A Selection of Saint Paul Sites of F. Scott Fitzgerald


Early Childhood

1896, Fitzgerald Home, 481 Laurel Avenue

F. Scott Fitzgerald was born on September 24, 1896 in his parents’ apartment. The three-story apartment building, located between Selby and Summit Avenues is in Saint Paul’s Ramsey Hill neighborhood. Today, the building is a National Literary Landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places.


Boyhood

1908, St. Paul Academy, 25 North Dale Street

In 1908, after living in Buffalo, the Fitzgerald family returned to Saint Paul and Scott began school at the Saint Paul Academy. In 1909, at age 13, Scott won his first byline with the publication of a short story in the school magazine.

1908-09, Louisa McQuillan Residence, 294 Laurel Avenue

After Fitzgerald’s father, Edward, was fired from his job in Buffalo, New York, the family returned to Saint Paul, and his grandmother, Louisa McQuillan, welcomed Scott and his sister Annabel into her home. Their parents initially lived separately from their children, sharing a home with a family friend on Summit Avenue, and then the family reunited and moved into 294 Laurel in 1909 when grandmother McQuillan went on a tour of Europe.
 

1909-1913, Fitzgerald Residences, 514, 509, and 499 Holly Avenue

The Fitzgerald family moved frequently, living in stately row houses and Victorian style houses in the Ramsey Hill neighborhood.

1912 Ames Residence, 501 Grand Hill

As a boy, Scott visited his friend Thomas Ames at his family’s home. The elegant house had a large yard with a tree house, and it was a popular destination for neighborhood children. Fitzgerald used the house as an idyllic setting in a Basil Duke Lee story published in the Saturday Evening Post.


Adolescence

1915, Town and Country Club, 2279 Marshall Avenue

Scott enrolled at Princeton University at 1913, but he visited Saint Paul each summer. He and his friends threw parties at the Town and Country Club. Activities included bobsledding, sleigh rides, dancing, and drinking hot chocolate.  At a bob party in 1915, Scott met Ginevra King, his first great love. Their romance lasted for two years, sustained by letters and visits while the pair were both away at college.
 

1914-15, Fitzgerald Residence, 593 Summit Avenue 

The Fitzgerald family moved into one of eight residences in a brownstone building on  prestigious Summit Avenue. Both ill with a mild case of tuberculosis and behind in all of his classes, Scott left Princeton for eight months and lived with his parents on Summit Avenue. Here, Fitzgerald wrote “The Spire and the Gargoyle,” a story later incorporated into his first novel, This Side of Paradise.


Adulthood

1918-19, Fitzgerald Residence, 599 Summit Avenue 

Once again, the Fitzgeralds moved, this time into a three-story apartment building on Summit Avenue near Dale Street. Fitzgerald joined the army in 1917 and met Zelda Sayre while stationed in Mongtomery, Alabama. The two fell in love, but Zelda hesitated to marry a financially unsuccessful Fitzgerald. After a brief stint in the New York City advertising world, Fitzgerald returned to Saint Paul, where he finished This Side of Paradise in a quiet third-floor room at 599 Summit. In 1972, the National Register of Historic Places formally recognized 599 Summit Avenue.
 

1919, W. A. Frost’s Pharmacy, 372 Selby Avenue

Now a popular restaurant, W. A. Frost’s Pharmacy was a frequent hangout for Fitzgerald and his friends during the summer of 1919. Fitzgerald took breaks from writing This Side of Paradise to wander Selby Avenue in search of inspiration and companions.
 

1921, Fitzgerald Residence, 14 Highway 96, White Bear Lake

Following their marriage and the publication of his book, Scott and Zelda, returned to Minnesota and rent a cottage in White Bear Lake. Zelda was pregnant, and Scott planned to devote himself to writing. Instead, their lives consisted of a slew of parties at the cottage, with friends, newspaper reporters and fans frequently visiting the Fitzgeralds.
 

1921, Commodore Hotel, 19 Western Avenue

Evicted from the White Bear Lake cottage, Scott and Zelda moved into the luxurious Commodore Hotel, awaiting the birth of their first child.  A speakeasy was said to have operated in the basement of the Hotel.

1921, Fitzgerald Residence, 626 Goodrich Avenue

After the birth of their daughter, Zelda and Scott moved to a Victorian home, which they shared with a friend’s relatives. Fitzgerald also worked in a small office in downtown Saint Paul, where he wrote short stories and polished his second novel, The Beautiful and the Damned.

1922, University Club, 420 Summit Avenue

Scott and Zelda were regulars at the well-heeled University Club, where they attended dances and spent evenings in the bar. Together, the Fitzgeralds once published a spoof newspaper poking fun at University Club regulars, which they distributed at a formal ball.
 

1922, White Bear Yacht Club, 56 Dellwood Avenue, White Bear Lake

Ready for a change of pace, Zelda and Scott left Saint Paul for the White Bear Yacht Club. They went to dances, plays, and parties – perhaps too many parties, for the Fitzgeralds were asked to leave the club. They returned to the Commodore Hotel, where they stayed until leaving Saint Paul permanently.


Today

The Fitzgerald Theater, Fitzgerald Statue in Rice Park, and Fitzgerald Alcove at Central Library 

Saint Paul celebrates F. Scott Fitzgerald daily with a bronze statue of the beloved author in Rice Park.  Nearby, the Fitzgerald Theater is a popular venue for music, comedy, and theater, and the Saint Paul Public Library maintains an alcove of Fitzgerald materials and information in the historic Central Library, also on Rice Park.

 

Sources:

Koblas, John. F. Scott Fitzgerald in Minnesota: His Homes & Haunts. Saint Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1978.

Koblas, John and Page, David. F. Scott Fitzgerald in Minnesota: Toward the Summit. St. Cloud: North Star Press, 1996.