A tour of the historic James J. Hill house

The James J. Hill House
The James J. Hill House in St. Paul was completed in 1891. It has 13 bathrooms, 22 fireplaces, and 16 crystal chandeliers. The exterior stone was brought in -- by train, of course -- from New England.
MPR Photo/Jeff Jones

Some of the state's most historic homes will open their doors this weekend for the Ramsey Hill House Tour.

Just up Summit Avenue from downtown St. Paul, the national historic district features one of the largest and best-preserved groups of Victorian-era homes in North America.

Sunday's walking tour will also feature the Commodore Hotel, where F. Scott Fitzgerald spent some time. But, anchoring the Ramsey Hill neighborhood, is the domed Cathedral of Saint Paul and the landmark James J. Hill House.

When it was completed in 1891, the residence of the railroad baron James J. Hill, was the largest and most expensive home in Minnesota. It cost over $900,000 to build and furnish, or about $22 million in today's dollars.

The 36,000 square foot, stone mansion includes 13 bathrooms, 22 fireplaces, it's own two-story art gallery, complete with pipe organ -- and many sophisticated technical systems that were well ahead of their time.

These days, the Hill House is operated by the Minnesota Historical Society. Craig Johnson is the site manager, and he took All Things Considered on a tour of the house.

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