George Freeman House 505 Summit Avenue

The house at 505 Summit Avenue was built in 1896 for George Freeman. Designed by Cass Gilbert in the Medieval Rectilinear style, it is constructed of stone and cost $20,000 to build. Cass Gilbert is one of the most celebrated Victorian era architects in the country and designed several homes along Summit Avenue. His national fame as an architect truly began after he won the contract to design the Minnesota state capitol building in Saint Paul and today much of his work survives in the Summit Hill and Crocus Hill neighborhoods.

George William Freeman was born on May 24th, 1845 in Huntingdonshire, England. He was the son of Joseph and Sarah Freeman and the fourth of seven children. On March 25th, 1853, Joseph and Sarah moved with six of their children to the U.S., and their eldest Sara stayed behind in England. Upon arriving in New York, the Freeman family made their way to Cleveland, Ohio where they lived for the next two years. On June 8th, 1855 they left Cleveland and arrived in Saint Paul seven days later.

George attended the public schools of Saint Paul. By 1860 he was living with his sister Susan, her husband Louis, their two children, and his sister Eliza in Saint Paul, while his parents were living in White Bear Lake. That same year he started work at a footwear company and worked there until 1868 when he left to become a traveling salesman for C. Gotzian and Co. a retail boot and shoe company. In 1867 George married Mary Isobel Dony and together they had seven children. In 1876 he became president of the Gotzian company. While the family was living on Bates Avenue in Saint Paul’s east side, Georges wife Marry died in 1891. That same year Gotzian and Co. had its best year in business.

By 1895 George Freeman had amassed a fortune in retail and real estate that even survived the nation’s great financial panic of 1893, and a year later he invested in a new home on Summit Avenue. He lived in his new home with his children and a few servants. By 1912 George had moved out of his home on Summit Avenue began renting houses in the Crocus Hill neighborhood of Saint Paul until his death in 1916. Several famous families lived in the Freeman family home at 505 Summit Avenue including Dr. Egil Boeckmann and his wife Rachel Hill, daughter of railroad magnate James J. Hill. Today the house is a private residence.