Shop Local with the Empire Builder
When they come to the Hill, most people go into and are swept away by—rightly so—the grand Reading Room. But immediately beyond the lobby is a smaller, but still significant room. Bearing James J. Hill’s nickname, the Empire Builder Room was designed to be Hill’s office. We presume Hill had a direct hand in its design; featuring quarter-sewn oak walls and intricate wood carving, it mirrors elements of his historic Summit Avenue mansion. Hill also wanted to make sure his office was well accommodated: there’s a small restroom (no longer in use), and a shallow coat closet (very much still in use).
Unfortunately, Hill passed away before the reference library was open to the public. The office was used by staff for much of our history, and today houses the Hill Center gift store. At the Hill Store, you can dive deep into Hill’s history and legacy with one of the books we have for sale, such as James J. Hill: Empire Builder of the Northwest by Michael P. Malone, St. Paul’s Historic Summit Avenue by Ernest R. Sandeen, and The Dutiful Son: Louis W. Hill by local historians Biloine W. Young and Eileen R. McCormack.
The Hill Store is also your one-stop-shop to share your love of entrepreneurs. Support our Idea Academy youth programming with one of our “Ideate & Discover & Build & Launch” tees, or take the Hill home with you with one of our mugs, tumblers, or ornaments by St. Paul-based Deneen Pottery.
When you shop local, you support your community’s entrepreneurs and put more money directly into the local economy. According to Twin Cities MetroIBA, “research shows that, on average, every dollar spent at a local, independent business generates at least three times more direct economic benefit than a dollar spent at absentee-owned formula businesses.” By doing some of your holiday shopping at the Hill this year—for a loved one, colleague, or yourself!—you are not just aiding Twin Cities businesses and residents, but also directly supporting our mission of connecting business, entrepreneurs, and community.
Written by Ann Mayhew, Reference & Support Specialist, at the James J. Hill Center. If you have more questions about the reference library our our historic collection at the James J. Hill Center please contact 651-265-5500 or [email protected].