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Great Northern Lofts

After nearly 40 years of neglect, the Great Northern is a magnificent refurbishment of the 1888 James J. Hill Office Building in St. Paul’s historic Lowertown district.


Three years of construction and meticulous restoration lead to the successful sale of 53 fully restored condominium homes. Incredible features from the original structure remain, such as spectacular 11-foot barrel vaulted ceilings, floor-to-ceiling fireplaces and arched windows with city views. Modern finishes including tiled bathrooms, step-up showers, glass cabinetry and oversized granite islands complete the massive living spaces to create truly unique homes.


Just the Facts:

  • 53 Fully restored condominium homes
  • Historic Renovation
  • General Partners: The Cornerstone Group & Sherman Rutzick & Assoc.
  • Construction Financing: US Bank
  • Architect: Cermak Rhoades Architects
  • Contractor: Freirichs Construction
  • Total Development Cost: $30 Million
  • Construction Completion: 2003
  • Site Area: 0.77 Acres
  • Density: 68 Units/Acre including parking structure


The Great Northern Building was originally built in 1887 for James J. Hill as the headquarters for his Great Northern Railway by James Brodie who also designed the James J. Hill house on Summit Avenue.  A key feature of the seven story building is the impressive entrance on Kellogg which enters the interior courtyard of the building, which Hill himself (at the time Hill was St. Paul’s most recognizable figure) used to enter his office.  The building boasts a marble entry, barrel vaulted brick ceilings, and arch top windows. After Hills’ death in 1916, Great Northern Railway moved its headquarters to the Railway and Bank Building, another historic piece of the Lowertown neighborhood. According to a Star Tribune article written at the beginning of the renovation, the “Paint is peeling off like the bark on birch trees. The windows are broken and covered in plastic. And the hardwood floors are molasses brown after years of dust and dirt piling up on them.”


August 1, 2003