William and Bertha Constans House 465 Summit Avenue

This brick house was built in 1886 for William and Bertha Constans for a cost of $18,400, with a $3,500 carriage house. Architect Augustus Gauger designed the home, although nothing of his original design is visible today. It was once Queen Anne in style with a five story tower on the south-east corner, but was remodeled in the 1920’s by Walter Hill, son of the railroad builder James J. Hill. Now Neo-Classical in style, the mansion was again remodeled in 1969, further altering its original form.

William Constans was born in June of 1829 in Diemeringen, France. Having only a common school education, he came to the United States in 1847, and moved to Saint Paul in 1850. He started work as a clerk for a grocery and tailor shop. After realizing a clerk would not get him to the financial position he wanted, he quit, and with about $300 in savings, started his own business, selling malts, hops, and brewer’s supplies. A year after starting the business, William had a partner, James Burbank, join in his business, and the company became the firm of “Constans and Burbank”.

William married Bertha Franckenberg on April 22nd, 1867 in Ozaukee County, Wisconsin, and together they raised six children. By 1883 his company was called “Constans and Schmidt”, and was the largest of its kind in the Northwest. With a fortune estimated at several hundred thousand dollars, he invested in a home on Summit Avenue in 1886.