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Life and Legacy of Sinclair Lewis Celebrated in St. Cloud [AUDIO]

Lewis family member Patti Lewis, historian Alex Ames, Southside resident Mary Mathews. (PHOTO: Jim Maurice, WJON News)


ST. CLOUD – The life and legacy of Sinclair Lewis are being celebrated in St. Cloud this week.

Hear the story from WJON’s Jim Maurice.

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The author of the world famous book “Mainstreet” grew-up in Sauk Centre, but thanks to his brother Claude, he also has close ties to St. Cloud.  And, while Sinclair was busy writing best selling novels, Dr. Claude Lewis was quietly establishing himself as one of the most important residents of St. Cloud at the time.  Claude was instrumental in helping the sisters build St. Cloud Hospital, he was it’s first Chief of Staff, and he brought the first x-ray machine to town.  In 1926 he built what was the most expensive home in St. Cloud at the time at 724 Fourth Avenue South – across from Barden Park.

Lewis house was a very gracious place where there were lots of parties and events among the St. Cloud elite in the early 20th century.  But what made this house unique was that a Nobel Prize winning celebrity would often stop by.

Historian Alex Ames says Claude lived in the home until he died in 1957, and it became the closest place to a “home” that Sinclair Lewis had.

Sinclair Lewis was a very wealthy man, very famous.  He associated with the greatest artists of his generation.  He could have established a residence anywhere in the world, but for some reason he was always drawn to Minnesota, and specifically to the south side of St. Cloud.

The Lewis House is now owned by St. Cloud State University and is used as office space.  It’s one of the featured homes this Saturday  on the 14th Annual Southside Historic Home Tour.  Mary Mathews is one of the tour organizers.

The windows are beautiful.  The woodwork is lovely. It’s not a mansion, it was a living residence for a family.

In addition to the home tour, the “Main Street to Eighth Street” celebration includes a Sinclair Lewis Film Festival with film adaptations of three of the Nobel Prize-winning Lewis’ books on Thursday at the Paramount Theater, and A discussion with members of the Lewis family will be on Friday at the Stearns History Museum.


Audio on Demand:

Here’s our full interview with Alex Ames and Mary Mathews

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Lewis Family in their home (St. Cloud State University Archives)

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