With the end of Downton Abbey fast approaching, my desire to get to Highclere Castle has only grown. But until I can get back across the pond, there’s a very special place in St. Paul I can visit to get a taste of Downton—the James J. Hill House, which has recently become known as “Minnesota’s Own Downton Abbey”.
Built by railroad baron James J. Hill in 1891, the magnificent mansion is perched on a hill on Summit Avenue overlooking downtown St. Paul. Stepping inside takes a person back to the Gilded Age. Featuring a grand staircase, fine woodwork by master carver Johannes Kirchmayer and an impressive three-story George Hutchings organ, visitors gain an understanding about high society at the turn of the century.
In addition, there’s a servant’s hall in the basement, along with a fine dining room with a wooden screen for servants to stand behind and go unnoticed. The grandness and the history is fascinating, and James J. Hill’s role in building our nation’s railroads makes it not only a Minnesota treasure but a national treasure as well.
It’s the perfect place to go when you’re needing a bit of a Downton-esque experience.