At the height of the gilded age, and at the height of their personal wealth, Anne and Frank Semple built a mansion to impress and entertain their friends. Unfortunately, they only lived long enough to enjoy the home together for three years. In that short time, there must have been some grand parties in their third-floor ballroom, which rivaled any in the Twin Cities.
Frank Semple was born in 1851 in Cincinnati, Ohio. He married Anne Culbertson in 1883, and they moved to Minneapolis the next year. That same year, Frank bought an interest in Janney, Brooks and Company, a hardware business. With later management changes, the company eventually became known as Janney, Semple, Hill & Co. It grew with the westward railroad expansion and made the Semples very wealthy.
Anne and Frank turned to the father-son architecture firm of Franklin and Louis Long to design their new home in Minneapolis. Louis had joined his father’s partnership with Frederick Kees; when Kees left the firm, it became known as Long and Long. Long and Kees designed some of Minneapolis’s most prominent buildings, including the Masonic Temple (1889, now Hennepin Center for the Arts) and Minneapolis City Hall (1906). The Renaissance Revival Semple mansion was completed in 1901.
Frank Semple died in 1904 and Anne died in 1910. The next owners, Calvin Goodrich, president of the Twin City Rapid Transit Company, and his wife, Cora, bought the home from Anne Semple's son. Calvin died in the home in 1915, and Cora sold the house in 1918 to Laura Day, who lived there the longest, 17 years, until her death in 1935.
Since then, the house has been home to a labor union, a charitable foundation, a bank, and a community outreach program. Its current owners have returned the house to its originally intended purposes: to impress and entertain. They use the Semple Mansion as an event venue. Weddings are performed in the front hall and living room with receptions in the 3,000-square-foot third-floor ballroom. The ballroom retains elegant original details, including built-in banquettes, Ionic columns, and an arched, hand-painted ceiling. A basement vault, installed when the house was used as a bank, is now a wine cellar. The second floor is rented as office space.