In 1907, St. Paul businessman and inventor Oliver Crosby purchased twenty-eight acres of land on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River in St. Paul. There, he built a twenty thousand square foot brick estate that he called Stonebridge. In his book Once There Were Castles, author Larry Millett claims that Stonebridge was “the greatest estate ever built in St. Paul.”
The house was remarkable, but the grounds were what visitors raved about. There were two artificial lakes, large sunken gardens, a 100-foot-long pergola, and a reservoir that fed a series of waterfalls that flowed beneath the picturesque stone bridge that gave the house its name.
Crosby only lived at Stonebridge for six years; he died in 1922. Most of the property around Stonebridge was sold off after Crosby’s wife Elizabeth died, but the mansion stayed intact until 1944 when it was tax-forfeited to the state. Unable to find a use for the mansion, the state demolished Stonebridge in 1953.
Como Park Zoo & Conservatory boasts two of the few public remnants of the once-grand estate. A large frog from the gardens of Stonebridge can be found near the main entrance of the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory. Even more impressive, the original brick entry gate to Stonebridge was donated to the park and re-erected by the WPA at the west entrance in 1937. You can visit the gates at the intersection of Hamline Avenue N and Midway Parkway.