By Pat Kessler

ST. PAUL (WCCO) — There are few other places in the historic Minnesota State Capitol where beer drinking should be more welcome: The basement cafeteria, styled as a German Rathskeller. Now, for the first time in almost 100 years, alcohol may be available on certain occasions.

The walls of the Rathskeller are unexpectedly colorful, featuring forest animals, patriotic symbols and drinking slogans — in original German.

Now, State Rep. Phyllis Kahn is trying to revive another century-old tradition here, alcohol, which may have been commonly sold in the original Capitol.

Kahn is the author of a new law allowing the public to rent the Rathskeller for special events, like weddings, receptions and permit the sale of beer and wine.

“This is a terrific area that ought to be used more than it is,” Kahn said.

The Rathskeller was restored to its original design in 1999: Resurrecting a curious past of political persecution.

It was 1917, during a war-time wave of anti-German hysteria, the Rathskeller was whitewashed literally.

Painted over on the orders of Minnesota’s Commission on Public Safety, which was a state group with sweeping powers to investigate German immigrants and left-leaning union members.

The Capitol rathskeller is not available for rental yet.

A $109 million dollar Capitol renovation is underway that could take several years. When it’s finished, it could be in demand.

The Capitol cafeteria changes are included in the Legacy Bill, which Gov. Mark Dayton is expected to sign by this weekend.


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