Tour Minnesota Homes
By Ellie M. Bayrd
Six places where you can take a tour, view beautiful architecture, and unearth fun facts about some Minnesotans who made their mark on this state.
James J. Hill House
Operated by the Minnesota Historical Society, this mansion on Summit Avenue in St. Paul was once home to James J. Hill, builder of the Great Northern Railway. Explore the Guilded Age mansion, a National Historic Landmark designed in the Richardsonian Romanesque style and completed in 1891, on a 75-minute guided tour. I took this tour a few years ago with a friend who was visiting and I loved the chance to learn a bit more about Minnesota history and see inside this gorgeous home. Hours: Wed.-Sat. 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m. and Sun.1-3:30 p.m. (tours offered on the half hour, reservations recommended). Admission: $6-$9.
Glensheen, the Historic Congdon Estate
This grand mansion in Duluth features stunning Jacobean Revival architecture and has a place on the National Register of Historic Places. Hours: Sat. and Sun. from 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. (first tour at 10 a.m., last tour at 3 p.m.). Open daily during the summer. Admission: $5 (grounds), $9-$15 (standard) or $15-$26 (expanded).
LeDuc Historic Estate
Located in Hastings, this property on the National Register of Historic Places is an example of unaltered Gothic Revival architecture. William LeDuc, an attorney, was a distinguished Civil War officer and served as U.S. Commissioner of Agriculture under President Rutherford B. Hayes. Summer hours: Wed.-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sun. 1-5 p.m. (tours at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m., and 4 p.m.). Admission $3-$6.
Charles A. Lindbergh Historic Site
The aviator, who was made famous by his award-winning nonstop flight from New York to Paris in 1927, grew up in Little Falls. Lucky Lindy's childhood home, operated by the Minnesota Historical Society, features original family furnishings and possessions. The adjacent interpretive center has a variety of exhibits, as well as a full-size replica of the Spirit of St. Louis. Opens Memorial Day weekend. Hours: Thurs.-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun. noon-5 p.m. Admission: $6-$8.
Ard Godfrey House
Built in 1849, the Ard Godfrey house is the oldest remaining frame residence in Minneapolis. The house, restored to its glory days, features furnishings and household items from the period 1949-1853. Learn about the Godfrey family, some of the first permanent settlers to the area, and ask about the dandelion story, from costumed docents. Opens for the summer on June 4. Hours: Sat. and Sun. from 1-4 p.m. Admission: free.
Minnesota Governor's Residence
The Governor's Mansion
The Governor's residence celebrates 100 years this year. William Channing Whitney designed the mansion, which first opened in 1912, in the Beaux Art style (inspired by English Tudor country manors). The residence has housed 10 governors, including Governor Mark Dayton. The property, on the National Register of Historic Places, and the gardens are open for public tours this summer: June 5 & 19, July 10 & 24 and August 7 & 21. Reservations required for tours of the interior.