The Carriage House at the
807 Harriet Steet South
STILLWATER, MN 55082
License No. 2017-10
Start your dreams in the place where James Mulvey planted his…
The Englishman’s Carriage House Inn was named after the builder of this fascinating structure and its Victorian main house, James A. Mulvey. James Mulvey came to the United States from Cranbrook, in Kent County, England. His father was a cobbler, and he had two brothers. The house their family rented still stands on the main street of this charming English village. Though his family stayed in England, James left home for the States at the tender age of 13. Mulvey came to this country in the decade of the 1850’s when the population of Minnesota would go from 7,000 non-native people to 150,000 in population.
Transportation in middle America in those days would have been mostly by river way. Overland traffic would have been extremely difficult, so Mulvey joined a host of other immigrants in establishing a new life in Minnesota. Stillwater was strategically placed at the end of several river ways and became the center of the Minnesota territory, and the Ellis Island of the Upper Midwest.
Mulvey was caught up in the Civil War mania that would grip the country. He joined the Minnesota infantry on the side of the Union forces and was first sent off to a Dakota/Sioux uprising in South Dakota, and later on to the Civil War fronts in Georgia. He was later decorated and recognized as a military hero, and his name is inscribed on the Civil War Infantryman Bronze, which is on the courthouse lawn just off of Third Street on your way downtown. Legends say that Mulvey brought black walnuts back with him from the war and planted them on his newly-acquired property in the Holcomb's Addition of Stillwater. There are still several black walnut trees on the property and perhaps the oldest of the trees fell to earth with a crash in 1999. There are two of the largest white pines in Stillwater and a ginkgo tree that loses all of its leaves on the same night in the Fall - and a huge, massive oak tree on the east border of the property which has the original iron fence of Mr. Mulvey's property growing right through the center of it. As you gaze on these ancient standards of Mullvey’s dreams, there may be dreams of your own that come to mind, ready to plant and nurture.
Mulvey would soon pursue the second great industry in Stillwater history (after immigration), the lumber industry. North of Stillwater was the largest White Pine stand the world has ever seen. Mulvey's business would become one of the seven most successful lumber brokering businesses in the Stillwater area.
Mulvey began building his house in the 1870s, completing it in 1878. It was on a property of something over an acre and a quarter - five city lots - in the Holcomb's Addition. Holcomb was a landowner and the Holcomb's Addition was a new family-oriented community on the extremities of the city of Stillwater. Notice the unique photo of the Carrage House and family members gathered after church on a Sunday to take humorous photos. You must remember that at this time, lumber brought in hundreds of single men who worked in the woods and came to town to patronize the boarding houses or the brothels or saloons, of which there were legion in Stillwater. Mulvey’s property was a distant retreat with its original road, covered with ground limestone surface with wooden boardwalks on both sides.
A picture on this page displays one of Mr. Mulvey’s several superb carriages. A permanent home for his carriages and horses was built shortly after the construction of the main house. A faux stone structure, the Carriage House would be built as a reminder of Mulvey’s English heritage. Its hipped roof and gables supported a first level for the horses (now poolside), a second level for storing the carriages (the front door was its entrance) and an upper level for hay and tack (now the Art Deco and Bordeaux Suites with balconies). Though this fascinating building was used originally as a sophisticated barn, it was sensitively renovated to become a livable residence that now welcomes the guests to the Mulvey house.
In 1991, the Italianate Main House was opened as an historic inn. Two years later rooms were made available in the Carriage House. Today those rooms, the luxury suites, remain available for guest lodging as the Art Deco and Bordeaux. Although Stillwater is full of wonderful history, few Inns offer this park like setting in the middle of the historic city.