Based out of Stillwater, “The Birthplace of Minnesota”, the Washington County Historical Society collects, preserves, and disseminates the history of Washington County and its communities.  Join us on our journey through the Gateway to Minnesota History!

Bringing History Back Together: Stillwater Historic House Tour Sunday October 6th Noon to 5pm –

The Washington County Historical Society is putting history back together with this year’s Historic House Tour. The Stillwater Historic Homes Tour on Sunday October 7th from Noon to 5pm.

This tour will have ten very distinct homes that span more than a half a century.

William Sauntry, a lumber baron who worked with the likes of Weyerhaeuser & James J. Hill, built a beautiful mansion on North 4th Street in the 1880s. In 1902, Sauntry added a Moorish Style Recreation Hall that was connected to the main house. After Sauntry’s death, the two were separated and only on occasion have the two homes been open to the public at the same time – this year’s house tour is one of those times.

Sauntry’s Recreation Hall took its theme from the elaborate Alhambra palace in Granada, Spain, in all of its fantastical and painstaking Moorish detail along with elements of the Craftsman tradition. The high-ceiling ballroom was decorated with a ceiling mural, carved plaster, gilded medallions, and crystal chandeliers, along with 14-foot, 250-pound mirrors. Stencils of Arabic inscriptions are also found on the walls. Upon its initial opening, the local paper called it a “Fairyland.”

Other homes on the tour include the 1853 Warden’s House Museum; the Historic Courthouse on Zion’s Hill which started construction in 1867 and the Main Street Hideaway, constructed by the McLean family in the 1870s and is now a “Vacation Rental By Owner,” or VRBO.

The Glock House at 821 W. Pine Street was built in 1899. Restoration work began in 2017 and has returned the home to its turn of the century charm. Three houses owned by the Just for Me spa on Owen’s Street, dating from the 1860s through the 1880s will showcase their unique historic features.

The home that houses the Artreach St. Croix at 224 N. Fourth Street was originally St. Michael’s Church Rectory and constructed in 1858. It was moved in 1894 to its current location and remodeled. In 2008 it was acquired by Artreach St. Croix and is currently an art center will also be on this years house tour.

“These houses show the transformation of Stillwater, from a rough and tumble lumber town to a gentler, river city,” according to Brent Peterson, Executive Director of the Washington County Historical Society. “The differences really put you in the timeline of the history of Stillwater and show the beauty of each era.”

Angie Noyes, the House Tour Coordinator, said “I cannot believe how willing and enthusiastic the home owners are to open their homes for this tour. It really shows the dedication to the preservation of history of Stillwater.”

Each house on the tour has a local business sponsor, showing again how the business community rises up to help the area’s unique heritage. The funds raised will go to the preservation and dissemination of local and regional history.

Tickets are available the day of the tour at the Warden’s House Museum, 602 North Main Street, and are $25 each. For more information contact the Historical Society at 651-439-5956 

Museums are Open for the Tour Season

The Warden’s House Museum in Stillwater and The Hay Lake School Museum & Erickson Log House are now open. 

Museums & Research Center Hours

Nancy & Robert Goodman Research Center
602 Main Street N., Stillwater
Open year-round
Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays 12:00-5:00 PM, Wednesdays 3:00-6:00 PM
Please call ahead or email to confirm research center availability.
(651) 439-5956 |

Warden’s House Museum
602 Main Street N., Stillwater
May – October: Thursdays – Sundays
Tours on the hour at 1:00 PM, 2:00 PM, 3:00 PM, & 4:00 PM.

Hay Lake School and Johannes Erickson Log Home
14020 195th St N, Marine on St Croix
May, September, October: Saturdays & Sundays 1:00-4:00 PM
June-August: Fridays – Sundays 1:00-4:00 PM

Eder School House
4442 Hadley Ave N, Oakdale, MN
June – August: Sundays 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM

WCHS Latest Publications

Company K in the Border War

In 1916, Company K of the Stillwater National Guard was dispatched to the Mexican Border to defend against attacks from the famous Mexican rebel, Poncho Villa. Through letters and photographs from the WCHS collection, “Company K in the Border War” details the in-glamorous reality these Stillwater men faced while stationed in Texas.

This book recently won a Minnesota History Award for publications!!

Thru the Mill

Originally published in 1915, “Thru the Mill” was written by inmate number “4342”, George Bartlett, who served ten months in the old Stillwater Prison. This book is his account of life behind the stone walls of Minnesota’s most infamous prison.

 Want to help support your local history? Here’s your chance!

The Washington County Historical Society is the only county historical society in Minnesota that receives no annual assistance from their county.

We are 100% reliant on your generosity.

Thank you for helping us save our shared stories and history!