with a well-structured program that enhances existing areas and rooms while creating terrific new spaces. No one gets everything, but all Minnesotans gain a building that serves the State better than ever before.

The presentation will develop three narratives: Design and Construction, 1896-1905; Preservation and Renovation, 2011-2017; Art and expanded public use at the Capitol, 1905-2017 and beyond. Over 20,000 square feet of new space, newly open to the public will be oriented to support and engage Minnesotans and out-of-state visitors in ways never before possible. The renewed Minnesota State Capitol—the People's House—is a great story with many heroes. Follow the Capitol restoration work online at


The Cass Gilbert Society is launching an educational campaign to increase the awareness and appreciation of the furnishings that Gilbert designed or selected for the Capitol. About half of the original 800 pieces remain in the possession of the Minnesota Historical Society, and many will be put into use in the Capitol. The whereabouts of the others are unknown, but many are likely to still exist. The project will seek to locate some of the furnishings, to document stories about them, to share anecdotes about family connections, to discover details about their acquisition, and to encourage the preservation of these historical artifacts. Information will be assembled in a database and made available through the Cass Gilbert Society website. The initial concept for the project was presented by Carolyn Kompelien and Marjorie Pearson on September 19, 2014, at the annual conference of the American Association of State and Local History held in St. Paul. Fundraising for the project is proceeding under the leadership of Carolyn Kompelien and John Yust, vice president of the Cass Gilbert Society.

Cass Gilbert Society Day-Long Tour to Owatonna and Faribault
October 17, 2015

Members and friends of the Cass Gilbert Society are invited to join a day-long tour of Owatonna and Faribault, Minnesota, to view works by Louis Sullivan, Cass Gilbert, and Clarence Johnston. The widely acclaimed National Farmers’ Bank in Owatonna, built in 1907-1908, was the first of Sullivan’s so-called "jewel-box" banks, built over a period of several years in the Midwest with the design assistance of George G. Elmslie. Commissioned by Carl Bennett, the bank president, the bank, now a branch of Wells Fargo, has been the pride of Owatonna since its opening. We will tour the bank and its immediate surroundings in downtown Owatonna with commentary from Marjorie Pearson, Ph.D., past president of the Cass Gilbert Society, and a representative of the Owatonna Chamber of Commerce.

The tour will then proceed to Faribault, home of Shattuck-St. Mary’s School, which boasts a 1910 armory building designed by Cass Gilbert and several buildings and the signature Whitney Memorial entrance arch designed by Clarence Johnston in the 1920s. Tom Blanck and Marjorie Pearson will provide architectural commentary. Following the Shattuck visit we will be having lunch at The Depot Bar and Grill in Faribault.

We are also planning to view the Gothic Revival Episcopal Cathedral, designed by James Renwick and built in 1862-1869 for founding bishop Henry Whipple. Renwick is best known as the architect of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. Gilbert was involved in some of the design work in the adjacent Romanesque Revival style guild hall. If time permits, we will stroll along Central Avenue, Faribault’s Main Street. We will return to St. Paul between 3:30 and 4:00 p.m.

The tour is scheduled to leave from the Unity Church parking lot, southwest corner of Portland Avenue and St. Albans, St. Paul, at 8 a.m. Cars may be left in the lot. We will serve coffee and snacks on the bus. Tour cost: $35 plus pay-your-own lunch expenses; limited to 30 people. Reserve by October 12 with Carolyn Nayematsu:, 651-699-7407 or 651-492-8752; then send your check to Cass Gilbert Society, P.O. Box 4066, St. Paul, Minnesota 55104. Registration Form.

American Association of State and Local History Conference, St. Paul
September 17-20, 2014.

Early Registration deadline is Friday, July 25, 2014.

See why history matters! September 17-20, 2014. For more information:

Wednesday, September 17, 2014, 7PM.
John C. Guenther, FAIA, The Work of Cass Gilbert in St. Louis

University Club, 420 Summit Avenue, St. Paul. Download Flyer [161KB PDF]

Architect John Gunther, AIA, of St. Louis, will be speaking on the work of Cass Gilbert and Harvey Ellis in St. Louis. John was one of the leaders of the Cass Gilbert Society St. Louis tour in October 2013.

Highlights included behind-the-scenes tours of two of Gilbert’s major civic building: the St. Louis Public Library (1912) and the St. Louis Art Museum (1903). Both buildings have been recently restored and renovated. Mr. Guenther’s talk will be followed by a question and answer period. Other participants on the St. Louis tour will also be present to answer questions and comment on the tour.

Admission is free to Cass Gilbert Society members and students. A $5 contribution is asked from others.

Saturday, August 23, 2014.

Cass Gilbert Home and Building Tour. There are two identical tours, morning and afternoon. A block of 20 tickets is being held for pre-registered Cass Gilbert Society members.

Explore the exteriors and interiors of public buildings and gracious homes designed by Cass Gilbert one of the most prolific and stylistically versatile architects of his generation.

In partnership with the Minnesota Historical Society History Architecture Crawls program, Cass Gilbert Home and Building Tour; morning and afternoon bus tours of Cass Gilbert sites. Registration is required through the Minnesota Historical Society; see for more information & registration.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 5 – 8 p.m.

Northwest Architectural Archives Fundraising Event

To be held at the Owre House, Minneapolis. Designed by Purcell and Elmslie, the house was built in 1911. Includes talks and a buffet supper. Suggested donation $50/individual, $70/couple.

Visit this historic Prairie School home and learn about the rich holdings of the Northwest Architectural Archives, part of the University of Minnesota Libraries. These archives house the drawings, photographs, and records of the work of notable Minnesota architects including Leon Arnal, Ralph Rapson, and John Howe.

For more information:

Saturday, October 19, 2013, 9 a.m. to noon
Minnesota Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians (MNSAH) Fall Tour 2013

Cass Gilbert’s Houses & Churches: Architecture and Social Context in St. Paul
Virginia Street Church, St. Paul, Gilbert and Taylor, 1887.

MNSAH’s fall tour features the work of Cass Gilbert in the Summit Avenue area of St. Paul. The tour begins at the Virginia Street Church on Selby Avenue, continues with a tour of the Dayton Avenue Presbyterian Church and a walking tour of a variety of nearby homes. Our tour guides will be architectural historians Kate Solomonson and Jeanne Kilde.

Where: Meet at the Virginia Street Church, 170 Virginia Street, St. Paul, MN 55102. The church is located at the intersection of Virginia Street and Selby Avenue, three blocks west of the St. Paul Cathedral.

Cost: $15 for MNSAH members; $5 for students; $20 for non-members.

You may register online, or send your check, payable to MNSAH, and list of those attending to:
Lock Bounds
2072 Iglehart Ave
St. Paul, MN 55104

Registration Deadline: Thursday, October 17, 2013.

Cass Gilbert and Clarence Johnston Society members may register at the member rate by choosing CGS/CJS Member
* If purchasing a guest ticket, please enter guest’s name, then enter your own name with your credit card at check out.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013, 7 p.m.

Cass Gilbert Star Architect: From St. Paul to Manhattan
Minnesota History Center Auditorium

The Cass Gilbert Society is partnering with the Minnesota Historical Society to present Dr. Katherine Solomonson, Associate Professor, University of Minnesota School of Architecture, College of Design.

One of America's first celebrity architects, Cass Gilbert designed homes along Summit Avenue, the St. Paul Seminary complex (now part of the University of St. Thomas), and the Minnesota State Capitol, but he is best known as the architect of the Woolworth Building in New York City. Completed in 1913, it was the tallest skyscraper in the world, and it quickly became the most famous. Gilbert might not have received this plum commission, however, were it not for one of his earlier works right here in St. Paul.

Help mark the Woolworth Building’s centennial as Kate Solomonson explores how Cass Gilbert, St. Paul boy-made-good, transformed a local career into international fame. Reserve free lecture tickets at 651-259-3015 or

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Join the Cass Gilbert Society for a Fall Tour

Members and friends of the Cass Gilbert Society will enjoy a walking tour of the work of Gilbert and his contemporaries in St. Paul’s Ramsey Hill neighborhood. Gilbert began his career in St. Paul by designing for his mother Elizabeth the house that still stands at 471 Ashland Avenue. Buildings by Gilbert in Ramsey Hill range in date from 1883 to 1898. The tour will also look at works of colleagues and contemporaries that extend into the 1920s.

When Gilbert returned to St. Paul, after studying at MIT, traveling in Europe, and working for McKim, Mead & White in New York, he was able to apply his knowledge and experience to his independent career. While he employed popular architectural styles of the late nineteenth century, such as the Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, and Romanesque Revival, he often employed elements of more than one style in a single building, and he developed characteristics details that provide clues to his design authorship. Among them are window designs, column and capital details, and unexpected combinations of materials. One aspect of the tour will be to focus on such details as well as to tell the stories behind the buildings.

Participants will also tour the interior of the first floor of an early (1890) Gilbert house at 839 Osceola Avenue. In addition to rehabilitating the kitchen and downstairs bathroom, the current owners completely restored the exterior including architectural details, which had been covered with steel siding,

The tour will begin at Overlook Park on Summit Avenue and Ramsey Street, east of the University Club, by the Eagle, starting between 1:30 P.M. and 2:00 P.M. Groups will be led by Tom Blanck, Marjorie Pearson, Ted Lenz, and John Yust. At the conclusion of the tour, participants are invited to a reception at the Summit Avenue home of Carolyn Nayematsu and Vincent Platt.

Tour admission is $15 (cash or check). For reservations and further information, call Carolyn at 651-699-7407.

February 28, 2012

Cass Gilbert and Detroit

Join the Cass Gilbert Society on Tuesday, February 28, 2012, at the University Club, 420 Summit Avenue, Saint Paul, at 7:00 P.M. for a follow-up event from the Society trip to Detroit. Barbara S. Christen, Ph.D., noted Cass Gilbert scholar, will preview the talk, Envisioning a Grand City: Cass Gilbert’s Detroit, she will be giving at the annual conference of the Society of Architectural Historians to be held this April in Detroit.

Cass Gilbert’s Detroit Public Library (1913-1921), Scott Memorial Fountain (1921-1922), and the Belle Isle Bridge (1915), offer rich territory, previously unstudied collectively, to explore perspectives of city planning in early twentieth-century Detroit. The library served as one aspect of a civic center plan that was scuttled in the face of a struggling economy, labor concerns, and a world preparing to join a war, but that is only part of the story.

Gilbert also envisioned a city center knit together with the outer city by grand boulevards leading to an extensive bridge project that included recreational and park areas. Dr. Christen’s talk will examine and contextualize the rhetoric in the popular press about Gilbert’s grand schemes in relation to the ideals of the City Beautiful. It will also examine the role of Detroiter, Charles Moore, who was secretary to Michigan senator, James McMillan (author of the McMillan Plan in Washington, D.C.), and editor of Burnham and Bennett’s Plan of Chicago (1909).

Her talk will also consider the role of education for an emerging citizenry by examining the spatial, didactic, and programmatic goals of the Children’s Room in the library. The decorative treatments and uses of the children’s areas in the building have not been studied at length and deserve attention in light of the larger project of reformist ideals.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cass Gilbert Society Holiday Celebration and Fundraiser at the Freeman House

The Cass Gilbert Society is hosting a holiday celebration on Sunday, December 4, 2011, at the Freeman house, 505 Summit Avenue at Mackubin Street, Saint Paul, between 5 and 7 p.m. to raise funds to further the research activities and enhance the website and online database of the Cass Gilbert Society. History player and actor Alan Johnson will welcome guests in the role of Cass Gilbert. The Mount Curve String Quartette will provide musical entertainment, and light refreshments will be served. The cost is $50.00 per person.

For further information, please contact Linda Bjorklund, 612-990-7374.

Cass Gilbert designed the house, completed in 1897, for George W. Freeman, president and son-in-law of Conrad Gotzian, founder of C. Gotzian & Company, manufacturers and jobbers of shoes and boots in Saint Paul’s Lowertown. Gilbert had previously designed two warehouse buildings for the company in 1892 and 1895. The house is faced with Oneata and Indiana limestone and features Byzantine-inspired ornament on the exterior. The interior has several grand spaces suitable for entertaining, including an impressive multistory stairhall.

The current owners, architect Peter O’Brien and his wife, Helen (Duffie) Pearce, have generously made the house available over the years for Ramsey Hill house tours and a previous Cass Gilbert Society tour. It can also be seen as the site of some of the interviews featured in Cass Gilbert: Standing the Test of Time, the Cass Gilbert Society-sponsored TPT production.

Members of the Cass Gilbert Society and others on our mailing list will receive separate invitations to this event with more detailed information.

September 13, 2011

Who Built the Minnesota State Capitol?

Join the Cass Gilbert Society on Tuesday, September 13, 2011, 7 p.m., at the University Club, 420 Summit Avenue, Saint Paul. Randy Croce will share findings from a year-long research project on the workers and contractors involved in the construction of the Minnesota State Capitol from 1896 to 1907. Croce will relate the stories of several of the individuals he and his fellow researchers uncovered, including the six men who lost their lives during the construction. He will also talk about safety standards, rates of pay and working conditions for the builders of the period, accompanied by archival and contemporary photographs.

Croce has authored two articles based on the group’s work: “State Capitol’s stunning beauty came at a terrible cost,” and “State Capitol history comes alive for middle school students,” Admission to the talk is free to members and students and is $5.00 for

May 28,29 & 30, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend at Roselawn Cemetary

The Roselawn Cemetery Chapel (1902-1904), designed by Cass Gilbert and Thomas Holyoke in the style of a medieval English country church, will be open for visitors on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, May 28, 29, and 30, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.. There will be an organ concert each day beginning at 11 a.m. on Saturday and Monday, and noon on Sunday. While the cemetery, designed by Gilbert in 1902, is open to visitors all year, the chapel is normally open only for funerals and memorial services. Roselawn Cemetery is at Larpenteur Avenue and Victoria Street, Roseville, Minnesota. For more information, see

February 15, 2011

U.S. Supreme Court Turns 75: The Washington-Baltimore Report

Join the Cass Gilbert Society on Tuesday, February 15, 2011, at the University Club, 420
Summit Avenue, Saint Paul, at 7 p.m. Members of the Cass Gilbert Society who toured Washington and Baltimore in mid-November will report on their experiences.

The presentation will focus on the U.S. Supreme Court, which celebrated its 75th anniversary last fall. The group was welcomed by curator Catherine Fitts and given a wonderful behind-the-scenes tour of the building and the exhibit that had been organized by Catherine and her staff. Before our visit, the group met with C. Ford Peatross at the Library of Congress who displayed a variety of Cass Gilbert drawings, including some of the Supreme Court.

The group also toured the historic Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress with its extensive mural program, many by painters who also worked with Gilbert; the White House; and the U.S. Capitol, which helped establish context for the Minnesota Capitol.

The last day of the tour was spent in Baltimore with Barbara Christen. We focused on the work of McKim, Mead and White, especially the Ross Winans House. Gilbert was the superintendent for the construction of the house in 1881, the year before he returned to Saint Paul. Other highlights included the multistory cast-iron library of the Peabody Institute and the Baltimore Cathedral.

Participants will talk about various aspects of the tour, providing personal perspectives and relating the buildings and sites to Cass Gilbert’s larger career. Several of the group have provided photographs for the presentation. Refreshments will be served following the lecture. Admission is free to members and students and is $5.00 for non-members.

November 9, 2010

Cass Gilbert: Architect of Intersecting Worlds

Marjorie Pearson and Katherine Solomonson gave a joint presentation on Cass Gilbert at the annual Society of Architectural Historians conference on April 23, 2010, in Chicago, as part of a session on Midwest Architecture Outside of Chicago. An expanded version of their talk, Cass Gilbert: Architect of Intersecting Worlds, will be presented to the Society at the University Club, 420 Summit Avenue, St. Paul, on Tuesday, November 9, 2010.

May 11, 2010


Is there a Cass Gilbert connection with Cuba? Dewey Berscheid, then the editor of the Cass Gilbert Society Newsletter, did additional research and headlined the next issue of the Newsletter, “Our Man in Havana?” in which described his unsuccessful efforts to verify the attribution.

Dewey’s article was the inspiration for a Cass Gilbert Society research trip to Cuba. The
organizational effort of several years was undertaken by Jim Hirsh. Last July the U.S. Department of the Treasury issued a license for six members of the Cass Gilbert Society to visit Cuba to investigate the possible role of Cass Gilbert and other American architects in the construction of the Cuban capitol and related buildings. Wendy Weimer, president of the Cass Gilbert Society, is a Spanish speaker and assisted with translation. Cindy Stephani, vice president of the Cass Gilbert Society, is a tour guide at the Minnesota State Capitol. Tom Blanck, an architect, is an expert on the architecture of Cass Gilbert and a founding member of the Cass Gilbert Society. Marjorie Pearson is an architectural historian, historic preservation consultant, and past president of the Cass Gilbert Society. Jim Hirsh, who was the chief organizer of the trip, is the general counsel of the Cass Gilbert Society. Carol Highsmith is a nationally known architectural photographer. She has recently donated thephotographs she has taken of the Woolworth Building to the Cass Gilbert Society and to the Library of Congress.

Five of the six members of the group will be reporting on the Cuba trip, what they observed and researched, and the Cuban architects and historians with whom theyconsulted. The talk will be illustrated with the photographs of Carol Highsmith and other tour participants. While the focus of the evening will be the Cuban capitol, El Capitolio, and its environs, other topics will include a brief overview of Cuban history and the country’s relationship with the United States; the role of American architects in Cuba, including several contemporaries and associates of Cass Gilbert, and their buildings; and historic preservation efforts in Havana.

Admission to the lecture is free for members of the Cass Gilbert Society and the University Club as well as students. There is a $5 charge for non-members. Refreshments will be served following the presentation.

November 22, 2009


The Cass Gilbert Society will host a celebration to honor this nationally recognized architect whose buildings are an important part of Minnesota history.

The 150th birthday celebration will be held on Saturday, November 21, 2009, and feature a free tour of the Minnesota State Capitol. Guides from the Minnesota State Historical Society will focus on the Cass Gilbert story and the architectural details of the capitol. The free tours, which begin at 2pm, require reservations by calling 651-296-2881. A LEGO™ model of the capitol will be on display to delight visitors young and old.

An exhibit highlighting buildings designed by Cass Gilbert over 50 years will be on display in the North Corridor of the capitol building and will continue to be available for public view for two weeks following the celebration.

Festivities will include a birthday cake that will be served in the capitol’s Rathskeller at 3:30 p.m. This event is free and open to the public.

The celebration will continue on Sunday, November 22, 2009, with a champagne reception at the Gilbert Building, 413 Wacouta Street, St. Paul, Minnesota, between 4 and 6 p.m. Welcoming remarks and a birthday toast will be made at 4:30 p.m. Tours will be given of the building at 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. This event, which is also free, is being sponsored by Charlie Neimeyer, Edina Realty, and the McCullough Companies.

For more information contact Cindy Stephani at 612-719-8419.

February 17, 2009

Gail Fenske to Speak on Her Book, The Skyscraper and the City: The Woolworth Building and the Making of Modern New York.

Gail Fenske, Professor of Architecture at the School of Art, Architecture and Historic Preservation, Rogers Williams University, will speak on her book, The Skyscraper and the City: The Woolworth Building and the Making of Modern New York, why she wrote it and what it meant to her.

Following her talk, Dr. Fenske will answer questions and sign copies of her book. Refreshments will be served. Admission is free to Cass Gilbert Society members and students with ID; the charge is $5.00 for non-members.

Gail Fenske is also the author of “The Image of the City: The Woolworth Building and the Creation of the New York Skyline,” a chapter in Cass Gilbert: Life and Work, edited by Barbara Christen and Steven Flanders (W. W. Norton, 2001), and “Cass Gilbert’s Skyscrapers in New York: The Twentieth-Century City and the Urban Picturesque,” in Inventing the Skyline: The Architecture of Cass Gilbert (Columbia University Press, 2000).

November 2008

Katherine Solomonson to Speak November 11, 2008:
"Cass Gilbert: Re-Imaging the Western Landscape"

Katherine Solomonson, Ph.D., will speak to the Cass Gilbert Society on November 11, 2008, at 7 p.m. at the University Club, 420 Summit Avenue, Saint Paul. Her talk is titled "Cass Gilbert: Re-Imaging the Western Landscape." Admission is free to members and students with current student identification cards; there is a $5 charge for nonmembers of the Cass Gilbert Society. Refreshments will be served following the lecture.

Dr. Solomonson, associate dean for academic affairs in the School of Architecture, College of Design, at the University of Minnesota, has been researching and writing about the Minnesota career of Cass Gilbert and the work of his St. Paul office as it shaped the perception of architecture in the Great Northwest. She has focused on the role of Gilbert in fostering architectural professionalism in the late nineteenth century, the growth of architectural offices, and the development of architect-client relationships.

The railroad was a key factor in the furtherance of Gilbert’s career, both as a client and in enabling him to pursue a geographically wide-ranging practice.

April 2008

Annette Atkins, author of newly published book for the Minnesota Sesquicentennial, Creating Minnesota: A History from the Inside Out, (Minnesota Historical Society Press), will speak on Tuesday, April 8, 2008, at the University Club, 420 Summit Avenue, Saint Paul, at 7:00 P.M.

February 2008
Cass Gilbert Society Travelers to Tell Tour Tales

Join participants in the Cass Gilbert Society tour to New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut on Tuesday, February 12, 2008, at the University Club, 420 Summit Avenue, Saint Paul, at 7:00 P.M.

Members of the group, including Tom Blanck, Jim Law and Jean Velleu, Nick Marcucci and Ann Schroder, Marjorie Pearson, and Cindy Stephani, will present an illustrated talk about the October tour.

Society members from Connecticut, California, Minnesota, Maryland, and New York, met in New York City at the U.S. Custom House on Bowling Green on October 11, 2007, to begin an intense five-day tour of Cass Gilbert sites. Organized by Helen Post Curry and Steven Flanders, the tour was also guided by Barbara Christen and Marjorie Pearson. When Gilbert relocated from Saint Paul to New York at the beginning of the twentieth century, he applied the lessons he had learned in Minnesota to the design of public, institutional, and commercial buildings. Tour highlights included the Brooklyn Army Terminal; the West Street Building and Woolworth Building in lower Manhattan; the newly restored Essex County Courthouse in Newark, N.J.; the Cass Gilbert Historic District in Waterbury, Connecticut, where the city approved restoration of the City Hall; and Cass Gilbert’s country house and the local cemetery in Ridgefield, Connecticut.

November 13, 2007
Talk by Larry Millett, author of The AIA Guide to the Twin Cities.

Join the Cass Gilbert Society on Tuesday, November 13, at 7:00 P.M. at the University Club, 420 Summit Avenue, Saint Paul. Larry Millett, author of the AIA Guide to the Twin Cities (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2007), will be speaking on Cass Gilbert and the architecture of Saint Paul.

Millett, who was architecture critic for the Saint Paul Pioneer Press, is also the author of several books that explore the architectural heritage of the Twin Cities, including Lost Twin Cities (1992) and Twin Cities Then and Now (1996).

The AIA Guide, which is subtitled “The Essential Source on the Architecture of Minneapolis and St. Paul,” does not slight the work of Cass Gilbert, which ranges from the Minnesota State Capitol to the warehouses of Lowertown, among its fifteen hundred total entries.

Admission to the lecture is free to Society members. There is a $5.00 charge for nonmembers. Refreshments will be served after the lecture. A demonstration of the Cass Gilbert Society’s redesigned website (see story inside) will be available before and after the lecture.

Past Tours

November 15, 2011

Lessons From Waterbury, Connecticut

Join the Cass Gilbert Society on Tuesday, November 15, 2011, 7 p.m., at the University Club, 420 Summit Avenue, Saint Paul. Ted Lentz, AIA, current president of the Cass Gilbert Society, provides a report on the restoration of the Waterbury City Hall. His talk is titled Waterbury City Hall Renovation: Lessons Learned and Cass Gilbert’s Continuing Impact on the City of Waterbury, Connecticut.

The Waterbury City Hall is the centerpiece of Gilbert’s ambitious plan for the City of Waterbury, begun in 1914. It served the city well for many years, but was vacated after years of neglected maintenance. In 2006, it was threatened with demolition but concerned citizens organized to save the building. In 2007, after the voters approved a bond issue to rehabilitate City Hall, the Waterbury Development Corporation drew up plans, and the city aldermen appropriated the funds. Members of the Cass Gilbert Society visited Waterbury in October 2007 on the Society tour of New York and Connecticut, shortly after the bond issue had been approved. Work was carried out in 2009-2010, and City Hall was officially rededicated on January 1, 2011.

Ted will illustrate his talk with “before” pictures taken by Cass Gilbert Society members in 2007 and others, as well as with ample “after” pictures that he took before and after the symposium.

September 22, 2011

Ramsey Hill House Tour: An Evening of Elegance

Friends of the Cass Gilbert Society in the Twin Cities area may want to participate in the biannual Ramsey Hill House Tour: An Evening of Elegance, Thursday, September 22, 2011, 5 to 9 p.m.

Visit eight historic homes in the Ramsey Hill neighborhood along and near Summit Avenue between Dale Street and the Cathedral of Saint Paul. The candlelight tour includes musical entertainment at three of the houses and wine and refreshments at two of the houses. Two houses on the tour were designed by Clarence Johnston, Sr., and one by Emmanuel Masqueray. Both were associates of Cass Gilbert in various enterprises.

Tickets are $30 in advance or $40 on the day of the event. For more information:

October 15 and 16, 2011

9th Annual OpenHouseNewYork (OHNY) Weekend

On those days visitors can tour nearly 200 sites of architecture and design significance throughout the five boroughs of New York City, including many that are normally closed to the public. Weekend events also include 150 tours, talks, performances, family activities, and workshops that explore New York City by foot, bus, and bicycle.

Several Cass Gilbert buildings have been included in previous years. For more information and an up-to-date listing closer to the event date, visit The success of OpenHouseNewYork has led to the establishment of similar events in several other cities in the United States, Canada, and Europe.

October 21-23, 2011

CGS TOUR: Cass Gilbert and his Contemporaries in Detroit

Members of the Cass Gilbert Society will visit Detroit October 21-23, 2011, to see Gilbert’s works as well as visit other buildings by several of his contemporaries.

The Detroit Public Library is Gilbert’s major public building in that city. Commissioned in 1913, it was not begun until 1917 and finally completed in 1921. A restrained Beaux-Arts design, it is also notable for an impressive group of murals depicting events in city history that were painted by the Detroit-born artist Gari Melchers and attributes of the arts by New York artist Edwin H. Blashfield. Blashfield had previously worked with Gilbert on several major commissions. The library was expanded in 1960-1963 to designs by Cass Gilbert, Jr., and Francis J. Keally.

The James Scott Memorial Fountain is located at the west end of Belle Isle Park in the narrows of the Detroit River between the United States and Canada. Gilbert won the competition for the fountain in 1914, but it was not built until 1921-1925. In addition to the multi-tiered marble fountain, the design incorporates terraced steps leading to the river and a bronze statue of Scott, executed by Herbert Adams.

Deadline for Tour Registration: October 1, 2011
Click here for a PDF of detailed tour schedule, tour details, and tour registration packet.

Please contact Carolyn Nayematsu or phone her at 651-699-7407, for more information.

November 15, 2011

The Restoration of Waterbury City Hall

A talk by Ted Lentz, AIA, at the University Club about the symposium, The Legacy of Cass Gilbert and the Revitalization of Our Beautiful City, held on April 9, 2011, in Waterbury, Connecticut. It continued the 2011 New Year’s Day grand opening celebration of the $32 million restoration of the Waterbury Municipal Building. Helen Post Curry, Cass Gilbert’s great granddaughter, my wife Ona, and I represented the Cass Gilbert Society at this symposium on architecture, history and community revitalization. Local community leaders and restoration architects who worked on the Waterbury Municipal building were joined by nationally recognized architectural historians and preservation leaders to discuss Waterbury’s past, present and future.

January 26, 2010

Report on Oberlin College Tour

Participants in the Oberlin tour last September will present their impressions and analyses to Cass Gilbert Society members and friends at the University Club, 420 Summit Avenue, Saint Paul, on January 26, 2010, at 7 p.m. Refreshments will be served following the presentation.

Cass Gilbert had a relationship with Oberlin College that stretched from the opening of Finney Chapel in 1908 to the completion of the Quadrangle for the Graduate School of Theology in 1931. As consulting architect to the college, Gilbert also designed the Cox Administration Building (1915), the Allen Memorial Art Museum (1917), and the Allen Memorial Hospital (1925). Working in collaboration with Oberlin President Henry Churchill King and the Olmsted Brothers, he devised a long-range campus plan that would have arranged the college buildings around Tappan Square, the Oberlin town green. While his plan was never executed, it is interesting to compare to Gilbert's plans for the University of Minnesota and the University of Texas.

Tom Blanck and Marjorie Pearson will discuss Gilbert's architecture in Oberlin, as well as the Welzheimer/Johnson House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and built in 1948-1949, and now owned by Oberlin College. Vincent Platt, Carolyn Nayematsu, Jim Law, Jean Velleu and Wendy Weimer, other tour participants, will also offer their impressions.

May 10, 2009


Celebrate Mother’s Day by joining the Cass Gilbert Society in a tour of Cass Gilbert’s work on Summit Hill and Ramsey Hill. Gilbert and his family had long associations with the neighborhood, from his first independent commission, the house he designed in 1882 for his mother Elizabeth Gilbert on Ashland Avenue, to the house he designed for himself on Heather Place, to a wide variety of residences for prosperous clients in fashionable architectural styles. In addition, the tour will view the work of Gilbert’s early partner, James Knox Taylor, and his chief draftsman and protégé, Thomas Holyoke.

The tour will be offered at two times. The first tour will begin at 2:00 p.m.; the second tour will begin at 3:30 p.m. The tours will follow the same route in both time slots. Architects Thomas Blanck and Sonja Mason and architectural historian Marjorie Pearson will be the tour guides. All tours will begin at Lookout Park, at the junction of Summit Avenue and Ramsey Street, east of the University Club, 420 Summit Avenue, Saint Paul. The cost will be $10 for members and $15 for non-members, payable at the beginning of the tour. Each tour participant will receive a tour book that combines information from two previous Cass Gilbert Society tours in the area. For further information, call Marjorie Pearson, 612-338-1987 (days).

September 2008

Living With Cass Gilbert: FALL TOUR, September 28, 2008
Three Architects Describe Their Experiences

Visit three Cass Gilbert-designed houses in Saint Paul on September 28 between 2 and 5 p.m. Architects Gar Hargens, 548 Portland Avenue, and Nicholas Marcucci, 552 Portland Avenue, live in Portland Terrace, at the corner of Kent Street, a Gilbert commission from 1888. The row was built for attorney Leidum Sharpe, who lived with his family at 548 Portland, one of the end houses, and rented out the other four units. The house at 552 Portland is in the middle of the row. Architect Peter O’Brien, 505 Summit Avenue, corner of Mackubin Street, owns the George W. Freeman House (1896), built for the president of the Gotzian Shoe Manufacturing Company. The impressive façade is of Minnesota limestone with Indiana limestone details. O’Brien has been restoring the house to Gilbert’s original design, room by room, since 1990. The three architects will lead tours of their houses, beginning every half hour. Each tour will be limited to 20 participants at a time. Tour participants will move from house to house and can visit the houses in any order. Refreshments will be served on the porch at 505 Summit Avenue. The garden of the property on Summit Avenue west of the Freeman House will also be open for visitors. The cost is $20 for Cass Gilbert Society members and $25 for nonmembers. Tickets will be available at each of the houses.

October 11-15, 2007
Cass Gilbert Society Tour of New York City, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Download the slideshow, "Touring with Cass Gilbert" by Marjorie Pearson [13.4MB PDF]

November 18, 2006
Cass Gilbert Society Four-Day Tour of Central Texas: Austin & San Antonio.

St. Paul Walking Tour, Fall, 2004

St. Paul Lowertown Tour, 2003

Past Lectures


"Book: The Skyscraper and the City"

Gail Fenske, 2009-02-17


"Cass Gilbert: Re-Imaging the Western Landscape"

Katherine Solomonson, 2008-11-11


"The AIA Guide to the Twin Cities"

Larry Millett, 2007-11-13


"The Spirit and the Bride: A History of St. Clement’s Episcopal Church 1893-1996"

Hampton Smith, 2007-09-11


"Cass Gilbert Society Texas Travelers Tour Report"

7 GGS Members, 2007-04-24


"Minnesota State Capitol Restoration"

Michael J. Bjornberg & Robert D. Loveridge, Jr., 2007-02-27

"Historical and Architectural Restoration: State Capitols"

William Seale, 2006-10-31


"Cass Gilbert: Architectural Ambassador"

Marjorie Pearson, 2006-05-09


"The Kerr Block, 1887"

William Morgan, 2006-05-09


"Cass Gilbert in Montana"

Patty Dean, 2006-02-28


"Minnesota Capitol: Centennial Story"

Leigh Roethke, 2005-09-20


"Collecting Minnesota Capitol Memorabilia"

Sheila Smith, 2005-02-15


"Cass Gilbert's Family in Connecticut"

Helen Curry, 2004-10-04


"Cass Gilbert's Origins and Early Career"

Patricia Murphy, 2004-09-14

"Cass Gilbert at the University of Minnesota: Models, Expos, Plans"

>Lance Neckar, 2004-04-20


"Cass Gilbert: Collection at the Library of Congress"

C. Ford Peatross, 2003-11-18


"Minnesota Capitol Design & Decoration"

Sally Webster, 2003-10-14


"Cass Gilbert's Art and Life Abroad"

Paul Larson, 2003-04-29


"Cass Gilbert Society 10-Building Tour, New York City"

10 CGS Members, 2003-02-25


"Cass Gilbert's Architectural Esthetics"

Mary Beth Betts, 2002-09-24


"Saint Paul, Context of Cass Gilbert"

David Lanegran, 2002-04-30


"Minnesota Capitol Approaches & University of Minnesota Planning"

Barbara Christen, 2002-02-05


"Their Cass Gilbert House, West St. Paul"

Neesse & Thomas, 2001-11-03


"Cass Gilbert MIT, Europe, MM&W, St. Paul Railroad

Charles Lock, 2001-09-25


"Cass Gilbert: Politics of Business, 1874-1905"

William Morgan, 2001-04-17


"The Seligman House, Helena, Montana"

Sanchez-Coulter, 2001-02-20


"The Young Cass Gilbert, 1880-1882"

Geoffrey Blodgett, 2000-11-14


"Cass Gilbert Life & Work: the Public Domain"

Steven Flanders, 2000-10-03


"Modern Traditionalist: His Esthetics"

Sharon Irish, 2000-04-25


"Cass Gilbert: Lost Early Work - 1883-1886"

Paul Larson, 2000-02-22


"Bethlehem Presbyterian Church"

Tom Blanck, 1999-11-16


"Cass Gilbert: Woolworth Building, New York City"

Gail Fenske, 1999-10-19


"Cass Gilbert: Early Years, From His Start"

>Geoffrey Blodgett, 1999-05-08


"MN Capitol"-Kompelien "Politics, Preservation"

O'Sullivan, 1999-03-23


"A Book: Minnesota's State Capitol"

Herb Grika, 1999-01-02