Watson and Sarah Davidson House 344 Summit Avenue

On the site where 344 Summit is today, there was once a large stone mansion built for Samuel and Elizabeth Magoffin. Built at a cost of $8,000, the house was designed by local architect George Wirth in the Queen Anne style. Samuel was a local lawyer in Saint Paul and had an office in the Pioneer Press building in Downtown. The Magoffin family moved from their home on Summit in the 1897, and rented a house in Irvine Park. The move was likely due to the financial panic of 1893, where many wealthy people lost most of their fortunes, and were forced out of their mansions. The home on Summit stood until 1914, when it was demolished to make way for a new house. The present house was built in 1915 for Watson and Sarah Davidson. Beaux Arts in style, the home was designed by Thomas Holyoke, and construction costs came to about $40,000.

Watson Pogue Davidson was born in South Point, Ohio on February 19th, 1871. He married Sarah Matilda Davidson on April 8th, 1896 in Lawrence, Ohio, and together they had five children. By 1898 the couple was living in Saint Paul, and by 1900 Watson was working in real estate. He quickly amassed a fortune in the business, and in 1915 could afford to build a home on Summit Avenue. Sarah and Watson lived in together in their home on Summit Avenue until Matilda’s death in 1945. Watson stayed in the house until his death in 1954, and his family sold the home. The mansion was used as the College of Visual Arts from 1961 until 2013.