Part 1: Degree of Honor Protective Association Building

The Degree of Honor Protective Association Building, located at 325 Cedar Street in Saint Paul, Minnesota, is historically significant under National Register of Historic Places Criterion A as the national headquarters of the Degree of Honor Protective Association, a women’s fraternal benefit society with member lodges throughout the country.[1] As part of this project PVN determined that the property is significant statewide, and its area of significance is Social History. The Degree of Honor Protective Association Building’s period of significance is 1961-1966, reflecting the height of the Degree of Honor Protective Association’s influence in the insurance market and acknowledging the organization’s continued growth through the present day. 

During the month of October, we will be featuring a series of in-depth blog posts about the Degree of Honor Building and the organization that commissioned it:

The Degree of Honor Protective Association Building

Prior to construction of the new building at 325 Cedar, The Degree of Honor Protective Association (DOHPA or “the Association”) offices were located at 389 Saint Peter Street (demolished). In 1953, the Association changed leadership for the first time in forty years, with Edna Dugan replacing Frances Buell Olson as the Association’s National President. Edna Dugan brought with her a desire to modernize, expand, and rebrand the DOHPA, a goal which was fully realized in 1961 with the completion of the new Degree of Honor Protective Association Building at 325 Cedar Street. As the national headquarters of the Degree of Honor Protective Association, the Degree of Honor Protective Association Building is representative of the organization’s understanding of itself as a modern benefit association for modern women. The design and construction of the new building at 325 Cedar were seen as the culmination of Dugan’s efforts to expand both the social and financial health of the Association as well as a physical and monetary embodiment of the Association’s investment in the City of Saint Paul. Following the construction of the new building, the DOHPA enjoyed its most influential decade – the media attention garnered by the new building catapulted the organization to new highs in both organizational membership and insurance in force. The DOHPA continues to grow and s a successful and profitable insurance company through the present day.

The building itself is a ten-story Modern style office tower, designed by local architecture firm Bergstedt, Hirsch, Wahlberg, and Wold Architects (a forerunner of present-day BWBR Architects). The building is clad in black and white granite, with ribbon windows marking each story of the building. At the interior, the building features a grand lobby at the ground level, a central circulation corridor, and office space at the upper levels. A two story wing extends to the north of the main tower, and originally housed the Degree of Honor’s ritual room, where meetings of the fraternal organization were held.

[1] The Degree of Honor Protective Association is still active today. As of 2015, the DOHPA had 43,000 members and retains offices for its national headquarters in Saint Paul.