The James J. Hill House presents a variety of special events throughout the year, from concerts to theatrical events to theme tours. Visit our calendar of events for upcoming dates.
The bustle and excitement of a Gilded Age Christmas is brought to life as the servants of the James J. Hill House prepare for the holidays. Costumed actors portray people who worked for the Hill family in a dramatized portrayal of servant life and holiday preparations at the Hill family’s Summit Avenue mansion. The one-hour program moves through the elegant first floor spaces and then to the basement servant work areas. The script is based on letters and oral histories of people who worked for the Hill family during the first decade of the 20th century.
Take a walking tour of the historic Summit Avenue neighborhood, led by a guide from the James J. Hill House. Tours are offered every Saturday and Sunday, May through September. Tours begin at the Hill House and proceed west along Summit Avenue, named one of America’s “Great Streets.” The group returns via side streets and alleyways to conclude outside the Cathedral of Saint Paul. The tours focus on the architecture, original owners, social history and current preservation issues facing this nationally recognized historic district. The tour covers 1.5 miles and uses public sidewalks and parks. All areas are handicapped accessible, but some side streets are cobblestone and have stone curbs.
Explore the back staircases, dust chutes, silver vault and more on this 90-minute “behind-the-scenes” tour of the Hill House. Visitors will see the top-floor attic with original theater, take the back stairs to the basement, view storage areas not on the regular tour, and take a peek inside the gate house overlooking Summit Avenue. Guides will also discuss the technological innovations present in the house at the time of its construction in the late 19th century, and the difficulties of preserving such a building today. The 6 pm and 7:30 pm tours are led by a costumed interpreter portraying a construction worker or house servant.
The Hill House Chamber Players have been presenting concert seasons in the art gallery for more than twenty years. Concerts are held in fall, winter and spring. Complimentary refreshments are served during intermission and tours of the Hill House are available following the performance. The Chamber Players are Jeffrey Van, guitar; Tanya Remenikova, cello; Rees Allison, piano; Julie Ayer, violin; Catherine Schubilske, violin; and Thomas Turner, viola. Co-sponsored by the Schubert Club.
F. Scott Fitzgerald Walking Tour
Celebrate F. Scott Fitzgerald with a 75-minute guided walking tour of the St. Paul neighborhood where he spent much of his youth. Tours are offered near Fitzgerald's birthday in late September, or by appointment for private groups. Tours begin in front of the Commodore Hotel at 79 Western Ave., and include stops at 599 Summit Ave., where Fitzgerald wrote his first novel “This Side of Paradise,” and his birthplace at 481 Laurel Ave. Participants will hear about Fitzgerald’s early years, his relationship with his wife, Zelda, the impact of St. Paul on his stories and novels, and connections to the Hill family and other prominent neighbors. Guides will also discuss the importance of the neighborhood to other writers — from Sinclair Lewis to Garrison Keillor, Patricia Hampl and August Wilson. Tour stops do not include interiors.
Victorian Ghost Stories
Costumed actors present dramatic readings of 19th-century ghost stories in the dimly light parlor of the James J. Hill House. The one-hour program includes works by Edgar Allan Poe, Edith Wharton and the Brothers Grimm, as well as lesser-known authors of the period, plus some “true” ghost stories. Not recommended for children under age 10. The presentation will be followed by a tour of the Hill House (included in admission) and hot cider will be served.
Celebrate spring at the James J. Hill House with an outdoor egg hunt on the Hill House lawn. Children ages 2-7 are invited to look in their age-designated area for up to 6 eggs (please bring your own basket). Visitors can win prizes, enjoy a small snack, hear stories and look around the first floor of the elegant Gilded Age home. When the Hill children enjoyed their own egg hunt in 1898, Mrs. Hill noted in her diary, “a large gray and stray rabbit joined them most unexpectedly.” Reservations are strongly encouraged. All children must be accompanied by an adult. Event is outdoors, so please dress appropriately.