Watson & Sarah Davidson

The History of The Davidson

Davidson mansion on Summit Avenue
Photo Credit mnhs.org

Built by Watson and Sarah Davidson

Watson and Sarah Davidson built this house in 1915 at a cost of $40,000. It was designed by architect Thomas Holyoke who adapted and reformed the idea of a Tudor manor house.

Watson Davidson

Watson Davidson grew up on a farm in Ohio. After his father died, he learned business managing a truck farm with his mother.

He had a fine head for the business world and took the lead in expanding the family’s real estate portfolio. They purchased the Transportation Building in Chicago, farm land in Manitoba and forests in Oregon. He spent much of his time traveling to manage the development of the properties.

Watson Davidson in the garden
Photo Credit mnhs.org

Sarah Davidson

Sarah was the daughter of the Commodore William Fuson Davidson, who made a fortune as a young man operating more than 50 steamboats on the Upper Mississippi from 1845-1887. Saint Paul became one of the busiest landings in the country.

As railroads began taking his business, the Commodore bought land in downtown Saint Paul and built a number of office buildings, including one of the first passenger elevators in the Twin Cities in 1876.

Watson and Sarah Had Five Children

  • William managed operations for the Twin Cities properties along with his brother and became a published playwright
  • Cynthia died at 15 in the flu epidemic
  • Sally graduated from Vassar
  • Watson Jr. or Wat, managed operations for the Twin Cities properties along with his brother
  • Bob married Kitty Ober
Abstract painting

The College of Visual Arts

The College of Visual Arts was in this building from 1961–2013.


Commonwealth Companies

Commonwealth Companies bought the property and renovated it, opening the new hotel October 2019.

See Sister Properties
The Davidson exterior