Sibley House Association
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member MNSearchers
N 44° 53.276 W 093° 09.984
15T E 486859 N 4970514
THE SITHE SIBLEY HOUSE ASSOCIATION (SHA) IS A NON-PROFIT incorporation of the Minnesota Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of Minnesota’s first public history site.
Waymark Code: WM36TK
Location: Minnesota, United States
Date Posted: 02/19/2008
Published By:Groundspeak Charter Member BruceS
Views: 36

The Sibley House has been called the "Mount Vernon of Minnesota." From 1835 to 1862 it was the residence of Henry H. Sibley - fur trader, member of the constitutional convention, delegate to Congress, civic leader, military leader during the US- Dakota Conflict of 1862, and first governor of the state of Minnesota. When it was constructed the house served as a fur trade center and locus of hospitality on the frontier; later, as the region developed, it became the governor's mansion. Completed in 1837, the structure was built of limestone quarried from the adjacent bluffs. The house had two stories and a cellar. Initially all the cooking was done in the basement, later this was carried out in an addition to the house and in a separate summer kitchen. In 1843, Sibley married Sarah Jane Steele and the trading house and 'hunting lodge' was converted to a fashionable family home. About this time a new addition was constructed at the rear to provide a kitchen, dining room and two additional bedrooms. In the early 1850s a small, single storey wing was added to the east side of the house for an office. The house became the center of family life and nine children were born to the Sibleys there.

Sibley directed the fur trade of an area stretching from the Mississippi to the Missouri Rivers. Annually, hundreds of voyageurs, Native Americans, and traders converged upon Mendota, bringing furs by canoe and oxcart. Employees in stone warehouses that once stood on the riverbank packed pelts for shipment to the east. A year after Sibley's arrival the total value of the furs collected by what was then called the "Sioux Outfit" was nearly $60,000.

In 1862 he built a new home and moved his family to St. Paul and a few years later sold the Mendota house to the Catholic church. From 1867 to 1878 the Sisters of St. Joseph conducted a parochial school there. By the time of Sibley's death in 1891, it had become a virtual ruin. To that "rustic" advantage it served as a summer art school during the 1890s. After that it served as a warehouse for the railroad and finally as a habitat for the homeless.

The site was rescued by the St. Paul chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). The DAR Sibley House Association restored the house and opened it to the public in June, 1910. In June, 1996 the site was transferred to the State of Minnesota and is now a site in the Minnesota Historical Society's historic sites network.
Marker Type:: City

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