Thanks to Jameson’s Irish Bar for their support.
Built around 1880, the Hurley House at 1010 Oakdale in West St. Paul is one of the few historic homes from the city’s founders still left. The Wentworth House, farther down Oakdale, gets all the attention for being on the National Register of Historic Places, but the Hurley House has plenty of charm and history of its own.
The Hurley Family
Patrick and Elizabeth Hurley left Ireland and came to the U.S. along with their seven children in the mid 1800s. Brothers John and Joseph Hurley set out ahead of the family to what would become West St. Paul in 1854. They were some of the earliest settlers and spent the winter in a sod hut on the shore of Lake Thompson. John was apparently 16 at the time. The next spring, they staked a claim on 80 acres of land in their father’s name, being too young to do it themselves.
John married Mary O’Brien in 1863 and the couple raised nine children in West St. Paul. John worked as a truck farmer, planted orchards, and raised cows and chickens. John served as overseer of roads, township treasurer, and served on City Council. John and Mary lived in a clapboard house on stilts east of Bernard and Oakdale before eventually building their stately home at 1010 Oakdale.
Joseph married Emma Sweeney and later fought in the Civil War. He served as township constable and justice of the peace, and also served on City Council. Joseph donated land for the original City Hall. Joseph’s sons James A. Hurley served on City Council and as Mayor and John F. Hurley served on City Council.
The Hurley family continued to have an influence on West St. Paul. John’s grandson Eugene A. Hurley formed a construction company that built a number of the houses in the area, as well as the Signal Hills shopping center in the 1950s.
Of course, West St. Paul’s Hurley Street is named after the family.
While land at 1010 Oakdale was originally claimed in 1855, the current house wasn’t built until later. Exactly when isn’t clear. Some reports indicate John and Mary moved in to the house in 1863, but other research simply says it was “built by 1880.” Either way, it predates the Wentworth House (and the current iteration of West St. Paul).
The house’s foundation is made of limestone quarried at the former pits at George and Humboldt in St. Paul. The brick was made by hand at a brickyard once located on Lily Lake near Butler and Sperl Streets.
The house used to be known as the “cannon house” thanks to cannons and a covered wagon displayed by former owner Terry Hurley (he took those artifacts with him when he retired to a family farm in Wisconsin).
Four generations of Hurleys lived in the house until it was sold in 2017. Now it’s up for sale again. The three-bedroom, two-bathroom house is just over 3,000 square feet, with an attached four-car garage, deck, and gazebo. It sits on a half acre. The current asking price is $350,000.
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