Memorial planned for final Rondo neighborhood building on November 2
Memorial services are being planned by Rondo Avenue, Inc. (RAI) for one of the last two remaining members of the original Rondo neighborhood family of buildings in St. Paul, which succumbed suddenly to the wrecking ball on Saturday, September 18. The building at 820-822 Rondo Avenue was 97 years old. It was preceded in destruction by more than 80 siblings, who developed terminal cases of eminent domain beginning in the late 1950s.
The building was born on the corner of Rondo and Fisk in 1916 and served as the home of Emmett McGill’s Grocery Store until 1957. It developed many interests as a youngster, and over the years divided itself into to three sections to serve various occupations.
At the street level, a section dubbed 822 Rondo hosted Nicholas Kallar’s Barbershop (1930-1940), Abraham Cooperman’s Tailor Shop (1940-1950), Victoria’s Cleaners & Jake Love Tailor Shop (1950-1959), and the Richard and Raymond Young Brothers Barbershop (1959-1975).
In 1958, the upstairs using 327 Fisk Street became the office of the Dining Car Employees Local #516. That same year McGill’s Grocery gave way to Royal Gooden’s Ice Cream Shop and the Pivot Restaurant for several years.
In 1961, the building took a patriotic turn and enlisted in military service as the VFW Twin Star Post 8854. The fervor of its patrons to toast their country was so strong that the building united in 1975, with the upstairs becoming the headquarters of the organization and, in 1983, the headquarters of RAI, while downstairs served as a meeting and social gathering lounge for thousands of patrons over the years.
The building retired from active service in 2005, and, like many retirees, lay dormant in its final years.
Services will be held on Saturday, November 2, at 2 pm at Brooks Funeral Home, 862 Concordia Avenue, St. Paul. Friends and acquaintances of the deceased are invited to share their grief by telling their favorite stories of 820-822 Rondo.
Weather permitting, the memorial will be followed by a neo-traditional African Libation ceremony performed by the master drummer Uncle Kwasi and George Sanders at the site of 820-822 Rondo to consecrate the passing of the structure. The bereaved are also invited to commiserate at Arnellia’s On the Avenue, 1183 University Ave. W., St Paul, from 3:30 – 5:30 pm.
For further information, contact Marvin Roger Anderson of Rondo Avenue Inc. at 651-402-0095 or [email protected]
Memoriam provided by Rondo Avenue Inc.