Haunted Halloween

Given the time of year, we decided to further research a local, haunted location.

The beautiful sandstone Griggs Mansion, is without a doubt considered the most haunted mansion in St. Paul. In 1883, a wealthy grocery businessman, Chauncey Griggs, built this lovely mansion. He only lived in it four years, before moving to the West coast. 
After Griggs moved out, the Griggs Mansion served many purposes including an art school, private residence and apartments. 
Griggs Mansion has 24 rooms and 9 fireplaces.  It was a common occurrence for its occupants to leave shortly after moving in.

The Griggs mansion was designed by Clarence Johnston, an American Architect, who at the time was only 23 years old.  Johnston was a well known Architect in the Twin Cities and was also responsible for other well known Minnesota landmarks including; The Glensheen mansion,  and MN State Fair grandstand
Today, Griggs mansion has reclaimed it’s original intent as a single family residence.

Most of the supernatural activity seems to be centered around the 4th floor, many other parts of the house have been known to be haunted. Footsteps have been heard in empty staircases, doors open and close by themselves, rasping coughs come from behind closed doors on empty rooms and heavy drapes swing for no reason. A college student staying in a basement apartment woke up to see a floating head of a child above him. Six or seven spirits/ghosts have made their existence known by various means throughout the years. The mansion’s spiritual occupants are a young maid ( who is believed to have hung herself in 1915 in the house), a gardener, a child, a thin man in a black suit, a teenager, and a Civil War General. 


Sources: 1 / 2

The James J. Hill House- History

If you haven’t yet gotten the opportunity to check out the James J. Hill house on Summit Ave. in St. Paul, I highly recommend that you do so. I’ve made a few visits over the past few years and am always impressed, even beyond the stunning architectural details, pipe organ and 22 fireplaces there is so much to take in.

Pipe Organ
  • Completed in 1891
  • 36,000 sq ft (largest residence in Minnesota)
  • U.S. National Historic Landmark
  • Designed by Peabody, Stearns and Furber
  • Architectural style is Richardsonian Romanesque
  • James J. Hill supervised the design and construction very closely
  • Hybrid lighting system of both gas and electric
  • Hand tooled leather walls
    Upper Skylight
Grand Staircase
Have you been? What’s your favorite part?
Sources: 1 / 2 / 3

The Witch Hat Garage

Purcell is currently working on a project with a very unique style of a roof, a witch’s hat. Although not limited to a specific type of architecture, this style of roof is typically seen as a turret  on a Queen Anne style home. 
Here are some images of our witch’s roof: 

This style of roof can be seen all over the world.  Seen here locally in the Twin Cities the Prospect Park Water Tower was built in 1913 and is one of the most iconic examples of a “witch hat roof”.

Prospect Park Water Tower                             Purcell’s Witch Hat Roof       

The labor involved on this style of roof is considerably more time consuming vs a standard pitched roof, thus this type of roof is rarely built anymore. The roofing material can be asphalt, cedar, slate, clay tile, and/or standing seam metal.  Usually the roof is capped off with a finial made of copper or similar metal:

Copper Capped Witch Hat Roof

 Have you ever seen any examples of this roof style?

Images: 1 / 23

In Celebrating our Independence…

We have compiled a list of traditional home styles that can be found in various parts of the world, but are also found in the Minneapolis- St. Paul area. What else speaks traditions like a cozy front porch and an American Flag?

The American Craftsman

  • Origins date back the the late 19th century in Boston, MA
  • Features include: Low pitched roof lines, deep overhanging eaves, exposed rafters, front porch beneath extension of main roof, tapered or square columns, and handcrafted stone or wood-work
  • Notable architects include:  David Owen Dryden, Frank Llyod Wright, Greene and Greene, and Herberg Hapgood  
The Queen Anne 
  • Origins date back to the United Kingdom while  the American Queen Anne dates to the mid 19th century.
  • Features include: sash windows, local brick and stone, large wrap around porches, decorative trim, elaborate architectural elements, and  patterned shingles
  • Notable Architects: Sidney Stratton
The Tudor Revival
  • Features include: half timbering, herringbone brickwork, mullioned windows, high chimneys, dormer windows

The Dutch Colonial 
  • American Origins date back to early 17th century in Pennsylvania
  • Features include: gambrel roofs, flaring eaves, double hung windows, shutters, and a central double dutch door
The Georgian
  • American origins date back to the late 18th century
  • Features include: Symmetrical facade, double hung windows, paneled door with pilaster, and a pediment crown
The Second Empire
  • American origins date back to mid 19th century
  • Features include: Mansard rood with dormers set into it, patterned shingles and deep eaves with decorative brackets.

Sources: 1234/ 5 / 6

Uncovering History

We recently completed this gardening cottage and garage addition :

Front Before                                            After

Rear Before                                             After

We are delighted the client has chose to move along with more renovations!  While tearing off the original  siding, circa 1922 we found bits and pieces of the original cedar shingles. Interested to know a background we did a little research and here is what we found.

The original siding  was manufactured by Puget Sound Mill and Timber Company in Port Angeles, WA.

Puget Sound Mill and Timber Company Locomotive No. 7

Puget Sound Mill and Timber company was founded in 1914. In 1926, Puget Sound Mill and Timber company purchased a locomotive on the Pacific Railway which linked Port Angeles to St. Paul and other thriving mid-western cities. The company, just like any other had highs and lows:

  • The timber mill was located at Twin, just outside of Port Angeles, WA
  • During World War I, the government assigned 27,000 men to the “spruce” division of Puget Sound Mill and Timber. 
  • ” The Big Wind of 21″ destroyed 8 million board feet of sellable lumber growing in the North Olympic Peninsula
  • With the stock market crash in 1929, Twin’s fate was sealed and the timber industry was hit hard. 
  • In the early 1930’s Twin’s railway connecting it to the outside world was tore up, this was the end of Puget Sound Mill and Timber Company.

Puget Sound Mill and Timber Company Lumber Mill
The mill was later a pulp mill, purchased by Georgia- Pacific in 1963 and remained open until 2001.

We are replacing the current 90 year old shingles with a high quality siding which will last the owners many more years while keeping the home looking true to its 1922 style. Replacing it with premium grade, sawed and sanded all four sides, and pre-primed all four sides to prevent moisture from penetrating through the back side, over time, moisture from the back side will lead to the surface paint failure.  We will share more photos when the project is complete. 

Sources & Images: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4