Summit Hill: Majestic homes, fun apartments and the air of F Scott Fitzgerald

Summit Avenue, which runs from the Mississippi River to the West and downtown on the East, is home to some of the oldest and most majestic homes in St. Paul. It is the old stomping ground of author F. Scott Fitzgerald. (In fact you can check out one of F Scott’s old homes at 599 Summit Avenue.) Many of the original mansions remain single family homes and many have been turned into upscale apartments and condos. There’s something for all tastes and household sizes.

summit_ave_-_woman_with_parasol_tree_trunkYou can learn a little bit about the history from the Summit Hill Association

The first residential development of the Summit Hill area took place in the 1850’s and 1860’s when many wealthy and prominent St. Paul families moved from the central river front area. Leading this exodus was James C. Burbank, who in 1862 built one of Summit Avenue’s first mansions at 432 Summit. Burbank, who made his fortune in the riverboat and stage business, caused a sensation by incorporating such amazingly modern features as steam heating, hot and cold water and gas lighting in his new home.

In the 1880’s and 1890’s the Crocus Hill and Grand Hill neighborhoods, two residential sections of Summit Hill, became fashionable locations for the wealthy families of St. Paul. At this time, many earlier Summit Avenue constructions were either renovated or razed to make way for more fashionable, or what was thought to be architecturally significant, houses. Early railroad and lumber barons built on Summit Avenue and in the adjacent areas with families such as the Burbanks and Weyerhaeusers leading the social life of the Hill.

The area is very walkable and enjoys entertainment and shopping from two directions – Selby Avenue and Grand Avenue. Selby is home to historic restaurants such as WA Frost and Moscow on the Hill. The areas surrounding WA Frost is seeing a uptick in activity with new restuarants such as Cellar Salt and Red Cow. The Avenue is the lead up to the St Paul Cathedral. It’s gorgeous and on a Sunday morning you can hear the church bells as if they’re been rining for decase, which they actually have.

Grand Avenue has a newer vibe. The Business Assocaition is strong and coordinates many fun activities each year – such as Grand Old Day, an annual street festival.

There are a number of schools in the areas – both public and private and everything from preschool to university. There are churches of several denominations.

Here are some of the stats from Wilder Foundation’s Community Data Works

Housing in 2000

  • Percentage of family households – 45%
  • Median household income (2012 dollars) – $69,160
  • Educational attainment of Bachelor’s degree of higher  – 68%
  • Houses built before 1939 – 80%
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