Located near the Cathedral of St. Paul, the James J Hill House is a Gilded Age mansion. James J. Hill, who built the Great Northern Railway, and his family resided in the mansion during the mid to late 1800s. Now part of the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS), the house is open year round Wednesday-Sunday for guided tours, but MNHS recommends reservations. The art gallery is open daily.
5 Family-Friendly Annual Events at James J Hill House
Each year, the mansion is decorated for a Victorian Christmas throughout the month of December. Families can participate in 1-hour tours that explore how families would have celebrated the Holiday in the late 1800s, including music, treats, and ornaments, replicas of which can be found in the gift shop.
2. Winter on the Hill
On weekends during Winter Carnival, the house tours focus on the Hill family's connection to the St. Paul Winter Carnival and how families of the 1800s spent the long winters of Minnesota.
3. Irish Heritage Weekend
Mrs. Hill was an Irish immigrant and James Hill had a Scottish and Irish ancestry During this weekend, participants can learn Irish songs and stories.
4. Teddy Bear Story Time
Watch for popular Teddy Bear Story Times, when preschool-aged children can bring their teddy bears (and their parents) to a teddy-themed story time in the mansion.
5. Easter Egg Hunts
Each spring, kids can search the Hill House lawn for eggs. Afterwards, the family can listen to stories, enjoy a snack and explore the mansion.
Event and Tour Details:
Tickets for Special Events and Guided Tours: Find Tickets Online.
On Select Sundays, visitors can go on self-guided tours of the mansion. The price of admission includes these self-guided tours.
Parking for the James J Hill House is street parking on Summit Avenue and adjacent streets. Specifically, there is designated visitor parking on Summit Avenue directly in front of the house, but these spaces have a two-hour limit. If you prefer to use public transportation, the 21 Bus lets off at Selby and Summit near the cathedral, walking distance from the James J Hill House.
Exhibits at the James J Hill House Art Gallery
Hill built the art gallery to showcase his collection of French landscape paintings, much of which is now owned by the Minneapolis Institute of Art. Today, the gallery displays rotating exhibits. MNHS describes current exhibits here. Usually, visitors can view the art gallery exhibits as part of a house tour or separately with a $2 art gallery admission.
James J Hill House Pipe Organ
One of the features of this historic home is the recently restored 1891 pipe organ. In 2018, MNHS spent over $100,000 to bring the organ back to reliable and playable condition. Dobson Pipe Organ Builders in Iowa performed the rehab. Work included fighting deterioration of original wood and leather and releathering portions, repairing pipework, and replacing irreparable elements with new, but historically accurate, parts.