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Minnesota Historical Society Podcast Tours

February 22, 2009

001.07 - 599 Summit Ave

Filed under: Summit Avenue — admin @ 9:49 am

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People often ask me, “Where’s F. Scott Fitzgerald’s house?” Well, as you know, the truth is there isn’t just one house – but frequently, this one is the one people are looking for. 599 Summit Avenue is one of two Fitzgerald residences that have a plaque commemorating the author – the other is at his birthplace, a few blocks north of here, at 481 Laurel Avenue.

I’ve already mentioned how frequently the Fitzgeralds moved when Scott was a boy – particularly when they returned to St. Paul from Buffalo, New York, in 1908, when young Scott was 12 years old. Those moves were all in apartments and houses in the blocks just north of where we’re standing at the moment. Now fast forward about ten years, and Fitzgerald is a struggling author, trying to make his way in New York City. His fiancée, Zelda, has broken off their engagement, partially because she doesn’t think he can support them with his writing. So F. Scott Fitzgerald, sad and dejected, returned to St. Paul to make one last attempt to revise his manuscript and get it published. By this point his parents were living here, at 599 Summit, and although they didn’t approve of his choice of profession, they allowed him to live on the third floor while trying to finish his book. That fall, Scribner’s accepted the manuscript, and in the spring of 1920, Scott and Zelda were married and This Side of Paradise was published, launching F. Scott Fitzgerald to instant fame.

In case you’re wondering about the house, it’s not quite an apartment and it’s not quite a house – it’s actually a row house, with each three-storey having its own door.

Our next stop is a bit different once again – this time, it’s a garden. I’ll see you up the street at the garden gates just past 533 Summit.

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AIA Guide to St. Paul's Summit Avenue and Hill District