Monday, April 21, 2014

On This Date in Minnesota History: April 21

April 21, 1954 – “Overlooking the Swede Hollow neighborhood from the top of the bluff, the Theodore Hamm house at 671 Greenbrier was the crown of the East Side (and the Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood ), standing like a castle - a beacon of inspiration (and possibilities) for those that lived below in the Hollow. The house, built in 1886 at the cost of $20,000 (it was a gift from their children), offered among its ornate fixtures twenty rooms and eight fireplaces. It was the home to many elegant parties thrown by Theodore Hamm and his family. Parties that included a band brought in from the city, Chinese lanterns spread throughout the yard, and tame deer and peacocks mingling with the guests as some of the entertaining highlights.”

Hamm House After Fire on This Date

“Theodore Hamm died of heart failure on July 31, 1903 and the house was taken over by his son William (Sr.) and wife Marie. After the death of the last Hamm resident in 1933 the house sat vacant, eventually to become the Robbins Rest Hospital – a nursing home. On [this date] a 14 yr old boy, out of boredom, set a fire on the first floor and two on the second floor of once again recently vacated, but still storied mansion (it had been vacant for only two weeks). Upon starting the building ablaze he called the fire department and the police. Shortly thereafter, and after 67 years of grandeur, the home was deemed unsafe and demolished.

Today the site on which the house once stood is a scenic overlook offering a view into downtown (and more).”

                                                    Hamm Mansion Site
German immigrants Theodore and Luisgaritis (Louise) Hamm arrived in St. Paul in 1856 and opened a beer garden and boarding house near downtown, until losing them in a friend’s ill-fated gold rush venture. In the winter of 1865 the young family took possession of the small Keller’s brewery and Mill along Phalem Creek “in the wilderness at the edge of St. Paul,” and built the brewery into the successful Theodore Hamm Brewing Company. The family lived in a house near the brewery until 1886 when the Hamm children had a mansion built on this site as a surprise for their parents, who were then visiting Europe. The brick “Rhine-style” structure was designed by architect A. F. Gauger and cost $20,000 to build. After the death of his parents, William Hamm, Sr., and his family occupied the home.

Many pioneer families moved to newer districts as St. Paul grew but William Sr. and Marie Scheffer Hamm lived out their lives on Dayton’s Bluff. With the passing of the second generation of Hamms, the mansion was used as a rest home. On April 21, 1954 the by then vacant neighborhood landmark burned and was demolished. This brick monument once marked the southeast corner of the Hamm property.

Dedicated by the St. Paul Garden Club
And the St. Paul Division of Parks and Recreation

Photos taken by Pamela J. Erickson. Released into the public domain April 21, 2014,
as long as acknowledgement included.

No comments:

Post a Comment