Grand Clarence Johnston Built Mansion on Summit Avenue

This weeks highlighted historic home is located at 476 Summit Avenue in St. Paul.

Built between 1883-1885, the home was designed by Clarence Johnston for Chauncey Griggs. As you can tell, it is surrounded by large trees, making it very difficult to get a good shot of the home. It is built in the Richardson Romanesque style, a very popular style at the time, at a cost of $35,000.

Returning to St. Paul after fighting in the Civil War, Griggs established a coal and lumber business with James J. Hill, then with R. W. Johnson, and finally with Addison G. Foster. His neighbor at 490 Summit Avenue, Mr. Foster, also had his home designed by Clarence Johnston.

Early photographs were taken of the home around 1888, and a very famous one from 1895 because of the children in the forefront, giving a good representation of period dress. The photos show the original look of the home, before some additions were made. The most notable change to the home is the removal of the front gable around 1940, being replaced by a huge skylight to give more light for its current owners, the St. Paul Gallery and School of Arts. The front porch that wrapped around the home has also been removed, making way for a ramp.

The current owners bought the home in 1982 and have been making many renovations to the home, bringing it back to its original splendor. You can imagine that over the years, many different types of interior design have graced the walls, so it is only understandable what a monumental task it is to restore the home. In 2004, the home was featured in the Summit Hill House Tour.

Some of the home features include “Grand hallways, twelve-foot ceilings on the first floor, majestic fireplaces, and a sweeping 26-foot high staircase… A unique carving of a cockfight adorns the fireplace in the music room and the dining room’s white marble mantle is decorated with a geometric serpentine inlay (a symbol of endless happiness) “.

One feature some may not like is the reported haunted house events. Seems the home is surrounded by stories at reported here.

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