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Minnesota Historical Society Podcast Tours

February 27, 2009

001.02 - 420 Summit Ave: University Club

Filed under: Summit Avenue — admin @ 8:40 am

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Just in front of you, you can see the University Club, situated at a prime location on the corner of Ramsey Hill and Summit Avenue, with a great view out the back windows over the river valley. This building was designed by Reed and Stem in 1913 – the same architecture firm that designed the St. Paul Hotel and who co-designed Grand Central Terminal in New York City. Check out the front: it has a center entrance with two large wings to either side. That style is Tudor Revival. There are three elements of this style you can see. First, the steep roof line. Second, the half-timbered exteriors, the section of white walls accented with brown vertical lines, which would have originally been wood in Tudor England. Third, the gables, the line of the roof that looks like an upside-down V in the center and on the sides of the building.

This men’s club was founded by many of the second-generation sons on Summit Avenue. The story for many families on Summit was that the initial wealth to buy a home on the Avenue was earned through hard work, frequently by men without a college or even a high school degree. Anxious for their sons to have a good education, many were sent off to boarding schools and universities out east, where University Clubs were all the rage. Returning to St. Paul, they decided to build their own University Club – to which, ironically, their fathers would not have been allowed membership, not possessing university degrees. Today, people without university degrees can also become members through a special application, and women are allowed to be members, too!

Take a look next door. That’s where we’re headed. 432 Summit Ave, also known as the Livingston Griggs House. Press on to track 3!

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