James J. Hill House, St. Paul, Minnesota

The James J. Hill House sits at the beginning of Summit Hill, which heads out west along the top of the bluffs above downtown St. Paul, and just beyond the Cathedral of St. Paul. It is lined with mansions from the Gilded Age, and its revival is one of the great success stories of historic preservation in America. James Hill was a railroad tycoon, and his Romanesque Revival mansion is in an excellent example. It reminds me of the Cupples House in St. Louis, and it also shows the wide variety of the Romanesque Revival style throughout America.

It also has one of the coolest gatehouses I’ve seen in an urban house, sitting right up at the property line. It even had its own fireplace to keep the servant warm!

Porches such as these with their hulking single stone columns are also typical of the style, and remind me of the side porch of the Stockton House back in St. Louis.

The porte cochere is also a standout; from a distance it looks like it has no roof.

But on closer inspection we realize it has a carefully restored glass skylight.

Beautiful details such as copper flashing and downspouts, stone lintels and arches, and slate roofs make this an exceptional house.

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