Heading south on Snelling Avenue past the fairgrounds and past Interstate 94, you drive into the quintessential St. Paul. You will past Marshall and Selby Avenues. You keep going until you go to one of the most elaborate areas of all the Twin Cities: Summit Avenue.
(Photos courtesy of little_sob)
Summit Avenue has big houses, extravagant yards--be them small--and beautiful fences. This section of town is not only breathtakingly beautiful, but it oozes history and culture. The houses don't make you itch so much as to see the inside (which you totally want to), but you want to know the story behind the house.
Each house has it's own individual unique personality. You won't find the same house along this magnificent parkway. And that's what this parkway is: Magnificent.
From Snelling Avenue, if you turn east, you will ultimately end up at the Cathedral. As you meander closer and closer to the Cathedral, soaking it all in, you will come upon the James J. Hill House.
And this house? You CAN go in.
|Image courtesy of http://photobucket.com/profile/rodgergawkrodgerveryjr/index|
This house is a historical monument/museum.
Who is James J. Hill?
And why do I care to go into his house?
First of all, you care to into his house because you can. It's one of the only ones on Summit Ave you that you are can check out without being a freakish weirdo by asking a complete stranger if you can look around their house.
But if that isn't reason enough, let me explain who James J. Hill is.
He was born in 1836 as a Canadian. Hey, we are Minnesotans here. We have nothing against the Canadians.
He worked in St. Paul in the the shipping business for 20 years and then with some other investors bought out a bankrupt railway. He renamed it the Great Northern Railway in 1890.
If nothing else, James J. Hill was a positive thinker. If you call it great, it will be great.
He died in 1916 with 63 million dollars.
63 MILLION dollars!
63 million dollars is a lot of money now.
Can you imagine how much it was a hundred years ago?
Oh, my WORD!
So with that kind of money, what is spending $931,275.01 on a house? The house was 5 stories with 36,000 square feet. It had 22 fireplaces, 13 bathrooms (THIRTEEN!), 16 crystal chandeliers, a 2 story art gallery (in his home), and central heating.
This house is beyond today's standards. Way beyond.
Well, maybe not to a 63 millionaire.
But I can't think that it would be too shabby to one of those either. Even today.
James J. Hill is the picture of a rich man during the Gilded Age of St. Paul, but he was a rich man who worked really really hard.