Archive for the ‘Second Empire’ Category

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.


The Theodore Sheldon Mansion in Red Wing

Monday, April 18th, 2011

805 W 4th Street, Red Wing

When driving by this grand historic home in Red Wing, MN, it becomes quite apparent that something just doesn’t seem right. You would be correct to notice that the Italianate looking home has a tower that seems to stand out more than usual for a home of this style. The answer to the mystery is that the third floor is missing.

Built in 1876 for Theodore B Sheldon, the home was designed by St. Paul architect A.M. Radclifff in the French Second Empire style. Born in Massachusetts in 1820, Mr. Sheldon was involved with many business ventures which helped his fortune grow including, mercantile, real estate, grain, transportation, and bank President. He died in 1900.

Home as originally built

Over the years, the home has seen many owners, but has remained in fantastic condition for its age. It is also listed on the National Registry for Historic Places. Sometime around 1960, the owner at the time was unable to finance the repair of the Mansard roof (due to water damage) so he removed the entire third level of the home, forever changing the home from Second Empire to Italianate. While it would cost a great deal to reconstruct the third level, it would be nice to see the exterior of the home returned to its full original splendor.

Picture of the home 1960

Picture of home 1974

Beautiful Second Empire Mansion in Hastings

Sunday, September 6th, 2009

612 Vermillion, Hastings

Known as the Van Dyke – Libbey House, the grand Second Empire historic home was built in 1868 at a cost of $25,000 by banker and dry good merchant William J. Van Dyke. The exterior is constructed of Chaska brick. From 1880-1911, the Rowland C. Libbey family resided in the home. Mr. Libbey was Mayor of Hastings twice, and also owned the town lumber mill.

In 1914, the building was leased by the current owner, Mr. Millet, and used as a sanatorium. First listed as the Hope Sanatarium, it was later named St. Raphael’s Hospital. In 1929, the hospital moved and the home was converted to apartments.

Photo, 1960

Saint Paul Historic Home Second Empire Style

Friday, October 31st, 2008

This weeks historic home is located at 235 Summit Avenue, Saint Paul.

Built in 1878 as a duplex, the home was built for Charles P. Noyes, a local wholesale druggist. It is a very simple Victorian, built in the Second Empire style. Little of the exterior has changed over the years. The porch trim is different and there has been a third story window added on the west side of the home. I have always liked this home as it commands its own attention amidst a street full of grand homes.

The home is fairly large, even though it does not look like it from the front, with six bedrooms, seven baths. It is currently zoned as apartments with 4 units: the main house, the third story apartment, and two units in the back. The best part of the home is the view – every minute of the day you can gaze at the St. Paul Cathedral.

Second Empire Historic Home in St Paul

Sunday, November 18th, 2007

This weeks featured Historic Home in St Paul is 649 Summit Ave.

Built in 1874 by A G Manson, the home is a fantastic representation of Second Empire architectural design. Out of the four Second Empire homes built on Summit Avenue between 1867-1883, this is the only one still standing. Major features that distinguish this style are the Mansard roof with many dormers, brackets at the eaves, paired entry doors, and cresting along the roof line.

The home sits on a beautiful third of an acre with a very simple but elegant landscape design. This home was at one time used as a Funeral Home, circa 1920. It was recently sold in late 2004 for $1,125,000. With about 4200 square feet, the home has 6 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms. The previous owners restored the home to much of its original splendor, while making it more functional for modern times, ie. new kitchen, central air etc. The backyard has also been newly landscaped and it the perfect retreat. Definitely a gem on the avenue!

The photo taken in 1919 shows that there was a small second story porch on the East side of the home which has since been removed. The other photo, taken in 1973, shows that both the upper and lower porch were removed. Sometime since then, the owners have brought back the lower porch which is designed similar to the orginal. It is always nice to see the character of a historic home returned!

Historic Architecture – Second Empire

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

For those of you who follow my historic home series, you should know by now that I have a passion for old homes and their history. Each week I post a photo of a home on Summit Avenue in St Paul with a little bit of information about it. We have many architectural styles here in the Twin Cities, with Minneapolis and St Paul having the most historic real estate in the entire state.
So because there are so many styles that other parts of the country may not have, I thought I might start another series on the architectural styles of these homes. The first entry is called:

Second Empire

Built between 1855-1885

The most distinguishing feature of this style is the Mansard (dual-pitched hipped) roof, with dormer windows on a very steep slope. If you look under the the eaves of the roofs, you will see large, heavy decorative brackets adorning the area. On a historic home, these were made out of wood and are very expensive to replicate.

I have provided four photos of homes in Minneapolis, St Paul, and Red Wing. They all show a different subtype of the the homes and are labeled as follows, asymmetrical, simple square, towered, and townhouse.

Some of the homes have very simple windows, but others can be more elaborate with carved hoods as shown in the towered home photo. Another common element with windows is to come in pairs of two or three. You can also see that all windows in the roof line are arched above.
Some History
At the time, the Second Empire look was considered very stylish and modern. (mostly because it looked French). The roof was named after a 17th century French architect Francois Mansart and used heavily in France during the time of Napoleon III (1852-1870). When France fell out of favor in the late 1800s, so did the style.

One great thing about the style was the use of the third story attic, provided by the shape of the roof and the windows for light.

The first home shown is located at 649 Summit Avenue and is the only surviving Second Empire home built on Summit Avenue. One of the most elaborate built on Summit was the the Norman Kittson house, now demolished. The site is now the home of the St Paul Cathedral. The J.E. Moore house, also demolished is another great example of the style.

This is one of the most prominent homes in Red Wing, located just 40 minutes from the Twin Cities. The tower can be seen from miles away as you drive into town.

One of the only surviving examples of Second Empire Town Homes in the Twin Cities. Originally built as 8 multi-story units, they were recently converted to 16 condominiums.