More Renovation News

Here are some more pictures from the renovation.


Here’s the house with the porch stripped down to its essentials – no siding or skirting – preparatory to its being taken down all together.


Up close the rough boards that make up the core of the porch smell like a historic log cabin; old wood and time.


These stones were part of the infrastructure of the original porch and will be reused to clad the supporting piers for the new porch.

IMG_4811 IMG_4826 IMG_4848

They’re patching up the holes and filling in the gaps in the old siding left by various incursions over time, including insulation, rot, and removal.

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Color is also starting to come into play. Due to the scraping, you can see old layers of paint on siding – buff – and trim – white.


And here’s someone’s opinion on either the new paint color or the entire process.

Published in: on September 15, 2014 at 1:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Renovation Update and Domestic Archaeology

So the renovation is going very well. The work crew is replacing boards and patching holes, getting everything ready for power washing and painting. We’ve also chosen paint colors, which is often fraught. So many opinions! Thanks to hard work and good planning, we’re still on schedule, and business at the B&B is proceeding as usual, which makes everyone happy.

Here are a couple of things I’ve gleaned from seeing the house stripped of it’s newest layer.

2014-08-17 13.15.00-1

First, the fact that the porch has clapboard siding tells me that it was replaced before the house was resided with the newer version. I had always had it in my head that they were part of the same process, but that’s obviously not the case.


Second, it was something of a shoddy job. Which, granted, we already knew, given that everything is off-center on that porch:  the porch to the house, the porch’s peak to the base, the stairs, etc. Not to mention that the porch’s shape is absolutely wrong for the house. But the metal corner caps in the picture, used when someone doesn’t take the time to miter the corners properly, confirms it.

This also offers more evidence for our theories about the porch. Porches take a fair amount of maintenance given their construction and exposure; we’ve had to make extensive repairs on ours over the years. We figure that the original porch disintegrated to the point that it had to be removed during the boarding house years, and lack of funds was why they built what they did.


On the other hand, there were some choices that added a degree of hominess to the porch. The ceiling has always been stained beadboard; in recent years a nice contrast to all the ugly siding. The porch’s builders’ use of beadboard extended to the interior walls of the porch. A nice detail, and a nice contrast to the clapboard, making it seem more like an interior. All that was covered by ugly siding eventually.


And finally, ghosts from the past. There were at least four mailboxes hanging on the house in it’s heyday as a boarding house. I’m not sure how many are covered by the plywood barrier (that’s what you see on the right in the picture), but that would give us an idea of the size of the operation and the number of people living in the house at the time the newer siding went up. Knowing that and the layout of the house, we can make educated attempts at answers to other questions. What was considered a decent size living space in a boarding house? How was the house divided up? Where did people live?

Very exciting!

Published in: on August 26, 2014 at 4:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Exterior Renovation Proceeds on Schedule

First, let me reassure the worried that the B&B is open for business as usual, and that our renovations only affect the outside of the building. Nothing is being done inside; all the work’s already been done there, as you can see from the photos at our website.

488 from the outside, C. 2003So, this is what we started with. Unattractive broad siding that was put on sometime between the 1930s and 1971, and covered up most of the detail of the house. There’s also a porch that was replaced, badly, sometime in the same time period. Essentially a box with a few Victorian-ish features. Unremarkable and kind of odd looking.

488 Holly during exterior renovation, Aug 18, 2014Here’s where we are after all the ugly siding has been removed. The original clapboards are in surprisingly good shape, considering their age.

However, there’s still some work to do before painting can commence.

Detail of 488 Holly exterior renovation, Aug 18, 2014There are missing boards to be replaced.

Detail of 488 Holly exterior renovation, Aug 18, 2014There are holes to be patched, both from blowing in insulation (the round holes) and wear and tear.

488 Holly exterior renovation, Aug 18, 2014We also need to recreate some of the molding that was removed in favor of the ugly siding. It stuck out too far for the siding to go over it, and was inconveniently placed for it to go around. The dark stripes at the top of the pilaster at the corner of the house show where molding is missing, for instance.

Once everything is ship-shape and tight, we power wash and then on to the painting. It’s very exciting!

We’ve already made enormous progress towards our endpoint. You can really start to see it.

488 Holly in c.1930s

Published in: on August 19, 2014 at 4:38 am  Leave a Comment  
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Open During Remodeling

Cathedral Hill B&B is proud to announce that we’re bringing the outside of our historic house back to its 1896 glory, complete with new porch and new paint. We’re very excited to have the outside of our B&B match its jewel box interior. The transformation should be completed before fall. 

Holly Ave, north side, c. 1900, tinted. From MN Historical Society Postman and children on Holly Ave, c.1890. From the MN Historical Society.

These are pictures of the north side of Holly Avenue around 1900. Our house is hidden in the trees on the left. As you can see, this has always been a well-to-do and quiet residential neighborhood.

The house was originally built by a banker and occupied by him and his family until sometime in the 1930’s. We speculate that the Depression ended the house’s tenure as a single-family dwelling.

488 Holly in c.1930s This picture of the house was taken in the late 1930’s or early 1940’s when it was a combination boarding (with meals)/rooming (without meals) house, as were many of the large Victorian houses in the neighborhood. We think this phase lasted from 1936-1971, through two owners, and was when the house was re-sided in a more modern fashion, and the original porch was replaced with a much smaller model. Both decisions were probably influenced by financial considerations.

The house changed hands again 1971, purchased this time by a commune, which called the building the Holly House. They did construction, worked at co-ops in the area, and did community work.

We bought the house in 1978 for our large family, and returned it to its origins as a single-family dwelling. It saw 7 children grow and leave, and the building of a number of thriving businesses. In 2003 it was reimagined into Cathedral Hill Bed & Breakfast.

488 Holly from the outside, C. 2003

Published in: on August 17, 2014 at 6:34 pm  Comments (2)  
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Why did we name our suite ‘Iminijaska’?

Iminijaska Suite bedroom from right Iminijaska Suite study - bookcase view

The area around St. Paul has been occupied for millennia; long before any European ever came to this continent. Delving back into explorer’s diaries, like those of Zebulon Pike (1805-7) and Stephen H. Long (1823), can give us a glimpse of life in those times, keeping in mind that that view is through foreign eyes.

The Iminijaska Suite’s name comes from those diaries and records. Iminijaska was the Dakota name for White Rock, located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers, probably where Fort Snelling is today. This was an ancient Dakota trading location.

There were various other names peppered around the St. Paul vicinity before it officially took on the name gifted by a Catholic missionary, many of which are still extant:

***Little Canada, named for the voyageurs and other French Canadian settlers, and currently a suburb north of St. Paul.

***Mendota is Dakota for “meeting of the waters.” Mendota and Mendota Heights villages are sited across the Mississippi from Fort Snelling.

***Fountain Cave, about 3 miles west of downtown, is often named as the birthplace of the city. That’s where Pig’s Eye Parrant, a French-Canadian fur trader, with vision in only one eye, set up his liquor trade, just outside the jurisdiction of Fort Snelling. He lost his claim in 1844, and moved on. Later the cave was a popular tourist attraction. It has since been walled up with the building of Shepard Road in the 1960’s,

***Pig’s Eye – As the first white settler in the area that became St. Paul, and being somewhat famous/infamous for his trade, the area was more or less named after Parrant. For a while, you could send and receive mail using Pig’s Eye as the address.

***Rev. Lucian Galtier, a Catholic missionary, was horrified (as were many people after him) that Pig’s Eye was not only the first citizen of the city, but also the source of its name. His Catholic chapel was dedicated Nov 1, 1841, and soon after the city was officially named St. Paul, after the chapel.


Sources and Further Reading:

The Expeditions of Zublon Montgomery Pike, P. 74-5, in the extensive footnotes.

Fountain Cave

Little Canada’s History{D701FD64-B65C-419C-A278-0865316155E8}&DE={A67E50F0-036D-4F3B-A86E-3F530F966237}

Mendota:  Walking in the Footsteps of History

Metis 1818-1820

Part of Metis History of Red River 1500-1899

Narrative of an expedition to the source of St. Peter’s river, Lake Winnepeek, Lake of the Woods, &c., performed in the year 1823, … under the command of Stephen H. Long

Pig’s Eye Parrant and Pig’s Eye, the city

Sioux Research – Dakota, Lakota, Nakota

Published in: on July 29, 2014 at 4:23 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Breakfast on the Patio? You bet!

Spring has sprung and it’s time to enjoy it at Cathedral Hill B&B! Let us treat you to breakfast outside, complete with freshly brewed coffee, fresh fruit, and a home cooked meal to start your day. These 70 degree sunshiny days won’t stick around forever, so we need to take advantage while we can! Visit our website for more information and call (651) 998-9882 to book your stay. We look forward to meeting you!


B&B patio

Published in: on May 23, 2014 at 4:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Spring has sprung!

Or is trying at least. It hit 50 degrees today for the first time in nearly four months and the snow is melting. Soon we’ll be offering breakfast on the patio again amongst the flowers.

Spring means walking and enjoying the neighborhood. We recommend a leisurely stroll down Summit Avenue with its many historic homes. Here’s a walking tour from the Minnesota Historical Society that you could pull up on your phone. It includes informational videos.


Published in: on March 10, 2014 at 9:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

Breakfast on the Patio

At Cathedral Hill, we spend a lot of time thinking about how to make our guests comfortable.  Delicious food and clean, comfortable rooms are a given.  We try to go above and beyond the basics.  We put the patio in the “above and beyond” category – assuming the weather permits (and it usually does in the summer!) we would love to serve your breakfast on the patio.

This is the whimsical fountain, framed by lots and lots of annuals in baskets and in planters:

This is a view from the west end of the backyard looking east.  The patio and the tables are at the far end of the picture:

We can’t wait to see you and share our beautiful backyard with you.  Give us a call and we’ll schedule your stay!

Published in: on June 10, 2010 at 3:15 am  Leave a Comment  

Another Neighborhood Gem

What a beautiful week it was here in St. Paul, Minnesota!  Warm and sunny most of the week, then a little rain today – all the better to water our lawn and gorgeous patio flowers.

Here at Cathedral Hill we love recommending local businesses, especially for dining!  The Cheeky Monkey Deli is a warm, welcoming casual spot for a great lunch or dinner bite (don’t forget – you’re having breakfast with us!).  We hear the meatloaf sandwich is divine.

Give us a call and check our availability.  We would love to welcome you to St. Paul and help you find your way around the city.  We’ll set you up with a great breakfast and a wonderful place to stay, then set you loose in historic Cathedral Hill!  We’ll say it again – we can’t wait to see you!

Published in: on May 21, 2010 at 11:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

May We Recommend…

Cathedral Hill Bed and Breakfast is within walking distance of some wonderful restaurants. This is the first in a series of posts describing where you can stroll to find a delightful bite to eat the next time you stay with us.

Start big, is our motto, and so this review starts with a great restaurant that we recommend all the time to our guests.  W.A. Frost and Company has it all – wonderful food, great ambience, an outstanding wine list, and the best patio dining, hands down, in the area. W.A. Frost is five blocks from Cathedral Hill, so come stay with us, and don’t forget to make your patio reservation for a memorable dinner.

We’ll say it again – we can’t wait to see you!

Published in: on May 14, 2010 at 1:04 am  Leave a Comment  

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