David Stuart House 312 Summit Avenue

This large Italianate styled mansion was completed in 1858, and is the oldest standing structure on Summit Avenue. The original owner, David Stuart came to Saint Paul in the early 1850’s, and built a sawmill at the upper landing. His sawmill was instantly successful and he used his new found wealth to invest in a home on Summit Avenue. Construction of the house started in 1857, just as a national financial panic was sweeping the country. The large two story brick house, which is sheathed in cement was once crowned with cupola, which provided panoramic views of the entire Mississippi River valley.

David Stuart was born in Baltimore Maryland in 1802, and died shortly after moving into his Summit Avenue mansion. His widow, Mary Stuart and her three children remained in the house through the Civil War, but by the 1870’s the mansion was being used as a boarding house. The first major remodeling came in the 1880’s and was done by architect Cass Gilbert, and the second and most recent alteration took place in about 1910, with a reconfiguring of the floor plan and removal of the cupola.

The home has sheltered many prominent citizens of Saint Paul over its long history including General Herman and Cecelia Haupt. Herman was a general in the Civil War, and when he moved into the house in 1882 was general manager of the Northern Pacific Railway. Edmund Rice Jr. rented the house from Haupt in 1886. Rice was the son of the early pioneer Edmund Rice, a railroad developer in Minnesota. General Haupt sold the home for $35,000 in 1886 to Saint Paul real estate investors who leased the house to the Summit Avenue Club, who used it as headquarters for their sporting organization. The next resident to occupy the house was Mayor Robert A. Smith and wife Mary. Smith lived in the house from 1887 to 1899, and in October, 1887 hosted a luncheon in the mansion for President and Mrs. Grover Cleveland.

The longest term resident of the house was Arthur B. and Helen Driscoll. Driscoll was a wholesale fur merchant and was the son of the editor of the Pioneer Press, Frederick Driscoll, who built his home at 266 Summit Avenue in 1884. Helen was the daughter of pioneer shoe manufacturer Conrad Gotzian and was born in Saint Paul in 1863. Helen and Arthur were married in the elaborate Gotzian Mansion in Lowertown on December 30th, 1885, and they had seven children together. Arthur lived in the house until his death in 1938, and it was divided into apartments after Helen’s death in 1940. Today the house is restored and is once again a single family residence.

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