Joseph Forepaugh House 302 Summit Avenue

After spending time in Europe to treat his mental health, Joseph and Mary Forepaugh moved into their new mansion on Summit Avenue in 1891. Their previous house in Irvine Park, which is now a restaurant, was sold to a famous Civil War general, John Henry Hammond. Designed by the firm Mould and McNicol in the Queen Anne style, the new house was completed at a cost of $24,000 in 1889.

Joseph Forepaugh was born in 1837 in Pennsylvania. He came to Saint Paul in 1858 and quickly formed a dry goods business called Forepaugh and Justice. On October 19th, 1862 Joseph married Mary Lanpher and together they had five children. He went into other business ventures such as wholesale boot and shoes, and in 1888 retired from the commercial life and started investing in real estate.

In early July of 1892 Joseph Forepaugh committed suicide in the woods near Selby and Hamline, and was found a few days after. His only grandchild witnessed him leaving the city by streetcar. After Forepaugh was reported missing the police questioned the family and the young child’s recollection of where her grandpa was headed led them to the body. No note or writing was ever found on a cause of the decision, but Joseph was a man who always worried about being in poverty, and likely took his life to escape the financial crash of 1893. Many people lost everything in the crash, but the Forepaugh family fared well from Joseph’s estate, collecting on the real estate he owned for several decades after his death.

The family home at 302 Summit stayed with the Forepaughs until 1947, when it was sold and divided into apartments like many of the large mansions in the area. At one time it housed 19 separate apartments, but is now divided into three condominiums.