Rau-Strong House

Continuing west on George Street, there are three residences worth admiring. Just south of the Riverview Library is the Rau-Strong House at 2 East George.

Adam Rau was a stonecutter and contractor, born in Germany. He quarried the limestone for this residence (native limestone was St. Paul's first choice for truly permanent structures in the early years.) The walls are two feet thick and the style, according to Larry Millett, “a melange . . . but more Italianate than anything else.” Rau designed it himself. The house went up in 1883, and Rau may have had plans for it from the beginning. When his daughter Elizabeth married Ossian Strong in 1885 the place soon became theirs.

Strong, the son of a farm laborer from New York, worked 50 years for the same wholesale grocery company, Foley Brothers & Kelly. Elizabeth Rau died at age 33 in 1894, leaving three young daughters. Strong used the house’s size to advantage; soon he had both his parents and his mother-in-law living there too. Strong died at age 72 in 1922. The house stayed in the family until 1986.