History behind bars. Our work at the state’s historic Saint Cloud facility enabled modifications needed to bring the nineteenth-century facility up to twenty-first-century standards.
Construction on the Minnesota State Reformatory began in 1887. The facility was originally intended to be the state’s second prison, but almost immediately became a reformatory in response to widespread penal reforms. The purpose of the Minnesota State Reformatory for Men was to provide job training and improve the character of male offenders between the ages of sixteen and thirty so they would not become hardened criminals. The Breen and Young Granite Quarry—the oldest quarry in Minnesota—was incorporated into the facility. It provided work for inmates and stone for the walls and buildings.
J. Walter Stevens, a Saint Paul architect, designed the earliest buildings in the complex. Between 1910 and 1935, an increasing inmate population led to a major building campaign. Clarence Johnston, another Saint Paul architect, was hired for the job and designed twelve buildings and five structures in the district. The majority of the buildings that survive from the district’s period of significance (1887-1933) remain relatively unaltered
The rising rate of incarceration in recent years required improvements to the intake facilities. We prepared a technical report evaluating the effects of proposed modifications to the historic district and wrote the relevant section of an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW). Before construction commenced, we documented areas that would be affected for the Minnesota Historic Property Record.