Landmark Center

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A wanna-be outlaw crossed the line
into real trouble after joining a violent 1930s gang.

This spirit is described as being a bit of a rascal, and a little menacing.



The Landmark Center has been called, “Saint Paul’s very own fairly tale castle”, the masterpiece of local architects, including James Knox Taylor and Edward P. Bassford at various stages, with Cass Gilbert who supervised part of the construction. Built around the turn-of-the-century at the cost of $2.5 million, This “work of art in architecture” opened in 1902 to house the post office, the custom house and the Federal Courts for the county. Eventually, all of the Federal offices in the upper mid-west moved into this roomy, classic building.

In 1967, the federal offices moved into a new federal building. By this time, The Landmark Center building was a real fixer upper opportunity, in need of a lot of repair with a huge price tag associated with it. So this building in 1970 was given a date with the wrecking ball.

Luckily for us all, the community banded together, determined to raise funds to repair and restore this glorious building inside and out. Their goal was met J.I.T., just one week before the building was scheduled to be torn down. The award-winning restoration which was the result, made the interior of the building shine with its original flooring and architectural designs, minus the green paint, false ceiling and other remodeling additions done during the time it was used as the Federal office building and post office.

Now, The Landmark Center is under the watchful eye of Minnesota Landmarks, a nonprofit organization which makes sure Landmark Center is managed and maintained as a cultural arts center.

From the outside, The Landmark Center reminds the visitor very much of a European castle; an impressive building, complete with clock and bell towers, steep roofs, classy decor etc., which takes up the whole block between 5th and 6th Street. It is truly a glorious 4 story building, both outside and inside, made with the finest materials.

Entering 6th street entrance, one enters the Hamm Foyer, which has lovely marble tile.

After entering the building on the first floor, one goes into the Cortile, which is an internal courtyard inspired by the Italian concept popular in the Renaissance period. From this tiled courtyard, which runs the entire length of the building, one can see the other 3 stories & their hallways all held up by ornate Roman columns, which go all around the courtyard. Rooms on each floor are found off their prospective hallways. Looking straight up, one sees a lovely, open skylight. The Cortile has marble wainscotting, ornate columns and even some potted trees. The Cortile area is used for large events, such as festivals, large social events and dances.

The 4 storied, beautiful Landmark Center is described as being a downtown St. Paul cultural center. From the basement to the top floor, one finds many of St. Paul’s arts and cultural non-profit agencies, responsible for a diverse program of performing and visual arts and civic activities.

Second Floor 226

American Association of Woodturners Gallery – Exhibits of wood sculpture.

North First Floor

Ramsey County Historical Society Gallery – Historical Exhibitions

Basement Level & second Floor 201

The Schubert Club Musical Instrument Museum & The Gilman Ordway Collection of Musical Manuscripts.

Basement Level

Landmark Center Archive Gallery

Contains artifacts and news articles about the Landmark Center’s history and renovation.

The Frederick King Weyerhaeuser Auditorium

The old Federal court rooms were located on the third and fourth floors. They have been preserved as history, and are on scheduled tours of the building, as a tribute to American justice. Murderers and robbers didn’t get away with their crimes, thanks to the courage and perseverance of law enforcement.

The Ramsey County Courtroom: #317

Largest courtroom with a balcony. Used for the high profile trials of many notorious 1930s gangsters, such as Babyface Nelson, Machine Gun Kelly, Ma Barker’s son, “Doc,” Alvin “Creepy” Karpis, Jack Peifer, and John Dillinger’s main gal, Evelyn Freschette, with armed FBI G men, carrying serious cannons; (Thompson sub-machine guns), stationed in the balcony, to discourage any rescue attempts.

The Detention Room was just down the hall, room 324, which is now an office, held such unsavory characters which had a date to meet justice in The Ramsey County Courtroom.

The Butler Room: Courtroom #326

Features foliate molded crossbeams and a Tudor fireplace, which cleverly disguises the steam heating system.

The Sanborn Room: Courtroom #408

Court of Appeals room which features a stained glass skylight and a white marble window wall. Two generations of Sanborn judges held court in this room.


Jack Peifer was formerly a carnival worker and a bellhop before he started working for gangsters, which he saw as a way of getting ahead. At one point, he ran a St. Paul speak-easy on Mississippi River Boulevard, during prohibition, probably set up in business by his unsavory friends. He landed a plush job of laundering money as a banker for the underworld.

He crossed the line into real trouble when he joined the violent Barker/Karpis gang, and wound up being a lead figure in two kidnappings: William Hamm (of Hamm’s Beer) in June 1933, and Edward Bremer, a banker, in January 1934. The gang raked in a total of 300,000 clams! However, a high priority was placed in capturing them, because Edward Bremer Sr. was a friend of President Roosevelt. Jack Peifer tried to talk “Doc” out of this later caper, but he didn’t win that argument. He was caught along with “Doc,” and Alvin “Creepy” Karpis, and was convicted in room #317 of his involvement. After Charles Lindbergh’s son’s kidnapping and death in 1932, tough new penalties were created for this type of crime. Jack was facing stiff new penalties for his involvement, with plenty of hard time ahead of him: 30 years in Leavenworth Prison. Jack Peifer couldn’t face it and killed himself in his jail cell, by swallowing potassium cyanide.


The entity of Jack Peifer is described as being a little bit of a rascal, and a little menacing; A character who enjoys “girls, gin, parties and the third floor.”

Spirit of Male Bellhop

Entity is haunting the third floor.

Elevator doors on the third floor sometimes open and close without pressing the button, thanks to the entity, doing the only honest job he held in his life. Sometimes they open and close when they don’t need to.

Tour guide, Woodrow Keljik, wrote in a Landmark Newsletter, about two visitors to Landmark Center standing on the third floor landing who saw through the glass top of the handicapped elevator a transparent man wearing a bellhop uniform riding up the elevator to the third floor. By the time the elevator reached the third floor, the apparition had disappeared.

Women have felt his strong presence, and have been touched by this entity.

Spirit of Jack Peifer

The entity of Jack Peifer is thought to haunt the bathrooms all over the building.

In the women’s bathrooms, the stall doors of the toilets open and shut by themselves.

A woman was washing up in a bathroom alone when she heard a disembodied man’s laughter, from a cheeky entity, located somewhere behind her.

Another woman was shaken up when she saw a man with a menacing presence in the second floor rest room, who suddenly disappeared.

Party Time for Spirits

During social events held in the Cortile: Jack and perhaps other Entities like to join in the fun.

Bottles of alcohol tip over by themselves or are found to be missing, without benefit from human hands. Perhaps an entity is helping himself to a shot of liquid refreshment.

Shot glasses have been known to shatter for no apparent reason. The entity of Jack is said to get agitated around bars.

Spirits Crashing Weddings

During wedding celebrations:

A photographer took a picture of the wedding party on the grand staircase of Landmark Center. When the photo was developed, the picture of a tall, fuzzy, grayish man was captured standing behind the 5 year old ring bearer.

Full-fleshed apparitions which look like real people are sometimes seen during wedding receptions.


Oh yes indeed! Gangsters convicted of their crimes are not happy souls, alive or dead. Many witnesses have experienced paranormal activities. Perhaps whoever is haunting the building is not ready to leave this life or are afraid to go to the other side.

The entity of Jack Peifer is probably still kicking himself for not bowing out of the last kidnapping caper, letting the arrogance of the others to overpower his better judgment.




75 West Fifth Street
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55102
(651) 292-3230

The impressive looking Landmark Center can be found in downtown Saint Paul, presiding over the north end of the historic Rice Park. The Landmark Center is across the street from the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, the Saint Paul Public Library and the Saint Paul Hotel. Parking can be a little challenging so it is best if you visit





    by Chad Lewis & Terry Fisk
    Unexplained Research Publishing Company, 2005

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