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About River's Edge
Convention Center History
St. Cloud began as three separate settlements on the Mississippi. One of the town sites was begun by a former slave owner involved in the fur trade, bringing slave-owning Southerners to the area. A second settlement was begun by a professional town-entrepreneur who attracted Protestants opposed to slavery. The third site was intended for a sawmill which drew Catholics from Germany. In spite of the differences, the three settlements eventually merged into one city in 1856. The name "St. Cloud" was chosen to reflect the area’s long-ago French heritage, being named after a suburb of Paris, France.
The City’s scenic and energetic downtown formed on the river’s edge. More than a century later, the City conceived and built the St. Cloud Civic Center at a cost of $10.9 million in 1989. It was natural to build the center along the banks of the Mississippi with the river as its principal focus. Meeting rooms were located facing the river, and the common space was designed to facilitate access from the street to the panoramic views of the river. The new Civic Center became a hub of activity in St. Cloud, the scene of thousands of:
- Consumer events
- Regional events
- Sports events
- Trade shows
By the early 2000s, it was clear that size limitations kept the Civic Center from realizing its full potential. After a decade of planning, negotiations and acquisitions, St. Cloud embarked on a $22 million expansion funded by the local food and beverage tax. Completed in January 2012, the project nearly doubled the size of the center, while enhancing all spaces and improving parking options. As a fitting touch, the center was renamed the River’s Edge Convention Center to keep the spotlight on the waterway that runs beside it. The growth in events and patronage made possible by the 2012 expansion strained the on-site parking capacity of the Convention Center. In December 2016 the 372-stall River’s Edge West Parking Ramp opened.
Convention Center Today
Today the River’s Edge Convention Center includes 150,000 square feet of space, 19 meeting rooms, 60,000 square feet of continuous exhibit space, and a 16,000 square foot ballroom. Three public parking ramps comprising more than 1,200 stalls are within a block of the facility. The Convention Center is owned and operated by the City of St. Cloud. Visit the City of St. Cloud website.
Timeline of Significant Events in the History of the Convention Center
The old City Hall/Post Office is demolished to make room for the St. Cloud Civic Center. Built in 1902, it originally held the St. Cloud Post Office and the United States Land office. In 1937 it was moved four blocks east to become the City Hall offices.
The St. Cloud City Council approves site plans and a $9.4 million budget for the Civic Center as a combination community center and convention center. Budget changes several times over the following months.
The St. Cloud Civic Center opens its doors to the public during a dedication ceremony. The first event, a bridal show, is held January 15, 1989.
The Terry Haws community space is renovated into trade show and convention space.
$1.5 million interior renovation is completed that included finish upgrades and a general facelift.
The City opens the new library facility, eight blocks west of the existing site.
The former St. Cloud Public Library building is demolished to make way for the St. Cloud Civic Center expansion project.
Groundbreaking takes place for Phase I of the St. Cloud Civic Center Expansion.
Completion dates of the Phase I Expansion, bringing the facility to 180,000 square feet.
Ceremonial groundbreaking for new parking ramp located at 5th Avenue and 1st Street immediately west of the Convention Center.
Beaver Island Trail along the river adjacent to the Convention Center is extended to the north, incorporating a spectacular bridge and riverfront walkway.
Grand opening of the 372-stall River’s Edge West Parking Ramp.
Addition of new glass-wall passenger elevator serving the River’s Edge East Parking Ramp and both levels of the River’s Edge.
River’s Edge celebrates 30 years of business in Downtown St. Cloud.
"Minnesota Home Grown" Room Names
The Stearns County Historical Society was asked to submit a list of prominent citizens from St. Cloud’s past to be used in naming the individual meeting rooms and large exhibit halls within the Convention Center. The following list details those citizens who were ultimately picked for this honor.
John C. Alexander (1898 – 1976) was board chairman and co-founder of Cold Spring Granite Co., now called Coldspring USA. He served on the Governor’s select committee that studied state aid to private schools and was awarded a Papal Knighthood and the Order of St. Gregory for his service on the St. John’s University Board of Trustees.
Sponsored by Northwestern Bell, one of the original telephone companies of the Bell system, and now called CenturyLink. The company is the primary provider of wired telephone service in central Minnesota and operates a major switching facility in downtown St. Cloud.
Nehemiah P. Clarke (1836 - 1912) arrived in St. Cloud in 1856. He made his fortune in retail, lumbering, and other business ventures. Clarke was awarded a government grant to develop a state route from St. Cloud to the Black Hills in which mules and oxen carried goods to government posts throughout the Dakota territory. He was a farmer, a banker, an animal stock breeder, a lumberman and a corporate director for several Red River railroads. He was nationally known as a breeder of Clydesdale and Hambletonian horses, shorthorn and Galloway cattle, Berkshire hogs and Cotswold sheep. Clarke and his partner, T. C. McClure, owned lumber mills in St. Cloud, Minneapolis, Perham and Canada. He built one of St. Cloud’s finest Victorian-styles mansions which still stands at 356 3rd Avenue South, St. Cloud.
Duke John Coborn (1903 – 1960) was the son of the founder of Coborn’s Supermarket in Sauk Rapids in 1921 and proprietor for nearly four decades. He was an active member of the community. Coborn’s, Inc. continues to be prominent in St. Cloud area business and civic affairs, operating two regional grocery chains and the Little Duke’s convenience stores, which are named after Duke. The fourth and fifth generations of the Coborn family are active in the management of the business today.
Joseph Edelbrock (1826– 1907) was one of the founders of St. Cloud and a dry goods merchant. He served as Mayor, alderman, postmaster, and school board member. He owned and resided on the land that is now occupied by the River’s Edge Convention Center.
Sylvester W. Fandel (1893 – 1981) was the son of the founder of Fandel’s Department Store and a man who made customer service his trademark during more than a half century with the company. The Fandel store was a downtown landmark until its demolition in the 1980s.
First American Room
Sponsored by the First American National Bank, now called Bremer Bank, which maintains a major banking and community presence in St. Cloud and the region.
Glenn Carlson Room
Glenn Carlson (1920 –1999) was President of the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce from 1953-1986. He founded the Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame, Princess Kay of the Milky Way contest, and the Central Minnesota Dairy Days. He was a moving force in many civic and charitable organizations.
Elmer M. “Mike” Helgeson (1899-1978) founded the Jack Frost Hatchery in 1926 and the Liberty Loan and Thrift Company in 1936. He was also an active member of the community. The Gold’n Plump company is now called Pilgrim’s Pride and continues as a major poultry processor in Minnesota and the nation. Liberty Bank Minnesota continues as a major financial services business in St. Cloud.
George Robert “Bob” Herberger (1904 – 1999) founder of G.R. Herberger Department Stores with 40 stores in ten states. He was co-founder of the Junior Association of Commerce. Herberger was an active leader, and member of many civic, charitable, and religious organizations.
Daniel A. Marsh (1898– 1976) founded the Dan Marsh drugstore in St. Cloud and eventually had three drugstores in the area. He was a prominent local business leader and active community member for many years. The drug store was a downtown fixture until the 1990s.
The Metzroth family were the first tailors and clothiers in downtown St. Cloud, and Metzroth’s was the longest running business (1857-1986). John W. Metzroth (1824 – 1897) engaged at his trade as a tailor in his shop located on 5th Avenue. In 1860 he added ready-made clothing to his growing business. In 1865 he built a new shop on the same avenue near St. Germain Street. The business grew so rapidly that in 1876 he moved his business to a large building he built located at 623 St. Germain Street. In 1888 he sold his business to his sons, Charles J. Metzroth (1959 – 1935) and Otto F. Metzroth (1866 – 1943).Charles and Otto continued in the clothing business until their deaths. John Metzroth brought the first sewing machine to St. Cloud.
William Bell Mitchell (1843 - 1930) was an early St. Cloud newspaperman (and nephew of Jane Grey Swisshelm). He began working in the office of the St. Cloud Visitor and later purchased it. He renamed the paper the Journal. Later he purchased another paper and consolidated the two papers under the name of the Journal-Press which he later sold. He also engaged in real estate and the loan business. He was a member of the board of what is now St. Cloud State University.
St. Cloud Opportunities, Inc. is a nonprofit corporation incorporated in 1955. It exists to “create, enhance, extend and increase opportunities for employment in the St. Cloud area,” achieved through the development of industrial and business parks – five to date.
Frederick C.Schilplin (1868-1949) was the long-time owner and publisher of The Daily Times, St. Cloud’s first daily newspaper, now called the St. Cloud Times. He started WFAM (KCLD) radio station. He served as the County Sheriff for four years as well as St. Cloud’s Postmaster for two years. He was one of the founders of the St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce and an active member of many civic organizations.
Ed Stockinger (1910 –1979) was founder and owner of The Stockinger Company as well as the founder of the original St. Cloud Opportunities. He was an active member and leader of many religious, civic, and charitable organizations. He was the recipient of the Governor’s Award for Outstanding Minnesota Citizen in 1975.
Jane Grey Cannon Swisshelm (1815-1884) was a pioneer journalist, publisher, abolitionist and women’s rights advocate. She was the editor and publisher of The St. Cloud Visitor and also controlled a string of newspapers in the area.
Terry Haws Center A / B / C
Terrence L. Haws (1923 - 1973) was the long-time wrestling coach at St. John’s University. He coached in Minnesota for 26 years; at St. James from 1943-1948; at St. Cloud Cathedral High School, 1958-1967 and St. John’s University 1967-1973. His accomplishments include 13 conference championships, seven state championships, and two national championships. At the time of his death Haws was the winningest wrestling coach in Minnesota with a combined high school and college record of 249 wins, 56 losses and three ties. Haws was selected as the National Catholic Coach of the Year in 1972.
Leonard Thielman (1844-1928) was a pioneer St. Cloud retailer. He established Thielman Hardware in 1881, and was a charter member of St. Cloud’s pioneer volunteer fire department. He was also a charter member of the Minnesota Retail Dealers Association.
Walter J. Weidner (1898 – 1993) founded Weidner Plumbing and Heating in 1953 in St. Cloud, and was a John Deere farm implement dealer in St. Cloud and Regal. The company is still active in St. Cloud and is instrumental in maintaining the Convention Center’s mechanical systems.
Albert Gideon Whitney (1860 - 1922) was a legendary business man of St. Cloud, founding the St. Cloud Public Service Company, now Xcel Energy. He and his brother-in-law owned the firm of Whitney & Wheelock from which all land business was conducted. It is said that no man ever handled as much land in northern Minnesota and North Dakota as did Whitney.
John L. Wilson (1820 - 1910) is known as the “Father of St.Cloud”. John platted the original city and built the first frame house. Wilson was a Judge of Probate Court, a member of the territorial legislature, and a member of the Stearns County Board of Commissioners, St. Cloud City Council, and a City Justice.