Return of Popular Summit Avenue Walking Tours Part of May Offerings at James J. Hill House

For immediate release

Release dated: 
April 3, 2013
Media contacts: 

Megan Lawson • Marketing and Communications • 651-259-3141 •

Jessica Kohen • Marketing and Communications • 651-259-3148 •

Craig Johnson • James J. Hill House • 651-296-9396 •

Quick facts: 

Place: James J. Hill House
Address: 240 Summit Ave., St. Paul MN 55102
Phone: 651-297-2555

Return of Popular Summit Avenue Walking Tours Part of May Offerings at James J. Hill House

Visit the James J. Hill House in May for the return of the popular Summit Avenue Walking Tours. Explore the stately avenue in spring as the lilacs bloom and the neighborhood comes to life. Tours are offered every weekend, May through September. Plus, see inside the mansion on a 75-minute guided tour of the house. Tours are offered every half-hour during open hours (schedule subject to change). Reservations are recommended. Additional programs are offered this May.

What: Summit Avenue Walking Tours
When: Every Saturday and Sunday, May through September
Time: 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturdays; 2 p.m. Sundays
Cost: $12 adults, $10 seniors and college students, $8 children ages 6-17; $2 discount for MHS members.
Reservations: Recommended; call 651-297-2555

Historic Summit AvenueTake a 90-minute walking tour of the Summit Avenue neighborhood, named one of America's "Great Streets" in 2008. These tours highlight the colorful history of the Gilded-Age mansions that line the prestigious avenue and the people who owned and built them. Guides will discuss the architecture, social history and current preservation efforts of the historic neighborhood.

The tour covers 1.5 miles, starting at the James J. Hill House, proceeding west on Summit Avenue, returning via side streets and alleyways and concluding outside the Cathedral of St. Paul. All areas are handicapped accessible, but some side streets are cobblestone and have historic stone curbs. These popular tours are offered every Saturday and Sunday, May through September. Call for group tour information.

If attending during the weekend of May 25-26, make sure to catch "Death of the Empire Builder," a two day program celebrating the life and accomplishments of James J. Hill, held at the Hill House.

What: Relax Into Mother's Day
When: Sunday, May 12
Time: 6 p.m. tour, 7 p.m. class
Cost: $15/$13 MHS members.
Reservations: Recommended; call 651-297-2555

Rest and RelaxationSpend Mother's day with a tour and relaxation class at the James J. Hill House. This special Mother's Day tour will highlight the lives and changing relationships of the women who lived and worked at the Hill House at the turn of the 20th century. Learn about Mrs. Hill, her daughters and the many female servants at 240 Summit Avenue.

After the tour, guests will gather in the drawing room, where life coach Beth Freschi will lead an hour-long relaxation session, employing modern-day relaxation techniques. The class will begin with deep breathing, followed by muscle relaxation exercise, guided imagery and meditation. Light refreshments are included. This program is for those 18 years of age and older.

What: Death of the Empire Builder
When: Saturday, May 25 and Sunday, May 26
Time: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday; 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday
Cost: $9 for adults; $7 for seniors and college students; $6 for children ages 6-17. Free for MHS members.
Reservations: recommended; call 651-297-2555

James J. Hill, known as the “Empire Builder” for his work building a network of rail and shipping lines from the Great Lakes to the Pacific Ocean, died in his Summit Avenue home on May 29, 1916, at age 77. Hill left behind a personal fortune of $63 million. As one of the wealthiest and most powerful figures of America’s Gilded Age, Hill embodied the era of Manifest Destiny. Tours will emphasize Hill’s career and the public’s reaction to his death. Guests can view displays of photographs and newspaper articles, and a small selection of memorial volumes, including one given to the family by the Great Northern Railway, created by Tiffany and Company. Guest organists will play music used at the Hill funeral which was held at the house in 1916.

About the James J. Hill House

Completed in 1891, the Gilded Age mansion was the residence of James J. Hill, builder of the Great Northern Railway, and his family. The home is located one-half block west of the Cathedral of St. Paul at 240 Summit Avenue. It is open for regular tours year-round, from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and 1 to 3:30 p.m. Sundays. Reservations are recommended. For more information, call 651-297-2555.

May is Museums Month

Minnesota Museums Month is a statewide celebration of museums, their stories, and their communities. This May, visit a new museum in your community, take a road trip, or return to one of your favorites that you haven’t seen in a while. Museums of every type—art, historical, science, arboretums, zoos and more—are participating. For more information visit

About the Minnesota Historical Society

The Society’s calendar of events is posted online at The website also has information about all of the Society’s programs, museums and historic sites.

The Minnesota Historical Society is a non-profit educational and cultural institution established in 1849. The Society 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, the Society 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.