What is today North Oaks began as a vision belonging to James J. Hill, “The Empire Builder,” who was born in Ontario, Canada and arrived in St. Paul in 1856.
In the summer of 1883, Hill purchased 3,000 acres of land in the country 10 miles north of St. Paul, where he established a large working farm.
The Hill family presence at North Oaks extended after the deaths of James in 1916 and Mary in 1921. The farm and its stability were a priority to Mary Hill, who left its ownership and operation in the hands of her son, Louis Hill, Sr. The younger Hill built a Swiss chalet-style home on the east shore of Pleasant Lake.
Planning for the next generation of the Hill Farm at North Oaks began in the 1940s, and a new concept evolved. By 1950, the North Oaks Company and the North Oaks Home Owners’ Association were in place, and lots for a community of country estates began to sell.
The Village of North Oaks, with its unique governmental system, was incorporated in 1956.
Sara Markoe Hanson is the executive director of the White Bear Lake Area Historical Society. She will be sharing history thoughts monthly.