A Gilded Age Christmas

Want to celebrate the season like they did in the Gilded Age? Now you can, with a number of holiday events taking place at the James J. Hill House. At the time Hill completed his house in 1891, it was the largest and most expensive house in the state. The 36,000 square foot mansion was built with 13 bathrooms, 22 fireplaces, 16 crystal chandeliers, a two-story art gallery, 100-foot reception hall and elaborately carved woodwork. Touring this house anytime of the year is a treat, but pairing that with a holiday event is even better.

Photo courtesy of
Minnesota Historical Society

Hill House Holidays: Dec. 15, 16, 22 & 23, 1-3:30 p.m.
The servants of the house have been busy preparing for the holidays, as you’ll see in this dramatized portrayal. From a script based on letters and oral histories of people who worked for the family during the first decade of the 20th century, costumed actors will give you an insight into their everyday lives and holiday duties. This one-hour program will take you through the first floor spaces before entering the servant work areas in the basement. $12 adults, $10 seniors and college students, $8 children ages 6-17, $2 discount for MHS members.

Victorian Christmas Stories: Dec. 16, 7:30 p.m.
19th century Christmas literature is brought to life as costumed actors perform holiday classics from Mark Twain and Willa Cather, O. Henry’s “Gift of the Magi” and portions of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Light refreshments and a tour of the house are included. $12 adults, $10 seniors and college students, $8 children ages 6-17, $2 discount for MHS members.  

Victorian Christmas Carols: Dec. 22 & 23, 6 & 7:30 p.m.
Listen to popular seasonal songs from the 19th and 20th centuries. Taking place in the home’s art gallery, eight costumed singers; a pianist and narrator will perform period classics. The event concludes with light refreshments and a tour of the house. $12, $10 MHS members.

James J. Hill House
240 Summit Avenue, St. Paul