A while back Emily, myself and a group of friends toured the famed James J. Hill House here in St. Paul.1 (Emily was and is on a kick to be tourists in our own town this summer.) Mr. Hill, the railroad magnate, constructed a gargantuan 36,000-square-foot residence, still the state’s largest.
Now this is just bad-ass. Dude doesn’t want a plain ol’ phonograph scratching out the hits of the early 1900s. He wants a real, live, honest-to-goodness **pipe organ** in his house.2
You wouldn’t believe how incredibly carefully this man was working. Plus, it looked like a perfectly good staircase railing to me. But with tiny, tiny brush strokes, we was restoring some grain of wood to its former glory.
Just your run-of-the-mill library, with a bank vault.
During the tour they keep the house lit as it would have been in the early 1900s, so the shadows and dark corners really are this dramatic coming down from the grand staircase.
It only took about four railroad cars’ full of coal to heat the house each year. A small price to pay for comfort when you’re a tycoon.