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“Almost Overwhelming”
Review of James J Hill House

James J Hill House
Ranked #4 of 119 things to do in Saint Paul
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Rugged stone, massive scale, fine detail and ingenious mechanical systems recall the powerful presence of James J. Hill, builder of the Great Northern Railway. Guides lead tours that help you imagine family and servant life in the Gilded Age mansion, the setting of the public and private lives of the Hill family. The James J. Hill House is a National Historic Landmark.
Level Contributor
19 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Almost Overwhelming”
Reviewed 3 July 2014

This house was seriously just amazing, and the tour was excellent.

We got there two minutes late, and the tour had already started, but the receptionist still got us in because we had reservations. The tour guide was knowledgeable and informative and was able to take any question. She was also very good with the kids on the tour, who were invited to do a "pictorial scavenger hunt".

The house itself was absolutely amazing... almost overwhelming in its size and scope, and it really inspired me to create and think of my own future dream house. The history in the house was almost palpable. It was a truly amazing experience.

The only complaint I have is that some of the areas we didn't get to go into... mainly the girls rooms, the servants rooms, and the attic. This is understandable because some were being used as offices etc, but I still would have liked to see the whole house and get the whole experience. It was also rather warm in the upper levels of the house. They keep the place dark because 1) it uses the original electricity, and 2) light can degrade pictures and stuff, so keep that in mind.

Things to consider: Lots of walking (they have an elevator, but its still a lot). You can't really touch anything, not even the walls, so it may not be the best for littler kids. If you're in a large group the tour may move faster or slower than you would like. You can take pictures, but no flash is allowed.

Visited July 2014
Thank Ryan L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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364 reviews from our community

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English first
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Level Contributor
17 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Summit Avenue's Glory Days”
Reviewed 30 June 2014

Tour a stately and historic mansion on St. Paul's famous Summit Avenue. Don't be surprised if you spot a ghost in the dark recesses of this spectacular and enormous home.

Visited May 2014
Thank VonPicky
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Level Contributor
82 reviews
43 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
“Nice 1900s Home and History”
Reviewed 24 June 2014

This is a nice way to see turn of the century wealth and learn a little Minnesota history. But the architecture and such is not particularly impressive or notable.

Visited June 2014
Thank Thaddeus P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Portland, Oregon
Level Contributor
10 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Very impressive mansion”
Reviewed 23 June 2014

This is the house of the man who built the Great Northern Railway. It is located on gorgeous Summit Ave, opposite from St Mary's Basilica. The modern features of this house and the master craftsmanship were very impressive. What I liked very much was that any furniture on display belonged to the family. Because of this, most of the rooms were sparsely furnished but I have felt cheated when furniture is historic homes "are representive of the times." If you have a car, you can drive down Summit Ave starting from Snelling to see all the other mansions on this historic street.

Visited June 2014
Thank marzipan43
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
57 reviews
27 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
“A house befitting a tycoon of the Gilded Age”
Reviewed 18 June 2014

The Hill house is indeed lavish and very interesting, and the tour guides do an excellent job of storytelling. Highly recommended!

Hill was one of the wealthiest and most powerful businessmen of his time, but many of us aren't aware of him because he didn't put his name on his wealth, unlike his contemporaries -- Carnegie, Vanderbilt, J. P. Morgan, Rockefeller, Ford and so on. His home was was made of the best materials and furnishings and had all the latest conveniences.

Visitors park on the street, and might have to walk a couple of blocks to reach the house. The tour lasts 75 minutes. Visitors are seated for the introduction and about halfway through the tour during the video. Otherwise, they are standing or walking. Restrooms are available. Tour groups are limited in size so everyone can see and hear well.

Visited May 2014
Thank SDCathy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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