For immediate release
Alexander Ramsey House Continues Efforts to Reinvent the Historic Home by Adding New Guided Tours
Starting May 27, the Alexander Ramsey House in St. Paul will offer new regular summer hours every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m through September 2.
On Saturdays, visitors can experience new guided tours of Minnesota’s first territorial governor’s historic home. Tours will explore ideas of what pieces of history get saved and why, both through the lens of the Ramsey family home—one of the nation’s best-preserved Victorian-era houses—and visitors’ personal experiences. Guests will also get the chance to view some rarely seen Ramsey artifacts and explore absent historical narratives that don’t always get preserved over time.
The Alexander Ramsey House last offered regular open hours—other than during the holiday season—in 2010. At the time, the historic site struggled with budget constraints and rapidly decreasing visitation. In recent years, many historic house museums around the country have faced similar problems. MNHS’ solution was to reimagine the traditional experience at the site and explore what an 1870s Victorian home could offer 21st century visitors.
After research, public input and collaboration with community stakeholders, the Alexander Ramsey House transformed into a historic site with open hours driven by a special events schedule rather than general daily visitation. During redevelopment work, MNHS also discovered that Minnesotans were eager for ways to engage with history in an informal, social setting. So new event series, like Ramsey After Dark and History Happy Hour, became new staples, exploring exciting, often controversial topics that connect to the Ramseys’ history, like mental illness and St. Paul’s red light district.
Since 2011, the site’s revenue and attendance have increased each year, and its programs frequently sell out. While visitation was 5,006 in 2010-2011, it more than doubled to 13,132 visitors in 2015-2016. Today staff also see many more repeat visitors, including both new audiences and MNHS members.
Now in 2017, with guests asking for more opportunities to visit the Alexander Ramsey House, summer is the perfect time to begin new regularly scheduled guided tours, while still maintaining the site’s event-driven model.
“We can have a great and varied offering of programming to entice people, whether they’re a ‘history lover,’ ‘history liker’ or maybe never thought history was important until one of our programs piqued their curiosity,” says Jayne Becker, program development specialist at the Minnesota Historical Society. “Each time you join us you can discover more stories, learn new things and experience the site in a different way from visit to visit.”
About the Alexander Ramsey House
The Alexander Ramsey House is located at 265 S. Exchange St., one block south of West 7th Street near downtown St. Paul. One of the nation’s best preserved Victorian-era houses, the home offers a glimpse into the 1870s life of Alexander Ramsey, Minnesota's first territorial governor, and his family. The rebuilt carriage house contains a gift shop. The home is open during the holiday season for regular tours, for guided tours on Saturdays between May 27 and September 2 and for special events throughout the year. For more information, visit www.mnhs.org/ramseyhouse.
The Minnesota Historical Society is a non-profit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. MNHS collects, preserves and tells the story of Minnesota’s past through museum exhibits, libraries and collections, historic sites, educational programs and book publishing. Using the power of history to transform lives, MNHS preserves our past, shares our state’s stories and connects people with history.
The Minnesota Historical Society is supported in part by its Premier Partners: Xcel Energy and Explore Minnesota Tourism.