Downtown Commerical Historic District

The Stillwater Commercial Historic District is considered a locally significant historical resource that was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992. The district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places under National Register Criteria A and C: Architecture and Commerce. The historic contexts for this multi-property district are “The Development of Stillwater, 1860 – 1940,” and “St. Croix Triangle Lumbering, 1839 – 1914.” The primary period of significance covers the period from the 1860s to 1911, although significant elements represent dates as late as 1940. The district contains primarily commercial properties as well as a few properties directly connected with the lumbering industry.


Stillwater’s Main Street is lined by a high concentration of two- to three-story yellow or red brick commercial buildings, representing a diversity of nineteenth- and twentieth-century styles reflecting national architectural trends that were popular between 1870 and 1940: Italianate, Queen Anne, Richardsonian, Classical Revival, and early 20th Century commercial. The district also contains a number of 1860s and 1870s structures constructed of limestone representing a very early period of development in Minnesota. These storefronts and commercial buildings wrap around corners to the side streets as well, encompassing the majority of Stillwater’s central business district. Loss of this historic commercial fabric, and subsequent infill development, has been minimal. The result is an unusually cohesive historic district with a high degree of integrity of design and feeling.


The Commercial Historic District includes most of Stillwater’s central business district and stretches from Nelson Street on the south to Commercial Street on the north, and from the St. Croix River on the east to approximately the alley just west of Main Street. The district includes approximately 11 blocks, which make up most of the downtown commercial area. The Commercial Historic District includes 82 properties, which are a collection of late nineteenth-century commercial structures representing the economic development of Stillwater. Of these 82 properties, 63 properties are considered to contribute to the Stillwater Commercial Historic District’s significance.


The city is committed to preserving its historic resources and has established a Heritage Preservation Commission. The purpose of the commission is to safeguard historic resources, and to foster and promote the preservation and continued use of historic sites. Under this commission, Stillwater has also designated the Stillwater Commercial Historic District as a local heritage preservation district. Any alterations or construction/improvements to buildings within the district are subject to review by the Stillwater Heritage Preservation Commission. The Stillwater Commercial Historic District lies within the Stillwater Cultural Landscape District.