Office of Historic Preservation
Phone: (210) 215-9274
The St. Paul Square Historic District, on the eastside of downtown, is bounded by Center Street, Montana, the railroad tracks, and IH-37. The name is derived from the Old St. Paul Methodist Episcopal Church, which was constructed between 1870 and 1880 in the Gothic Revival style. Sparsely developed in the early 19th century, the area grew significantly with the arrival of the railroad in 1877 and the "Cemetery Line" of the street car system during the 1890s down East Commerce Street, the commercial corridor’s main artery. In 1902, the Mission Revival style Southern Pacific Passenger Depot was constructed, which greatly increased the amount of commercial activity and development. Most of the existing commercial buildings were constructed during this period and included a variety of businesses largely focused around trade and transportation. Although racially mixed from its earliest days, the area had developed into a flourishing African American community by the early to mid 20th century. St. Paul Square reached its peak during World War II and the Korean War, despite segregation. However, the rise in automobile traffic and the construction of IH-37 brought about a decline in the 1960s and '70s. Today, the area has experienced a rebirth as an entertainment district with the restoration of many of the historic buildings and the bustling dining and entertainment venues of Sunset Station.