A Truly Glamorous Gym

Atmosphere and ambiance contribute to enjoyment of a place, as preservationists know, whether that place is a restaurant, a library, a streetscape, a residence, an office, a classroom or even an athletic facility. If a place is pleasant and gives you that happy-to-be-there feeling, then you are likely to return. Sometimes this decision is blatant; other times, it is subconscious.

The St. Paul Athletic Club in St. Paul, MN is one of those breathtaking places that will make you glad to be there, whether it’s for social reasons or health reasons. You have to see it to believe it (see photos below – click for larger images and better clarity).

Opened in 1916 as a social and athletic club, it was recently renovated and reopened in winter 2013 by new owners with a true vision for restoring the function and the glamour of the athletic club. The club is located on 7 stories of the 13-story building. The current owners have brought the building back to life, and are an important link in the chain of downtown St. Paul revitalization and growth. (This Finance & Commerce article gives an overview of the financial side of the reopening.)

How would you like to workout in this room?

How would you like to workout in this room? Chandeliers, lamps, decorative plaster: I could barely believe my eyes.

Details, details.

Details, details.

Multiple floors of beautiful rooms and workout equipment.

Multiple floors of beautiful rooms and workout equipment.

Oddly enough, however, it was entirely empty when I was exploring.

Oddly enough, however, it was entirely empty when I was exploring.

Good views from these windows.

Good views from these windows.

Another running track above the weights.

Another running track above the weights.

A view into the pool.

A view into the pool.

Beautiful mosaic tile floor.

Beautiful mosaic tile floor.

Incredible windows at the pool; wish I had time to swim!

Incredible windows at the pool; wish I had time to swim!

What do you think? Are you as impressed as I am? A historic building rehabilitated , and retaining its function as an important business in downtown and serving the people with a current need – sounds great. Hopefully the membership increases, and the club succeeds. Read about the original grand opening here.

Perhaps more athletic facilities should consider historic buildings – have you seen any? Would you be more likely to join a gym if it looked and functioned like the St. Paul Athletic Club? Would you pay more to support a business that operates with such care in a historic building?

Looking up at the St. Paul Athletic Club.

Looking up at the St. Paul Athletic Club. Spectacular.

(By the way, I am writing about the St. Paul Athletic Club because I am impressed and think it’s a great success story. If you live in St. Paul or nearby, you should join. And I like to show my support for historic buildings. I have not received any compensation for promoting this business.)

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