From the category archives:

Summit Avenue Historic Homes

Most Expensive Homes in the St. Paul Area

It’s always fun to see what the Most Expensive Homes For Sale look like, where they are located, and what price they are asking, so I thought I would update my readers and let them take a peak at these amazing homes, this time in St. Paul. Most are historic homes with some amazing architectural features that just can’t be replicated today.

View the rest of these luxury homes below:

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If you don’t know Summit Avenue, then you don’t know much about St. Paul. It is only the most prestigious street in the entire city, and some will go so far as to say in all the state of Minnesota. Summit Avenue is where all the old historic mansions are located, and is known to be one of the most best preserved historic districts in the nation, with its origins beginning in the 1850’s.

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Today, the historic home at 318 Summit Avenue in Saint Paul hit the MLS for $2.995 Million with Coldwell Banker , and with-in one hour it was pending. Three hours later it was listed as Sold at a price of $2.1 Million. Needless to say, a real estate deal was already completed before it went active on the market, the owner being a co-listing agent as well.

Below is a post I wrote about the history of this home, comprised of two other blog posts I wrote on my luxury real estate site.

This weeks showcase Historic Home is 318 Summit Ave in Saint Paul.

Built in 1893 by William H. Lightner for a sum of $24,000, the home was designed by the well known architect Cass Gilbert. Gilbert is credited with building a total of 8 homes on the Avenue. The home is a classic and simple representation of the Romanesque style, made famous by H.H. Richardson, in which the home is constructed of large, rough-cut stone. It is quite easy to recognize this architectural style on Summit Avenue in Saint Paul (approximately 12 homes were built between 1883-1893) as each of these home stands out from the common Queen Anne Victorian .

The current owners bought the home in June 2006 for $1,425,000 and are converting the home back to single family residential as it has been a multi-family home for a number of years. It sits on about a half an acre and boasts 7700 square feet, 6 bedrooms, and 8 bathrooms.

I was able to tour the home for one of its last showings with the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) 2007 Showcase Home Tour. Wow, is the only word to describe the home. Not only did the contractors and owners do a superb job at putting the pieces back together from the apartment building it had been converted to years back, but the designers finished the package with their beautiful array of colors, furniture, and accessories.

The original woodwork and moldings are still intact. Finely carved drip molding accents the staircase railing and the library has window moldings carved with the crest and date the home was built. Original chandeliers hang from the ceilings and it appears the windows are the originals as well. One interesting note is that homes on Summit use to have the kitchens located in the basement, with service delivered via a dumbwaiter. Victorians use to believe that guests would lose their appetite if they smelled the food while it was cooking. So a new kitchen was located in the back of the home where the billiard room use to be.

As you can see from the photos, the home now has some additions that blend in well with the architecture. Two garages were successfully built at the back of the home, with a terrace overlooking the river valley below. Also, the back of the home houses two, three season porches for relaxation and entertainment. Wondering what the dirt basement and previous kitchen became? Well now a bierstein resides there with a bar and wine cellar, as well as a bedroom, bath, and small kitchen.

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During the summer months, it is pretty difficult to see the rear of the mansions on Summit Avenue in Saint Paul due to all the trees and leaves. But in the winter, if you walk behind the hospital off of Grand and Smith, you can get a really good view of what these homes look like. It makes them all that much bigger in real life.


This weeks historic home is located at 485 Summit Avenue, Saint Paul.
Built in 1907 for and by James A. MacLeod, this Tudor Revival designed home, with its muted tones is a stark contrast to the Victorian homes on Summit. I wasn’t able to find any original photos of the home in the archives, but it is well documented that a two story addition was added in 1911 designed by Reed and Stem (see another house they designed on Summit), and that a sleeping porch and sunroom were added in 1922.

Mr. Macleod did not own the home for long. He sold the home to John G. Ordway in 1913, whose family owned the home until 1975. Ordway was the manager and treasurer of the Crane Company, formerly known as the Crane and Ordway Co., which produced plumbing and heating supplies.

The home is currently valued for about $1.5 Million, sits on .25 acres, and boasts over 6600 square feet!


This weeks showcase historic home is located at 332 Summit Avenue in St. Paul.

Built in 1889 by Edgar Long, the home was designed by the Cass Gilbert and James Taylor (who also built together the home next door, 322-324 Summit Avenue). At the time, this amazing home was built for only $30,000. It is reported that Mr. Long was the in the lumber business, as were many of the wealthy home owners on Summit, and the general manager of the Railway Supply Company.

Amazingly, not much has changed with this home. While many homes in the area have lost their porches, or had additions put on the home, this home has only had a few minor changes. The coach port, as seen in this photo, has been enclosed and now houses the kitchen on the main floor, with a sun room on the second level (addition). For the grand homes on this side of Summit, the kitchens were originally located in the basement, with food delivered via dumb-waiters. It was believed that the smell of food would cause appetites to sour, so all food was prepared below the home. The new kitchen, since placed in the once porte cochere, has the exterior wall of the home as an interior wall, letting you see the grand door arches that were once entrances into the home from a carriage.

The rear of the home has seen some changes, namely to the porch stairs, as well as the missing railing on the top balcony, and the third story breeze way has been enclosed with glass. You can see how the home looked in 1890 from this photo.

At about 7600 square feet, the home is very large, with seven bedrooms, five bathrooms, and a third story game room. One of the draw backs would be the one car garage underneath the kitchen, but many of these homes lack adequate garage stalls. The saving grace is that the garage is a drive through into the back yard, offering further private parking if needed. When these mansions were built, carriage houses existed to the rear of the home, but most of these are long gone. At 332 Summit, the ruins of the original carriage house are still present.

The home recently sold in 2006 for $1,499,000.


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.


One of my favorite historic homes recently sold this past month, 294 Summit Avenue. At a purchase price of $2,150,000, it is one of the most expensive homes to sell on Summit Avenue in Saint Paul.


This weeks featured historic home is located at 475 Summit Avenue in Saint Paul, MN.

Why is it that I am always saddened when I walk by this home? Probably because it looks to be slowly deteriorating, but I could be wrong. Originally built somewhere between 1880-1883, this simple Queen Anne was commissioned by James Gamble, and designed by George Wirth. Mr. Wirth built six homes on Summit Avenue.

The exterior is constructed of stone, the home has most of its original features. The front bay window on the second floor has been altered, but the most significant change came to the front porch, only a decade after it was built. The Victorian styled lattice porch was changed to a more Richardson Romanesque style porch made of stone, which can be seen in the photos below.

Here are some photos of the home as it appeared in 1888, 1890, 1900. According to public records, the home has over 7000 square feet with 10 bedrooms. It is currently used as apartments.

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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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