Alexander Ramsey House
265 S. Exchange St., St. Paul, MN. 651-296-8760. http://www.mnhs.org/places/sites/arh/
$7 adults, $4 ages 6-17, 5 and under free. Free parking. Not stroller accessible. Restrooms available in gift shop.
Free for members of Minnesota Historical Society.
My four-year-old had been begging to go to the Alexander Ramsey House all summer. We’d been to other Minnesota historic sites, but for some reason, the Alexander Ramsey House had caught his fancy and he really really really wanted to go there. So, finally, in September, my husband was able to take a day off and we headed to St. Paul for the big tour.
The Alexander Ramsey House is a large Victorian-era home, and the tour is led by a white-gloved guide. You’re not supposed to touch anything, not even the woodwork. While I’ve been told that some guides are more kid-friendly than others, ours wasn’t particularly helpful in livening up the discussion. Nonetheless, we made it through the hour-long tour without any major mishaps. The kids did enjoy the series of bells throughout the house, and cookies were offered in the kitchen (some did have peanuts but the “kitchen help” was aware of this, for fellow peanut-allergy families). My most nervous moments were when we were on the third level and the railing on the staircase wasn’t particularly high; I tried to keep a hand on all the kids while we were up there lest someone go over the edge. (To a less height-frightened person, this would probably not be a problem.)
We did learn a lot about Alexander Ramsey, including the fact that he did not have a middle name. (Yes, my four-year-old asked about that.) The tour began with a video in the gift-shop building adjacent to the main house, which gave us some background information, and other questions were answered both by the guide and by the gift shop staff.
All in all, I probably wouldn’t take this tour with four very young children again. When they are a little older, it might be more interesting, but it was just a little nerve-wracking to keep them from touching anything at their ages. Still, we did succeed in making our little boy’s summer dream come true, and because we’re members of the historical society, it didn’t cost us any more than the trip to get there.