MOST OF US who’ve frequented St. Paul’s W.A. Frost restaurant over the years know that its digs in the grand Dacotah Building, at Selby and Western avenues, originally housed the W. A. Frost & Co. drugstore.
Built in 1889—16 years before construction began on the Cathedral of St. Paul—the splendid Richardson Romanesque building provided swell apartments and fine shops for the prosperous grandees settling Lower Summit Avenue and surrounding blocks overlooking downtown St. Paul. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places.
W.A. Frost restaurant, which opened in 1975, features historic photos of the original W.A. Frost pharmacy on its website—but it turns out the building has had a more interesting mercantile history than many of us knew.
The Minnesota Historical Society archives unexpectedly yielded a photo of a grocery store called Schoch & Co, operating in the Dacotah Building in 1901. Presumably this store was a branch of the large Andrew Schoch Grocery that flourished for from 1874 until the 1950s on the edge of Lowertown, at 282 East Seventh Street. That building, which occupied an entire city block between Broadway and Wall (previously Rosabel), was razed in 1959. (See images below.)
In the Dacotah, the grocery occupied the middle section of the building, next door to the corner pharmacy. Looking at the building today, Schoch & Co. would have been just to the right of the space the wonderful Paper Patisserie gift shop has occupied for the past 25+ years.
No idea how long the Schoch grocery operated in the Dacotah Building, although I’ll try to find out. Meantime, I’ll just keep admiring the spectacular Dacotah Building … and am always happy to hang out in the great bar at W.A. Frost, still and always a favorite Twin Cities haunt. (More recently, I’ve fallen in love with the downstairs lounge.)