Savor Black Minnesota history: 12 notable landmarks

Wikipedia The Highland Park Water Tower designed by Clarence W. Wigington is open to visitors each summer and fall. The tower is located at 782 Snelling Avenue South in St. Paul

Remembering a towering talent

Clarence W. Wigington was an architect who was born in Lawrence, KS, moving to St. Paul in 1914. While in St. Paul, he designed most of the public schools, firehouses and more. His most well-known structure is the Highland Park Tower, listed in the National Registry of Historic Places. The tower is usually open to visitors each summer and fall. However, it is currently closed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the time of his prominence, there were only a handful of Black architects, artists and draftsmen in the country, according to Census data. 

In 2019, Wigington’s work was highlighted in the Mill City Museum exhibit titled “The Builders: Shaping Minnesota’s Architectural Landscape on the Color Line.” It provided a focused view of the contributions of Black Minnesotan architects and builders in a time when aspiring for professional success as a Black person was seen as an act of social disobedience. 

Wigington’s perseverance resulted in an enduring legacy that moved the proverbial ball forward for future generations.

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