James J. Hill House Hosts Victorian Holiday Tours, Stories and Carols in December

For immediate release

Release dated: 
November 6, 2013
Media contacts: 

Megan Lawson • Marketing and Communications • 651-259-3141 • megan.lawson@mnhs.org

Jessica Kohen • Marketing and Communications • 651-259-3148 • jessica.kohen@mnhs.org

Craig Johnson • James J. Hill House • 651-296-9396 • craig.johnson@mnhs.org

Quick facts: 

Place: James J. Hill House
Address: 240 Summit Ave., St. Paul MN 55102
Phone: 651-297-2555
Email: hillhouse@mnhs.org
Website: http://www.mnhs.org/hillhouse

James J. Hill House Hosts Victorian Holiday Tours, Stories and Carols in December


Visit the James J. Hill House in December to explore Victorian era holiday programs including the popular Hill House Holidays tours with costumed actors preparing the mansion for the season. Plus, take in classic 19th century Christmas literature and Victorian Christmas carols in live performances.

Reservations are recommended for all programs.

Event: Hill House Holidays
Date: Weekends, Dec. 7 and 8, 14 and 15, 21 and 22
Time: 1 to 3:30, tours begin every 30 minutes
Cost: $12 adults, $10 seniors and students, $8 children ages 6-17; $2 discount for MNHS members.
Reservations: recommended; call 651-297-2555

Known as the Empire Builder, James J. Hill developed his railroad lines during the rapidly expanding economy of the Gilded Age. Sparing no expense and entrenching himself in the project from beginning to end, Hill oversaw the planning, construction and furnishing of his 36,500 square-foot mansion which was completed in 1891. With 13 bathrooms, 22 fireplaces, a two-story art gallery, a three-story pipe organ and carved woodwork throughout to tend to, surely the servants who worked at the Hill house were kept especially busy during the holiday season.

In this one-hour program, costumed actors portray employees working through the first floor of the house following a script based on letters and oral histories of people who worked for the Hill family. The dramatic portrayal of early 20th century holiday preparations includes a trip to the mansion's basement, where the servant work areas were located.

Event: Victorian Christmas Stories
Date: Sunday, Dec. 15
Time: 6 p.m.
Cost: $12 adults, $10 seniors and students, $8 children ages 6-17; $2 discount for MNHS members.
Reservations: recommended; call 651-297-2555 or register online

storyExplore the James J. Hill House decorated for the holidays. Get comfortable and enjoy warm, lively performances of some of the most popular and enduring Christmas stories of the 19th century. Costumed actors Craig Johnson and Kirby Bennett perform 19th-century holiday classics by Mark Twain, Willa Cather and O. Henry ("Gift of the Magi"), as well as selections from Charles Dickens' beloved "A Christmas Carol. Hear how Christmas literature and other popular Christmas traditions developed during the 19th century. This one-hour program includes light refreshments as well as a tour of the Hill House.

Event: Victorian Christmas Carols
Date: Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 20, 21 and 22
Time 7 and 8:30 p.m. Friday, 6 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Cost: $12/$10 MNHS members.
Reservations: recommended; call 651-297-2555 or register online


Enjoy a wide selection of popular seasonal holiday songs of the 19th and early 20th century in this hour-long concert featuring eight costumed singers, a narrator and a pianist, who will be playing the Schubert Club's Steinway grand piano. The concert will take place in the Hill House's skylit art gallery, which houses the three-story pipe organ created for the Hill family when they moved into the mansion in 1891.The performance will begin with an opening featuring the distinguished organ. Admission includes light refreshments and a tour of the mansion will follow each performance.

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.

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

About the Minnesota Historical Society
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.