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James J Hill House

James J Hill House

Pen & Ink



The rugged red sandstone, massive scale, fine detail, and ingenious mechanical systems of this mansion recall the powerful presence of railroad magnate James J. Hill (1838-1916) ‘The Empire Builder’.  He was one of the major entrepreneurs in the early history of the state, and northwest region of the United States.  Among his accomplishments was the construction of the Chicago to Seattle Great Northern Railway.  Completed in 1891, this landmark residence was the setting of the public and private lives of the Hill family for three decades and remains the largest residence on Saint Paul’s famed Summit Avenue and one of the largest private dwellings in the state.  In 1961, the United States Department of the Interior designated the house a National Historic Landmark. The Minnesota Historical Society acquired the house in 1978.  Guided tours today help you imagine family and servant life in the Gilded Age mansion.  Looking across the grand lawn rises the nearby Cathedral of Saint Paul.