Sitting high on a hill, this red brick and sandstone Queen Anne house at 827 Mound Street can easily be seen by cars zipping along the nearby freeway. It was constructed in 1891 by Peter and Marie Giesen. Peter Giesen came to St. Paul from Germany in 1855 and developed a bookbinding business that became the largest of its kind in the country. His main client was West Publishing Company, the local producer of law books. Peter founded the Mozart Club of St. Paul, was on the board of the German Club of St. Paul and served four terms on the St. Paul School Board.
Marie was as industrious as her husband and in 1872 launched Giesen’s Costumes, which grew into one of the largest such companies in the nation. Giesen’s outfitted many of Saint Paul’s socialites when they attended the popular masquerade balls and costume parties. The business stayed in the family and lasted until 1960.
Peter and Marie moved to Summit Avenue in 1907 and Eric V. Hauser, a prosperous contractor and civic leader became the owner. He was born in Saint Paul and went into the railroad business, becoming president of Grant Smith & Company. Hauser ventured west and built lines through mountains and also became well-known for creating and operating “eating cars” for the railroads. During World War One his company turned to shipbuilding and later gave the profits to various war charities.
Hauser died in 1929 while living out West. After the family sold the Mound Street mansion in 1944, it ended up as a boarding house from the 1940’s through the 1970’s. Unlike most of the other huge homes, it has been returned to a singe family use and is locally known as the Greg and Nancy Ward residence.
The Giesen-Hauser House is the only intact surviving work of Albert Zschocke. He was a talented local architect who died at the young age of 33 a year after the house had been built. As one architectural historian put it, Zschocke was “a meteor who flashed across the local architectural scene in the 1880’s.” His creation was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.