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The Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch
  • Mansions of Sleepy Eye

  • There are roughly 30 historical mansions in Sleepy Eye, if one were to count them. Mind you, there are many old homes here in Sleepy Eye that were built well into the 1800s that are still in existence today.
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  • There are roughly 30 historical mansions in Sleepy Eye, if one were to count them. Mind you, there are many old homes here in Sleepy Eye that were built well into the 1800s that are still in existence today. Within these homes are many stories as well. Many of these homes have pasts that reveal the history of Sleepy Eye of another lifetime. Settlers forming prairie land by Lake Sleepy Eye into an energetic little town that still thrives today formed our town in 1872. It was the people of our young town that made Sleepy Eye a promising town.
     
    As we take a look at many of our historical homes, you may find some interest in them. You might be in luck; several of the homes that I will mention in this first part, are for sale. If anyone is interested in purchasing a historical home and keeping up with its character you may want to check with our local realtors about these homes.
     
    One of our first homes to take a look at is known as the C. D. Griffith house. This is located at 318 Current St.
     
    Around 1893, this house was built by Clarence D. Griffith. Griffith, along with William W. Smith (known from the W. W. Smith house), organized the Merchants Bank in 1882. This bank was the forerunner of the First National Bank. The original Merchants Bank sat on the lot that is now the parking lot of the First Security Bank. The Griffith house was also the first hospital in Sleepy Eye. Known as the “Park View,” it was primarily a maternity hospital. It is also said to be the highest point of land in the city. This house is at present a Bed and Breakfast for those who enjoy a little time away.
     
    Our second mansion to be mentioned is the W. W. Smith house. Located at 101 Linden St. SW. Around 1900, this house was constructed by the Steinke-Seidl Lumber Co. for William Watkins Smith, who along with Clarence D. Griffith, started the Merchants Bank in 1882. This bank was later converted into the First National Bank.
     
    Besides his banking interests in Sleepy Eye, Smith was also associated with banks in Evan, Elbow Lake, Echo and Roseau. The Smith house was nominated to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1979. It has been described by the Minnesota Historical Society as the best-preserved “large residence” in Sleepy Eye, representative of the towns’ commercial and industrial activity at the turn of the century.
     
    Another mansion one might be interested in is, what is known as the Fred B. James house. Located on 111 Summit SW. This house was built in 1892, on half a square, six lots. This mansion was the home of Dr. Fred B. James, dentist. Dr. James was what is known as a visiting dentist. He traveled from town to town practicing his profession.
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    The last mansion I would like to mention is known as the William Gieseke house. Located at 109 3rd Ave NE. This house was built in 1883, home to William Gieseke, one of the founders of the Sleepy Eye Flour Mill. The house has been moved from its original site on the corner of 3rd and Main to the back of that lot.

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