North Oaks… unique community that was James J Hill’s farm and country estate

Perhaps one of the most unique suburban communities in the Twin Cities is North Oaks, about 15 minutes north of St. Paul. Both a farm and country estate on land purchased by railroad magnate James J. Hill in 1883, it was a working farm that gained a reputation for breeding exceptional cattle. It was also where his family would spend summers in their grand home on the shores of Pleasant Lake, and the source of a daily cart which delivered vegetables, fruit, milk, butter, eggs and fresh flowers to their St. Paul mansion. The site of the Hill estate on the southwest corner of Pleasant Lake is now an open-air museum with only 3 of the original 40 buildings remaining.

North oaks - map

North Oaks Farm was owned by the family until the 1950s, when they decided to divide the land into parcels for a carefully planned community with an emphasis on preserving its natural beauty. It is said that Hill’s grandson helped survey most of the early lots himself and would sometimes alter the path of the a road to save a single tree…no grid-like street patterns here.

When you enter North Oaks you  may be surprised that instead of a welcome sign, you are greeted by a no trespassing sign. This is perhaps the most unique feature of North Oaks… you are to enter the community by invitation only. The city owns no property and does not provide city sewer and water. It is a privately owned community with all the roads owned by the residents whose lots extend into the middle of the road. Each property has its own private well and septic system.

North oaks - photos

The natural beauty remains, with exceptionally large wooded lots, significant permanent conservation easements, and miles of natural trails groomed year round by the North Oaks Homeowners Association for hiking, biking, running or skiing. In addition to lakes for swimming, canoeing, sailing and kayaking, North Oaks also has a golf course, tennis courts and recreational areas for activities such as hockey and skating, baseball and soccer/rugby.

Sharlene Hensrud, RE/MAX


Written By

I love what I do! Highly insightful, analytical and creative, there is nothing I love more than helping you find the right solution for your real estate transition. My mission is to serve my clients with honesty and integrity, exceeding their expectations in service and support… and to help others by donating a portion of every transaction to Habitat for Humanity.

Related Posts


đź–¨ Print Article At Rooms With Style, our team knows that using artwork to highlight the features of a space is integral to the home staging process. Artwork has the...

Weekly real estate market update 5/24/24… more listings coming soon

đź–¨ Print Article When new listings dip as they have this week it can be a concern whether the supply of homes for sale will drop as well, especially when...

Subscribe to Our Newsletter for Market Updates & Mid-Century Modern Listings

Our weekly HomesMSP Update includes current local market information and a curated list of mid-century modern properties for sale, plus posts from an inspector, a lender, a stager, info about neighborhoods, life in the Twin Cities… even recipes!


Blog Categories


Sharon and John Hensrud

About Us

The HomesMSP Team is committed to meeting you where you are and listening… really listening to understand you so we can use our extensive knowledge of the market and local neighborhoods to give you personalized service.