Placeography:Featured place/2011-10

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Amherst H. Wilder residence, 226 Summit Avenue, Saint Paul (1887-1959)

Wilder was one of Saint Paul's pioneer businessmen. He came to the city in 1859 from his home in Lewis, New York, and over time accumulated a fortune in the development of the Northwest. A bold and versatile entrepreneur, Wilder's diversified interests included trading, freight and stage coach transportation, railroading, lumbering, banking, insurance, real estate and merchandising. Shortly after arriving in Saint Paul, Wilder met Fanny Spencer, who had come to the city from Utica, New York, to visit her brother, a clerk of the United States District Court. Amherst and Fanny married in1861. Their daughter, Cornelia Day, was born in 1868. It is believed that it was Cornelia's lifelong volunteer work that influenced the Wilders to leave their estate to help the less fortunate. In his book, Lost Twin Cities, Larry Millett describes the Wilder Mansion which was designed by architects William Wilcox and Clarence Johnson in 1887. "It was red brick and Lake Superior Sandstone...the house was a Tudor Revival with strong Richardsonian Romanesque elements...the houses' Summit Avenue front presented a broken arrangement of oriels, bays, & gables behind a Gothic arched porte cochere. Unlike many houses on the avenue, the Wilder mansion was carefully oriented to exploit views from the bluff, with an open porch at the rear wrapped around a three story circular tower." The Amherst H. Wilder Mansion is one of many late great demolished homes for the wealthy featured in Larry Millett's just published book, Once There Were Castles. Once There Were Castles.

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