Rice Park Revitalization


A World Class Park in the Heart of Downtown St. Paul

Neighborhood: Downtown

Amount Raised: $1 Million plus a $250,000 maintenance fund

Project Partners: Saint Paul Garden Club, City of Saint Paul Parks and Recreation, Rice Park Association

Project Background

Rice Park has served as the first city public square, the centerpiece of downtown Saint Paul since its designation in 1849. Today the park is alive, hosting daily visitors, weddings and annual festivals making it a four season destination which has provided more visitors to Rice Park than ever before.

The revitalization of Rice Park was completed in June 2019. The re-designed park complements the focused investment in downtown Saint Paul, providing a welcoming space for all members of the community to enjoy the heart of the city.

After COVID related delays, the final touch will be in place in 2021 – an imaginative LED and metal lighting feature wrapping the fountain designed by artist Jeff Bartlett. Ongoing support from past donors and new friends alike will help grow the maintenance fund to keep this park downtown’s jewel for years to come.

Learn more about the Rice Park Renovation Project on the
City of Saint Paul’s Website

Rice Park Improvements

The redesign adds more green space for family gatherings and public events, electrical upgrades with additional lighting and trees for shade in the fountain plaza.  A new irrigation system was added to ensure adequate moisture for the green space, trees and garden areas, resulting in a healthier, more colorful and beautiful Rice Park.

The historic fountain was kept in place with the addition of artistic, seasonal light features.  The plaza received new permeable paving, signature tables and chairs plus a new east-west pathway from Market and Washington Streets better connects the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts and The Saint Paul Hotel.  The location of the stage and open lawn areas provide an area for concerts, dramatizations and other artistic expressions, while enhancements to the electrical power adds to the event capabilities in the park.

More gardens were added giving the park  constant color and interest throughout the year. Safety bump outs were added at all four corners, and a seat wall was reconstructed at the bus stop.

Rice Park History

Since 1849, nine years before Minnesota was admitted into the United States of America, Rice Park has served as the centerpiece of downtown Saint Paul.  Rice Park was named after Minnesota Senator Henry M. Rice who, with Saint Paul banker John Irvine, donated the land in the downtown district.  In 1860, the city planted shade trees and in the early 1870s a bandstand and fountain were added. Rice Park served as the focal point for the first Saint Paul Winter Carnival in 1886.

Men read newspapers on benches in Rice Park in this undated photo, sometime between 1914 and 1917. Construction of the Latimer Central Library can be seen in the background. (Pioneer Press file photo)

The Saint Paul Garden Club

City of Saint Paul Parks & Recreation

Rice Park Association