Friday, March 06, 2009

The Friday Five

Last night Heather and I attended a lecture-presentation at the James J. Hill house entitled:

The Diaries of Mary T. Hill.

It was a great time. So here are five things I learned yesterday.

1. Mary Hill had a great sense of humor and a deep love for her family. Though not overly wordy, she had some pithy comments about people's behavior that made me laugh.

2. Teenagers are not clamoring to attend lectures put on by the Minnesota Historical Society. Heather was the only teenager there. One couple looked to be late twenties or early thirties, and then I was probably the next youngest person. There were about 50-60 people in all.

3. Having free run of the first floor of the Hill house without a tour guide allows you the time to study details you've not seen before. I've toured the Hill House several times, but this time Heather and I strolled through the vast rooms taking note of the details of carving and woodwork, light fixtures and more that just can't be fully appreciated when you're part of a tour group. Heather particularly liked the brass dragon wall sconces, especially since they lit a the pair of sconces that flank the dining room doors. It was cool to see the flames and get a real feel for what gaslit rooms are like.

4. Passing on your passion to you offspring is such a great feeling. When Heather turned to me and said, "Imaging living here. Imagine what it must've been like to eat your meals in that dining room with the gilded ceiling and the hand carved chairs. Imagine what it must've been like to sleep in one of those bedrooms." I felt such a sense of kinship and happiness with my girl because those are the kinds of things I imagine when I'm in a place like the Hill House. To have her wonder and appreciate history in the same way is a gratifying feeling.

5. Always check the price. No, not for the lecture. That was free to society members. I purchased a biography last night entitled "James J. Hill & The Opening of the Northwest" by Albro Martin. I've coveted this book for a long time, but it was wicked spendy. Earlier in the afternoon Heather and I visited the Minnesota Historical Society Museum and Library and did a little research in the library (noodling a new novel idea) and visited the bookstore because I can't pass up a bookstore, esp. one full of history books. I checked the Martin biography again to see if it had come down in price, but it was still $60 Bucks. Grrr...I wanted it but couldn't justify paying that much for it. Then at the Hill House, they had a book table in the reception room, and the Martin biography was there. And lo and behold, the price was $22.50. (The MHS Museum and the Hill House are about three blocks apart in downtown St. Paul, and both are operated by the MHS.) With my 10% member discount, I got a sweet deal on this book. No clue as to why the prices were so different, but I am one happy girl!


  1. Sounds like a wonderful time. I would have had to endure eye rolling, deep sighs and are we done yet?

  2. I agree with CJ, sounds like you had a great time. And I am more likely to get the are we done yet look too. Can we borrow your daughter for field trips?

  3. Anonymous9:43 PM

    On the other hand, Mom had to put up with "Can we PLEASE stay for the tour of the house after the lecture?" (Add Bambi/puppy eyes) We didn't stay because it was late, and we had been there before and will be back again.


  4. Sounds like you had a great time! And a book to boot--doesn't get any better than that =) Anxious to hear the new idea brewing in your head.

  5. So who did the Hill house belong to?

  6. The Hill house belonged to the James J. Hill family, the man who opened the northwest to railroads. He owned the Great Northern Railroad, linking the Twin Cities to Seattle and the Pacific Northwest.