Boys Totem Town Preservation Vision & Planning

St. Paul, MN
Lower Phalen Creek Project, in coordination with Boys Totem Town Land Preservation Group, received a Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Grant to create a Foundations and Vision Plan for the former Boys Totem Town Juvenile Detention Center site. Boys Totem Town was originally the Ramsey County Home School for Boys, which opened in 1916.
106 Group analyzed the site’s cultural history in order to understand the property’s importance as a site of significance to American Indian Tribes, a working farm, and a juvenile detention center. The site also carries meaning for its surrounding neighborhood and the communities from which the employees and residents came.

Historic images courtesy of Minnesota Historical Society

This report is a foundational planning tool to inform potential preservation needs and appropriate redevelopment of the property. Our work will be used to engage with potential partners and stakeholders and imagine the future of the site. More than half of the 72 acres is undeveloped, with nature trails throughout, and many old growth oaks. The complex history of this site, including its long history of use as a juvenile detention center that disproportionately impacted Black and Brown boys, provides opportunities for future uses to directly address issues of inequality and social and environmental justice in our public lands and policies.
“We want to give a special shout out (for) the stellar work conducted by the cultural resource professionals at 106 Group!”
- From the Lower Phalen Creek Project newsletter