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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.
In memory of John C. Alexander, board chairman and co-founder of Cold Spring Granite Company. He served on the Governor's committee which 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, now CenturyLink formerly known as Qwest.
In honor of N.P. Clarke. Clarke walked to St. Cloud in 1856 from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin because he could not wait for a passenger boat. He entered the transportation business, carrying supplies to government posts. He entered the banking business and lumbering business and became the largest lumber firm in Minnesota Agriculture Society, where he is credited with obtaining land for state fairgrounds.
In memory of Duke Coborn, founder of Coborn's Supermarket in Sauk Rapids in 1921, and proprietor for nearly four decades. he was an active member of the community. Little Duke's convenience stores were named after him. The Coborn's business and family remain prominent in the community.
In honor of Joseph Edelbrock, an early settler and dry goods merchant. He was a former Mayor, alderman postmaster, and school board member. Mr. Edelbrock built the first house upon and originally owned the land where the Convention Center is built.
In honor of Sylvester Fandel, son of the founder of Fandel's Department Store, and lifetime resident of St. Cloud. He was a man who made customer service his trademark during more than half a century with the company. The Fandel store was a downtown landmark until its demolition in the 1980s.
First American Room
Sponsored by First American National Bank, now Bremer Bank.
Glenn Carlson Room
In honor of Glenn Carlson, 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 very active in many civic and charitable organizations.
In memory of E.M. Helgeson. He was a resident of St. Cloud for 53 years and founded the Jack Frost Hatchery in 1926 and Liberty Loan and Thrift Company in 1936. He was also an active member of the community. The GNP Company and Liberty Bank continue as active members of the community.
In honor of G. Robert Herberger, founder of Herberger's department stores of the Upper Midwest. He was also the co-founder of the Junior Association of Commerce. Herberger was an active leader, and member of many civic, charitable, and religious organizations.
In honor of Dan Marsh, founder of Dan Marsh Drugstore in St. Cloud. He was a prominent local business leader and active community member for many years. The drug store was a downtown fixture until the 1990s.
In honor of the Metzroth family, early pioneer clothiers in downtown St. Cloud. Metzroth's was the first tailor and clothier in St. Cloud, and was the longest running business in St. Cloud (1957 to 1986).
In honor of W.B. Mitchell, early newspaperman in St. Cloud (and nephew of Jane Gray Swisshelm). He was a member of State Normal School Board (now St. Cloud State University), and director of 1915 History of Stearns County, a significant collection of county and city history.
Sponsored by St. Cloud Opportunities, Inc., a nonprofit developer of industrial and business parks.
In honor of Fred Schilplin, a former editor and publisher of the St. Cloud Times. He started KFAM (KCLD) radio station. He was also one of the founders of the St. Cloud Chamber of Commerce and an active member for many civic organizations.
In memory of Ed Stockinger, former owner of the Stockinger Company. He helped organize St. Cloud Opportunities. He was an active member and leader of many religious, civic, and charitable organizations. He was a recipient of the governor's award for Outstanding Minnesota Citizen (1975).
In honor of Jane Gray Swisshelm, St. Cloud's first woman's rights advocate and anti-slavery crusader. She became editor and publisher of the St. Cloud Visitor.
Terry Haws Center A / B / C
In memory of Terry Haws, wrestling coach at St. John's University. He began at St. James, which is now a state mat power, and he then came to Cathedral High School (CHS) in St. Cloud. Over a 10-year span at CHS, he collected seven State Catholic Mat Championships. Haws journeyed to St. John's University (SJU) to take control of the wrestling program, and he uplifted the mat program at SJU and captured the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) Crown after only two seasons. Haws had been honored as the National Catholic Coach of the Year.
In memory of Leonard Thielman, pioneer and downtown retailer. He began Thielman Hardware in 1881. He was also a charter member of the Little Giant Hose Company (St. Cloud's pioneer volunteer fire department).
In memory of Walter J. Weidner, founder of the Weidner Plumbing and Heating business, and a John Deere farm implement dealer in St. Cloud and Regal.
In memory of A.G. Whitney, foremost business man of St. Cloud. He was the founder of the St. Cloud Public Service Company, now known as Xcel Energy.
In honor of John L. Wilson, founder of St. Cloud. He is commonly referred to as the father of St. Cloud. Wilson was a member of the first Board of County Commissioners for Stearns County.