If you go east on Margaret Street and cross Greenbrier, you will come to a red brick pillar in a small park with a plaque— a small remnant of the old Hamm Mansion. The historic home was located on the northern section of the area and the rest was its elegantly landscaped grounds.
The brick Queen Anne house at 671 Greenbrier was built in 1886 for Theodore and Louise Hamm by their children, while the couple made an extended trip to their homeland in Herbolzheim, Germany. Designed by German-American architect Augustus Gauger, it had twenty rooms filled with ornate fixtures and eight fireplaces.
Family lore says that at first Louise didn’t like the new house and would have preferred to remain in their living quarters in the workers’ dormitory. Many elegant parties thrown there, often with Chinese lanterns hung throughout the yard. Sometimes tame deer and peacocks mingled with the guests.
Theodore lived there until his death in 1903 and son William and his family moved in. After he died in 1931, no other Hamm family members resided there and it was a boarding house for many years. In April 1954, while it was unoccupied, it was burned down by a teenage arsonist who said he set the fire “out of boredom.”
Local residents wanted the site to become a city park and tamed up with the St. Paul Garden club. Their leader, philanthropist Olivia Dodge, spearheaded the project. Upper Swede Hollow Park was officially dedicated in October, 1976. The red brick column you saw upon entering was a gatepost for the mansion found on the ground in nearby bushes. It was saved and moved to its current location where the plaque tells some of the story of the family’s story.