Trivia from Our Archives

Check out fun facts and photos from the St. Croix Collection, the local history resource of Stillwater Public Library!
Browse through books, photographs, maps, and clippings files focused on the city of Stillwater, the St. Croix Valley, and Washington County, Minnesota.

What was the class yell and motto of the Stillwater High School class of ’19?
1919 that is.

Class Yell: S-e-n-I-o-r-s, S-e-n-I-o-r-s, Seniors, Seniors, SHS!
Class Motto: Out of the valley, into the open road!

Photos, invitation, graduation program and class information is from The Girl Graduate, Her Own Book. This special scrapbook journal details Bessie Bernstein’s years at Stillwater High School as a member of the class of 1919. Bessie’s graduation photo is shown above.

Stop by the St. Croix Collection and check out this amazing scrapbook by a Stillwater Senior one hundred years ago, or view the scrapbook online at Minnesota Reflections digital archive.

Our thanks to the Bernstein family for this donation.

Where is Little Venice?

North of Stillwater on the St. Croix River between the High Bridge and Boom Site Landing

The tree-shaded channels of the St. Croix River between the High Bridge and Boom Site Landing were nicknamed “Little Venice” by locals in the early 1900s. This 1924 photograph by John Runk depicts a canoe pass between the isles of Little Venice. A unique segment of the St. Croix River, Little Venice marks the transition between the meandering river to the north and the deep lake-like water to the south. The islands are formed from sand deposited by the slowing St. Croix.

Read more about the history of the river and find mentions of Little Venice in two books found in the library’s St. Croix Collection —The St. Croix River: Midwest Border River by James Taylor Dunn and Stillwater by Brent Peterson. Stop by the library to view historic photographs of the St. Croix, part of the Runk collection featuring Stillwater and the surrounding area between 1860 to the 1960s.
 
“From here to Stillwater the main channel was not for us. We explored, instead, the sylvan, shaded wonders of Little Venice Canal – one of the many catfish trails of the lower river . . .”
-Author James Taylor Dunn, The St. Croix River: Midwest Border River

What year was The Teenagers Dike created to help save downtown Stillwater from flooding?

1965
Heavy rain and snow runoff raised the St. Croix River above flood stage in 1965. Residents, students and even inmates from the Minnesota Correctional Facility came together beginning April 10 to build a dike to save downtown Stillwater. There were so many teens helping fill sandbags, there was a sign naming it The Teenagers Dike. By April 15, government officials closed off downtown to foot and vehicle traffic. The River crested at 694.07 feet above sea level on April 18. The Teenagers Dike held fast! Downtown reopened April 21. You can see still the sign at the Washington County Historical Society (wchsmn.org).

What building served as Stillwater’s first reading room and public library?

The Jassoy Building
Immediately west of the junction of Chestnut and Third Street is the Jassoy Building, built by Theodore Jassoy in 1886. He and his son Herman owned and ran one of the finest harness and saddlery shops in Stillwater and in the state.  The building, known as the Jassoy block, housed the family on the second level of the building with businesses on the first and a meeting hall for the Stillwater Lodge No. 7, Knights of Pythias on the third. In a blurry photo of the building taken in 1898 (not shown), the southernmost window of the lower level has the words “Public Reading Room” inscribed. The year the photo was taken was the year the first Board of Directors of the Stillwater Public Library was formed and had their initial meeting in August. At this meeting, it was moved that the first floor of this block ‘will be leased for a term of 3 years at a rental of $50 per month’ from Jassoy for use as a library, with the understanding that the rooms on the first floor would be connected and supplied with additional lighting and adequate heat. This was the inception of the library that has transformed into what we now have today.