Archive for the ‘St Paul Historic Homes’ Category

The Emerson Hadley House in Saint Paul

Friday, October 27th, 2017

123 Farrington Street, St. Paul

Renowned architect Cass Gilbert designed this Georgian Revival home in 1895 for Emerson and Mary Hadley, a prominent St. Paul attorney, at a cost of $8000. Originally (as shown in the photo below) the front entry had steps directly to the sidewalk, a balustrade above the entry, and porches along the entire front façade. The porches and balustrade were removed in the 1930s due to rot, as was a widow’s walk on the roof. The current carriage house and stone wall surrounding the property were constructed in the 1930s from stone salvaged from the Saint Paul City Hall building, demolished in 1932.

Photo of Home Circa 1897

Emerson was born in Marion, Massachusetts on December 27, 1857. He graduated from Harvard College in 1881 and then studied law at Columbia the following years before moving to Saint Paul in 1884 to set up his law practice. Three years later, he married Mary M. Luce, and had one child, Louise in 1892. Upon Emerson’s death in 1916, the house was inherited by his daughter and her husband, Dr. Carl Bigelow Drake.

According to Louise’s son, Harry Drake, Louise thought the living room too small for proper entertaining, so in 1917,the home was sold to Perry Dean and Mary Gribben. Mary was the daughter of Edward Saunders, president of the Northwestern Fuel Company who lived down the street at 323 Summit Avenue. Perry Dean was a 1903 graduate of Yale University and enlisted in the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps Reserve in 1917. On February 20, 1918, his automobile was hit by a trolley car when his chauffeur was unable to negotiate snow-covered street car tracks on Selby Avenue. He was thrown from the car resulting in a fractured skull and died in the hospital the following day.

Unique features of the home include a music room designed by Cass Gilbert with curved walls to deliver better acoustic sound, as well as original glass folding doors instead of pocket doors.

 

The Judson Bishop House in St. Paul

Saturday, August 19th, 2017
193 Mackubin Street, St. Paul, MN

193 Mackubin Street, St. Paul

Judson Bishop

Judson Bishop

Built in 1882, this grand home was commissioned by Judson Wade Bishop of the Second Minnesota Regiment and designed by architect Abraham M. Radcliffe. Featuring a limestone and Kasota stone foundation, the French Second Empire styled home is easily recognized by its mansard roof and sits on close to a half-acre of land.

Born in Evansville, New York in 1831, Bishop was the son and grandson of Baptist ministers. He studied civil engineering and worked as a draftsman in Ontario before moving to Chatfield, Minnesota in 1857.  While residing in Chatfield, he worked as a railroad surveyor and served as the principal and teacher of Chatfield Academy. He helped form the 2nd Minnesota Regiment during the Civil War, being the first man to muster in and the last man to muster out. He is remembered for his courageous military actions during the war and in particular for leading his troops into battle up Missionary Ridge at Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1863. A painting depicting this famous historic scene hangs in the Governor’s Reception room at the state capital (Bishop is depicted as the soldier waving his hat). He was promoted rapidly during the war, and received a brevet promotion to brigadier general in March 1865.

The Second Minnesota at Missionary Ridge, 1906

Bishop returned to his job after the war moving from Chatfield to Le Sueur, to Mankato, and then finally to St. Paul when he was promoted to U.S. Deputy Surveyor in 1866. He also served as the general manager for the St. Paul and Sioux City Railroad from 1871-1883. Bishop is well known in Minnesota history, especially for his published works about the Civil War (The Story of a Regiment, 1890and his time with the railroad in Minnesota (History of the St. Paul and Sioux City Railroad, 1905).

Bishop married his first wife Ellen Husted in 1866, having four sons together before her death in 1878. A few years later he purchased land west of the Cathedral and built this beautiful home. His next wife Mary Axtell,whom he married in 1884, bore him five more daughters. The house served as the Bishop family residence until his death in 1917.

Detail in a Fireplace

Over the next 65 years, the home passed through a succession of owners, being broken up into no less than 18 sleeping rooms. When the present owners purchased the home in 1982, it was in terrible disrepair. The front porch had been removed, the roof leaked, the siding was rotting, and it had suffered from vandalism and attempted theft of the interior woodwork. It took the owners over 5 years to restore the home back to its original grandeur.

Interestingly, Bishop’s youngest daughter, Middy, visited the home and current owners before her death (1992 at 90 years old). She told them wonderful stories about the home, including how her father was always worried the Christmas tree candles would start a fire, and that F. Scott Fitzgerald came to her birthday party once and was quite rude.

 

Ramsey Hill Folk Victorian – 537 Holly Avenue

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015
537 Holly Avenue, Saint Paul, MN

537 Holly Avenue

Charles L. Johnston House

When Charles L. Johnston, Vice President of the D.S.B Johnston Land Company, was married in the fall of 1882, it is easy to imagine that this Folk Victorian home was a wedding gift to his new bride, Jennie. The house was completed less than a year later in 1883. The Johnston family remained in the home until 1896 when it was sold to Dr. George E. Routh, a local physician and surgeon.

The original transom windows are still present, as is a lovely tiled fireplace surround in the upstairs bedroom. Hidden behind the hallway closets is the original second staircase, no longer used, which descends to the kitchen. The original sleeping porch has been restored too!

WCCO coverage of the Ramsey Hill House Tour

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

Check out this mornings LIVE WCCO interview for the Ramsey Hill House Tour. I was up at 4 am to get to the shoot and it was really fun! Writing for the last three tours has been educational and every one has been different. Though each is a lot of work, I look forward to the next tour in 2015!

Make sure to come out tonight! The tour runs from 4-9pm and tickets can be bought at 301 Summit Avenue in St. Paul (the Germanic American Institute). Hope to see you there! You can also visit www.RamseyHill.org for more information.

Ramsey Hill House Tour video of the Louis Hill Mansion on Summit Avenue

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

Best Home of the Summit Hill House Tour

Sunday, September 9th, 2012

By far the best home on the 2012 Summit Hill House Tour in St. Paul was 7 Heather  Place. Of course, I will throw in 5 Heather Place too, as they both are attached. These two homes are amazing, not only for their unique exterior facade, but also for their beautifully decorated interiors.

Built by two Jewish brothers in 1905-1906, Benjamin and William Goodkind were the president and secretary treasurer of St. Paul’s Mannheimer Brothers Department Store. The architectural firm of Reed and Stem, who are well known for the St. Paul Hotel, Grand Central Terminal in New York, and several homes in St. Paul, were commissioned to design the Tudor Revival homes, connecting them via the “Passover” seen below.

While the two homes have been “separated” by building bedrooms in the once long hall, they still appear as one to the casual observer. The original stone staircase stretching down to Grand Avenue from this central area is still present and the grounds are beautifully landscaped. 

It is hard to pick a favorite room in 7 Heather Place. I loved the kitchen with its original icebox and old world feel. The home has extensive woodwork and wood paneling throughout, and has the best little spiral staircase to the lower level that I have seen.  While the home is stretched long to fit the space, it is perfectly situated on one of the most amazing bluff sites in St. Paul.

Photo of the twin homes under construction in 1906 and another in 1915.

Other homes designed by Reed and Stem are 489 Grand Hill, 530 Grand Hill, 340 Summit Avenue.

Burbank-Livingston-Griggs House on Summit

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

432 Summit Avenue, St. Paul
The Burbank-Livingston-Griggs is the second oldest home still standing on the avenue and was built by James Burbank in 1862. It is constructed of Mendota Limestone and was designed by Otis E. Wheelock of Chicago. Over the years the home has been touched by some of the most famous architects in Minnesota, including Clarence Johnston (1884), Allen Stem (1925), and Edwin Lundie.

The home is a fantastic representation of the Italianate style that was very popular from 1840-1880. Of the five Italian style villas built on the bluff, only two remain. Key exterior features of the home are the cupola that sits on top of the roof, the low pitched roof, tall narrow windows with arches, and large decorative brackets at the eaves. The home is situated on an acre of land and boasts a little over 10,000 square feet. With 7 bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms, the home is larger than it seems from the outside. Those lucky enough to see the inside would be astounded by the beauty. Mrs Theodore Griggs had many rooms imported after 1900 including a French drawing room, an Elizabethan study, and Italian paneled dining room, and a marble corridor to the mirrored ballroom. The last recorded sale of the home was in 1996 and is believed to be the only sale of the home in the last century.

The Weyerhaeuser Mansion in St. Paul

Monday, June 20th, 2011
480 Grand Hill, St. Paul, Minnesota

Designed by William Channing Whitney and built in 1908, this grand Tudor Revival historic home was fashioned for Frederick Weyerhaeuser towards the end of his life (1834-1912). He was a German immigrant from Niedersaulheim, Rhein-Hesse who began his lumber career in Illinois around 1858.

When he first arrived to the States in 1852, he was penniless. He worked as a day laborer in Pennsylvania, married, and a few years later moved to Illinois. There he worked on a railroad as a carter, then at a sawmill and a timber mill. Soon thereafter he acquired both businesses and furthered his holdings, buying up large tracts of land filled with quality timber. He became know in the world as the “Timber King”. Later, he moved his headquarters to St. Paul, MN in 1891 where he quickly became friends with James J. Hill. His accumulation of wealth through hard work is just another example of the great opportunities available in the States, and the dream that is America.

The house sits on a lovely bluff site overlooking St. Paul and has around 11,000 square feet. The woodwork decorating the home is quite beautiful, especially in the large foyer. Probably my favorite feature is the inset fireplace, big enough to fit a few chairs inside to enjoy the warmth of the fire on our cold Minnesota winter nights.

Short Biography

Brick Tudor Revival Home on Portland

Monday, February 28th, 2011

487 Portland Avenue, Saint Paul

This stately Tudor Revival home is just over 100 years old having been designed by Thomas Holyoke in 1909. Built for Charles Bigelow III, president of Saint Paul Fire and Marine Insurance from 1876-1911, the home has a sister house right next door at 495 Portland, which was built the same year and by the same architect for Fred Bigelow, his son.

While originally built as a single family home, it is currently two condo units, with the initial divide happening in 1951. The grand staircase was removed at this time, but many original features remain, including the numerous leaded glass windows. In the 1990’s, the current owners renovated the large main floor living room which still retains the original wainscoting. Under decades of paint they uncovered beautiful Honduran Mahogany wood.

View a photo of the two Bigelow homes from 1972.

Germanic Cultural House on Summit Avenue

Monday, January 31st, 2011

301 Summit Avenue, St. Paul
Built in 1905 by George Gardner at a price of $28,000 this Georgian Revival home was designed by Thomas Holyoke. Holyoke was the chief draftsman for the famous architect Cass Gilbert on the state capital building and also built five homes on Summit Avenue. Another home was originally built on this site in 1882 in the Queen Anne style, but it was moved around the corner to 107 Farrington in 1903.

The home has changed very little since construction. I was able to find a photo of the home as it appeared in 1948, before it became a German cultural center. The original owner, Mr. Gardner, lived in the house up until 1946 when the St. Paul Priory took possession. It wasn’t until 1966 when the current owners bought the home for $60,000 by selling bonds, and it became the Volksfest Kultur Haus. In 1990, the organization changed its name to the Germanic American Institute.

I have had the privilege of viewing the home during a past Historic House Tour and the home is amazing. There are two grand parlors on the main floor, each flanking a central staircase. The basement is fully utilized and a good place to socialize. German quotes and sayings abound throughout the house. Even though it is no longer used residentially, the Institute fits in nicely on Summit Avenue. There is even a carriage house in the back that looks like a small home, but has around 2000 square feet. If the property were to come up for sale, it would most likely fetch well over $1 Million.