Welcome to Summit-University

Summit-University is a St. Paul neighborhood that is considered economically and ethnically diverse. It has a high concentration of Southeast Asians, including the Hmong, Cambodians, Laotians, and the Vietnamese. It includes the Cathedral Hill neighborhood and what remains of  Rondo neighborhood. Rondo was a thriving African American city since the Civil War, but not much of it remains today. Baseball great, Dave Winfield, is from Summit-University, and F. Scott Fitzgerald was born here, even though he's better known for living in Summit Hill.

Then and Now

Summit-University was established in the 1880s/1890s with a mixture of apartment buildings and duplexes next to mansions.It was called the Hill District at this time and considered one of the best solidly middles-class neighborhoods in America in the 1930s. Summit-University has had its ups and downs since then, but it's once again considered a comfortable neighborhood in which to live. It's populated with historic homes, Victorian-style houses, apartment buildings, townhouses, and single-family homes. It has several retail areas in the neighborhood, and it's close to downtown.

Boundaries

University Avenue to the north, Marion Street/Summit Avenue to the east, Irving Avenue/Summit Avenue to the south, and Lexington Pkwy to the west.

Bordering Neighborhoods

Lexington-Hamline South, East Midway, Thomas-Dale (Frogtown), Capitol, Downtown, West Seventh, Summit Hill.

Crime Stats

Here is an online source that speak to the crime levels and statistics in Summit-University.

Trulia Crime Stats

Parks

Carty Park (705 Iglehart Ave., 651-266-6400) is a lovely neighborhood park just perfect for picnics with plenty of tables and BBQ grills. It also has a half-court basketball court and two tennis courts. There's a playground for kids as well. It also participates in the Roaming Rec program in which outdoor activities are planned for kids in various parks around St. Paul.

Central Village Park (457 Central Ave. W, 651-632-5111) is a neighborhood park that is perfect to visit if you just want to relax, walk the trails that run through it, or play tennis on one of the two enclosed tennis courts. Take a minute out of your busy day to just breathe here.

Cochran Park (375 Summit Ave., 651-632-5111) is a small neighborhood park which is primarily known for its infamous bronze statue, Indian Hunter and His Dog. The statue is in the middle of a fountain, and it's a nice place to take a break. There's a playground for the kids as well.

McQuillan Park (515 Laurel Ave., 651-266-6400) is a small neighborhood park with a tennis court, a playground, and an open space with shade trees under which you can rest.

Nathan Hale Park (401 Summit Ave., 651-632-5111) is a serene and peaceful park with several historical statues, including one of Nathan Hale himself, of course, in bronze. There is also a skating rink for those who like to skate. It's the perfect place for a mid-day mini-retreat.

Summit Overlook Park (418 Summit Ave., 651-632-5111) is so named because it overlook Ramsey Street. It's shaped in a triangle and is home to an infamous bronze sculpture called New York Eagle. It also offers a free outdoor exercise program called Fitness in the Parks.

Webster Park (700 Laurel Ave., 651-632-5111) is a great place for the youth to hang out and perhaps shoot a hoop or two. There is a half-court basketball court, a tennis court, a softball field, a playground, and a picnic area.

Western Sculpture Park (387 Marion St., 651-266-8989) was simply Western Park until Public Art St. Paul started planning an sculpture exhibition in the park. They began doing this in 1998, and the name was changed in 2015 to recognize the dedication Public Art St. Paul has shown to providing art to the public in this park. They worked with the Saint Paul Parks and Recreation under the invitation of the Fuller Aurora Association to design the park so that they (Public Art St. Paul) could install larger sculptures in it. They wanted to be a unifying force with the diverse communities within the neighborhood, and Western Sculpture Park is a now a source of pride to the community.

Restaurants

Bon Vie Cafe (485 Selby Ave., 651-287-0112) is a casual, comfortable neighborhood bistro that serves breakfast and lunch in a cozy environment. They use only the freshest of ingredients, and they change their menus monthly to keep things interesting. If there's something you're craving that's not on the menu, just ask them! If they have the ingredients they need, they'll make it for you.

Cheng Heng Restaurant (448 University Ave. W, 651-222-5577) is an open and airy Cambodian/Chinese restaurant that has won several awards for its food. They have Cambodian salads, including larb, entrees such as chha kroeng, and noodle soups. They also have desserts such as thuck kaw chuew.

Fitzgerald's (173 Western Ave. N, 651-291-4012) is named for hometown boy, Scott Fitzgerald. He was known to love his neighborhood haunts, and Fitzgerald's strives to provide that to the modern day community. Try the jalapeno and cheddar croquettes, pan-seared scallops, or the fried fish sandwich paired with an Author's Note (cocktail) or left hand milk stout to wet your whistle.

J. Selby's (169 N Victoria St., 651-222-3263) serves plant-based food that is as tasty as it is good for you. They had a dream to bring a plant-based eatery to the Twin Cities, and that dream came true in 2017. Their ingredients are organically-sourced when possible, and their dishes are suitable for a vegan diet. They have plenty of gluten-free options, too. In addition, their entire menu is Kosher, except when marked with an asterisk (*). They have burgers such as the Buffalo soy curl wrap, chili, wraps, soups, salads, and more. They have desserts as well, including brownies and carrot cake.

La Grolla (452 Selby Ave., 651-221-1061) is an upscale yet inviting restaurant that opened in 2003 with the intent to serve traditional Italian cuisine. They have an extensive menu, ranging from the familiar such as fettuccine alfredo and penne alla vodka v to more adventurous dishes such as cartaccio and filetto di maiale al pepe verde. They also have a respectable wine list and patio dining.

Little Szechuan Hot Pot (422 University Ave. W, 651-222-1333) is the only 100% authentic Szechuan hot pot restaurant in the Twin Cities. Hot pot means a hot pot in the middle of the table, and you throw in whatever ingredients you want to cook them in front of you. It's a fun and communal way to eat, so bring plenty of friends when you visit.

New Louisiana Cafe (613 Selby Ave., 651-221-9140) is a diner that serves up hot breakfasts and lunches with a Cajun twist. Nothing fancy, just good old-fashioned hearty American fare. They have chocolate chip dough pancakes as one of their more modern dishes and a Zydeco French toast that will dance on your tongue. For lunch, try the Louisiana burger or the catfish sandwich.

Revival (525 Selby Ave., 651-340-2355) is a classic Southern-style fried chicken restaurant. It has a casual yet classy atmosphere, and the menu has several options, including gluten-friendly and options for people with celiac. The menu includes fried chicken livers with pea tendrils and revival sauce, several kinds of fried chicken, and pork belly. Their sides include creamed corn, mac + cheese, and bourbon carrots.

Tori Ramen (161 N Victoria St., 651-340-4955) is a pork-free ramen joint that patterns itself after traditional Japanese ramen house. It's no-muss, no-fuss, and it's all about the noodles. Everything is made from scratch, and they pride themselves on that. They use organic chicken and free-range duck from local farms, and they stand behind every bowl of ramen they produce.

W.A. Frost and Company (374 Selby Ave., 651-224-5715) is an upscale restaurant that serves contemporary American fare. They have been serving St. Paul for over forty years since 1975, and are well-known around town for their exemplary fare. They also have patio dining in the summer. Even though the food is upscale, the atmosphere is relaxed, and the staff is friendly and knowledgeable. They work intimately with local artisans and farmers to procure the finest and freshest ingredients. They have an extensive menu that includes duck confit hash for brunch, an artichoke grilled cheese sandwich for lunch, and rigatoncini arrabbiata for dinner. Don't forget to check out the dessert menu and their artisan cheese plates as well. Oh, and of course, enjoy a glass of wine, a cocktail, or a beer with your meal.

Shopping

Anna's Healing Massage (777 Selby Ave., Suite C, 651-321-2227) is focused on deep tissue, trigger points, and sports massages, but can provide a more relaxing massage as well if so desired. The aim is to tailor the massage to what the client needs, and to do so in a comfortable and safe environment.

BlackBlue (614 Selby Ave., 651-260-5340) is an upscale boutique for men (with a few women's options as well), and they have several denim products as well. Quality products with exceptional service. You couldn't ask for anything more.

Capitol Guitars (644 Selby Ave., 651-225-8888) is the place to go for a rocking good time. They know their guitars, and they are more than willing to share their knowledge with you. Whether you're into electric guitars, acoustic guitars, or bass, you'll find what you need here. They have amplifiers and other accessories as well, and they do repairs, too. They offer lessons as well if you want to bone up on your chops.

Estetica Salon & Day Spa (165 Western Ave. N, 651-228-9327) is an Aveda salon & spa, and their goal is to pamper you as they do their magic. They are all about positivity and relaxation, and they want to make sure you feel your best after they are done giving you the look you want.

Get Gorgeous Salon & Spa (878 Selby Ave., 651-291-8997) celebrates their multicultural clientele in providing unique hairstyles and makeup for each client. The team is passionate about their craft, and they're willing and eager to share that passionate with their clients. Their focus is on the clients, and they want to make sure that each client looks like a million bucks when walking out of their salon.

Sense of Style Hair Salon (920 Selby Ave., 651-645-3000) is more than just a hair salon. They also do makeup, so it's a one-stop beauty shop! They have a diverse clientele which they serve with passion. When it comes to hair, they do everything from thermal straightening to extensions and everything in between. They focus on one client at a time, giving each client their full attention. Everyone deserves to be pampered once in awhile.

Serenity Massage (400 Selby Ave., Suite F, 612-229-7262) believes in the healing power of massage, and they offer a variety of massages. Sports, shiatsu, deep tissue, therapeutic, and prenatal are just a few of the options they offer. No matter which type you choose, it's guarantee to do your body good.

Sewing Lounge (987 Selby Ave., 651-645-7645) is a cozy and colorful fabric shop that has something for every sewer, whether you're a beginner or an expert. They also have space for you to work on your projects as they give you support. They sometimes offer classes as well, which will help advance your skills.

Statera Fitness (1025 Selby Ave., 651-225-4737) is a locally-owned fitness center with a variety of options. They have yoga classes, spin classes, other classes, massage therapy, personal trainers, and more. You can customize your workout to what works best for you, and they will be eager to help you achieve your goals.

Urban Village SalonSpa (134 Western Ave. N, 651-330-8404) opened in 2012 as an upscale boutique salon. Their purpose is to uplift their clients to be the best they possibly can be. They educate themselves on the latest styles and fashions, and they will make you feel beautiful when you walk out the door.

Nightlife

The Commodore Bar & Restaurant (79 Western Ave. N, 651-330-5999) hearkens back to the days of speakeasies and gangsters. The bar is Art Deco and upscale, and soaked in tradition. They believe in giving back to the community and are involved in several charitable causes. If you feel like getting dolled up and having a night on the town, this is the place for you. Try the corn-crusted cheese curds, the curried cauliflower, or the Duroc pork chops while sipping on a Fitzgerald or a Zelda. You'll have a toe-tapping good time.

Fabulous Fern's Bar & Grill (400 Selby Ave., 651-225-9414) is an eclectic bar that has a little bit of this and a little bit of that. It's a neighborhood bar that wants to know your name, and its service with a friendly smile. They serve burgers, fish done several ways, and other comfort foods. Grab a beer while you're at it, and maybe play a game of darts.

Moscow on the Hill (371 Selby Ave., 651-291-1236) serves traditional Russian fare--and vodka. Plenty of vodka. Blini with caviar, Russian herring, and pirozhok are all on the menu, and for dessert, try the classic Pushkin's torte. If you're thirsty, try one of their vodkas or a cocktail or martini.

Red Cow Restaurant & Bar (393 Selby Ave., 651-789-0545) is a neighborhood tavern with a focus on fine dining. They have gourmet burgers, craft brews, and an impeccable wine list. Their shareables include ahi crisps and caramel-bacon puffcorn, and you have to try one of their several creative burgers while you're there--maybe the Breakfast. They have scratch soups and plenty of green sides as well. They also have breakfast foods, desserts, and sandwiches.

Sweeney's Salon (96 Dale St. N, 651-221-9157) is a casual neighborhood watering hole where you can relax with your friends and enjoy a craft beer. They've been a neighborhood fixture for over 35 years, and they have patio seating as well. Try the tater tot kegs, the chili cheese burger, or the walleye sandwich. Make sure you check out trivia nights on Sunday.

The Happy Gnome (498 Selby Ave., 651-287-2018) is serious about their craft beer (89 on tap) and pairing them with their culinary offerings. They have been serving the community for over ten years. They support local growers, and they are committed to providing fresh and tasty dishes. They have Shrimp Creole and duck mac n' cheese. Pair it with a drink (they are known for their scotch and whiskey as well, and then finish off your evening with a dessert such as their citrus tart.

Community Arts & Recreation

Martin Luther King Recreation Center (271 Mackubin St., 651-290-8695) has many activities for people of all ages, including open gym, dance studio rentals, other rental space, athletics, and more. They also offer a variety of classes ranging from martial arts to dance, the latter including classes from the Dominion Dance Company.

Oxford Community Center (270 Lexington Pkwy. N, 651-642-0650) is located in the heart of the historic Rondo neighborhood, and it includes the Jimmy Lee Recreation Center and the Great River Water Park, which is a year-round swimming facility. It has an open gym, athletics for both youth and adults, field rentals, other rental spaces, and plenty of other activities, including educational programs.

Penumbra Theatre Company (270 Kent St., 651-224-3180) was founded in 1976 to speak creatively and artistically about the African American experience. Since that time, it has grown into a nationally-recognized and respected theater. Not only are they committed to putting on plays that will be thought-provoking as well as heartfelt, they are passionate about bringing the arts to the next generation. They have a summer institute and internships for this express purpose.

SteppingStone Theatre (55 N Victoria St., 651-225-9265) dedicates itself to teaching kids about theater, both through classes and through fully-staged productions in order to install in them a lifelong appreciation of theater. They believe in nurturing talent in a non-competitive way, and they embrace and celebrate diversity. They were established in 1987 and since then, they have had more than 750,000 children, family/friends, and educators participating and/or attending SteppingStone Theatre events.

Events

Transportation

Both Route 21 and 65 run through the Summit-University neightborhood. You can find the schedules at Metro Transit.

The neighborhood is also served by the METRO Green Line.

Schools

Barack and Michelle Obama Elementary (707 Holly Ave., 651-293-8625) believes in engaging the parents as well as the students, and they are truly a community-based school. They encourage their students to explore all the ways that people of African descent have made contributions in America and around the world.

Capitol Hill Gifted and Talented Magnet (560 Concordia Ave., 651-325-2500) are committed to supported gifted children. They know that gifted kids need as much nurturing as any other child, and they are passionate about providing an environment in which their students can thrive. They believe in promoting emotional and social skills as well as fostering academic excellence.

Maxfield Elementary School (380 N Victoria St., 651-293-8680) has been serving the Rondo neighborhood for 125 years, and they are committed to being a great community school. They encourage their students' natural curiosity by providing a variety of learning experiences, be it academic or playing the African drums. They know the best way to help their students succeed is by involving their family and community in the process.

J.J. Montessori Magnet School (998 Selby Ave., 651-293-8720) believes in using tactical experiences to develop critical thinking. They focus on helping their kids develop social and emotional skills as well as perform well academically. They are also proud to be a peace site, which means they foster peace-making skills among their students through activities, plays, and presentations.

St. Thomas More Catholic School (1065 Summit Ave., 651-224-4836) is a private Catholic school that has preschool, elementary school, and middle school classes. They believe in providing a rigorous academic training that also allows for creativity, questioning, and exploration. They do this through interdisciplinary classes, curriculum tailored to each student's needs, and highly-engaged teachers. Their goal is to provide their students with both religious and community leadership abilities in order to positively navigate life after school.

© Copyright 2019 - Steven Hong - All Rights Reserved
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