Ice Palace


Courtesy the Minnesota Historical Society

Ice Palace
Alexander Cowper Hutchison
St. Paul Winter Carnival
  • Architecture

St. Paul’s first Winter Carnival took place in 1886 in Central Park. A series of events spurred the Chamber of Commerce to create the event: a negative news report in a New York newspaper declared the city “another Siberia, unfit for human habitation;” Montreal, which created the first great ice palace that became a tourist attraction, was suffering from a smallpox epidemic; and to celebrate the fact that St. Paul had become the fastest-growing city in the country, tripling its size in just six years. The first Winter Carnival included parades, skiing, snowshoeing, toboggan rides, a blanket tossing contest, and push ball, a game played with giant balls. The most successful attraction was its giant Ice Palace, which consisted of 20,000 blocks of ice cut from local lakes and towered 106 feet high. The spectacular structure was designed by A.C. Hutchison, a Montreal-based architect, who was responsible for that city’s famed ice palaces of the late nineteenth century. The St. Paul Winter Carnival was a success and continues today as an annual event each January.