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Summit Hill House Tour-A Rare Chance to Step Inside History


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James J. Hill House

Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Historical Society

In 1972, Summit Avenue—since called "one of the top 10 great streets in America"—was in a slump and old buildings were in danger of being torn down. Thankfully, that's the same year the Summit Hill Association began the biennial Summit Hill House Tour, a fundraiser for the association and reminder to attendees of the importance and beauty of the historic homes. Today, Summit Avenue is the nation's longest avenue of preserved Victorian homes, and the tour is one of the most popular of its kind in the nation. 

Just like the homes, the tour is rare: It is held only one day every other year, and there are different houses and spaces on the tour each time, meaning this could be the only opportunity you'll ever get to walk inside these places. This year you'll have the chance to step in 10 private homes and three public spaces, including the former home of railroad baron James J. Hill, the Steppingstone Theatre, and Saint Thomas More Catholic Church, and admire architecture by the likes of Cass Gilbert, Clarence Johnston and others. The tours are self-guided, with volunteers stationed to take you through the homes. You can walk, bike, drive, or take a free shuttle-bus in between.  

To get an idea of the types of stories behind the homes, take a listen here:

If you're at all interested in architecture or history, there really isn't a lovelier way to spend an afternoon. And if you don't now, you might not get a chance to again.

Info: The tour takes place on September 14 from noon to 6 p.m. Advance tickets are $25, on the day of the tour they're $30. You can purchase tickets online, at the Summit Hill Association office, Kowalski's Markets, Great Harvest Bread Company on Selby Avenue, Bibelot, or D'Amico and Sons.

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