7th Place is Saint Paul's only pedestrian mall, and one of the most interesting areas of the city.
It’s beautiful in the winter and even more so in the summer, with trees overhanging patios, red brick underfoot and historic buildings of various eras on both sides. You can find food and drink, home brews, an eclectic mix local music and international jazz, karaoke, theater and even, during warmer months, a farmer’s market often accompanied by performing artists, outdoor music and other arts and crafts.
The Mall is home to the brewpub Great Water’s Brewing Company and their year-round patio, the Artist’s Quarter jazz club directly downstairs and Wild Tymes and the Palace Stage just across the way. The Park Square Theater is one door over with Artist Mercantile, a gift shop selling only the work of local artists just after that. On the other end of the mall lies a Bruegger's Bagels and a Walgreens and, coming very soon, a taqueria with a creative name: Tacos, Nachos and Beer.
Yet I can't help but feel like something is missing.
7th Place Mall is also home to the Palace Theatre. Not to be confused with Wild Tymes' Palace Stage, the theater was originally built in 1916 for vaudeville shows and motion pictures. The theater changed names and acts many times before hitting hard times in the 70's, stumbling into the 80’s for a brief period of discount movies before closing completely in 1984.
Brave New Workshop operated a small dinner theater in the pub area of the theater for a short while, but other than that it has sat with doors closed to the public for years. 2,300 seats. What a shame.
I’d love to see the Palace Theatre return to its former glory. 7th Place Mall is already an important cultural corridor in Saint Paul and the Palace Theatre would fit right in with the Park Square and nearby Ordway and Fitzgerald as another option for an evening show. Comedy, drama, musical, rock and roll, movies, whatever.
It certainly wouldn't hurt for Downtown to add another nightlife destination.