Joseph Lybrandt Forepaugh Mansion (formerly Forepaugh’s Restaurant)

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A forbidden love didn’t end well, resulting in deaths.

The spirits of Joseph and Molly have found happy endings in their afterlives.


The Joseph Lybrandt Forepaugh Mansion is a three story, palace-like Victorian and Italianate mansion that was built at a cost of 10,000 dollars, to showcase Joseph Forepaugh’s personal wealth.

Its 8,500 sq feet of interior floor plans have both the historical beauty of its original 1870 structure, and the added features and renovations that make it a great place to establish a commercial venture. It is listed on the National Register of Historical Places. (Inventory Form No. 73000993)
NRHP describes it as “a two story frame bracketed Italianate structure, though it started out as a 1870 Victorian-style. home. The rear addition is described as being unusual. It is a two and one-half story Mansard section with differing wall heights from the original front section.”

Historic mansions can become historical house museums or can be renovated to serve the tastes and desires of their many owners. Much of the Forepaugh interior has been restored by the Taher family. The common rooms with fifteen foot ceilings and fireplaces were on the first floor, including the parlor, the living room, the dining room, the study, and the library. A kitchen and bathroom plus other needed rooms were added on. There is a custom-built wine cellar.

The second floor had the family’s bedrooms and sitting area. Bathrooms with plumbing were probably added. The third floor had the ballroom, banquet area, and smaller rooms for the live-in staff. There is probably a kitchen and a refrigerator built somewhere on the third floor for the convenience of the event staff. Nice touches include the small covered porches, lovely bay windows overlooking the park and the beautifully landscaped grounds and gardens.

It has been used as a commercial establishment, the Forepaugh’s upscale French Restaurant. A commercial kitchen was added, and the verandah was reinforced so it could safely hold tables and chairs for guests, providing beautiful rooftop seating overlooking the St. Paul skyline. The mansion’s reception and banquet space was located in the third floor ballroom.

After the interior was restored to its original splendor, it was an awesome experience to have a meal inside in one of the rooms. It was as if you were a guest of Mr. Forepaugh. The experience of having a small wedding, reception or banquet there must have been special too.

Forepaugh’s Restaurant closed in 2019 because the chef died, and business had been slow. It has sat vacant with all of its antique furniture still in the rooms. In 2022, the price tag was set at $1,500,000. In 2023, it was taken off the real estate market, perhaps because a buyer was found, someone wanted to lease it, or because the owners have thought of another venture to start themselves. It is a beautiful structure, and I’m confident that it will be full of life once more, since zoning allows a variety of businesses: office, restaurant, reception hall, and retail.



Entrepreneur Joseph Lybrandt Forepaugh made his fortune in the dry-goods business and was Senior Partner in the J.L. Forepaugh, Justice and Company, “that eventually became the St. Paul department store chain, Field-Schlick. Forepaugh also was the founder and partner in Forepaugh and Tarbox, a major boot and shoe manufacturer to the mid and far-west.” (NRHP)

By 1870, Joseph had money to spend, and bought five lots of land. In the center of it, he built an extravagant Victorian-Italianate mansion with a basement, three floors, and beautifully landscaped grounds and gardens for his family. His wife Mary and their two daughters moved into a residence filled with the highest quality, finely crafted room furnishings.

Along with the fine living, Joseph hired servants as well. But, he made the mistake of having an affair with a young maid, Molly. When Mary, Joseph’s wife, caught them in bed, she asked Joseph to end it and he did. In 1885, when Molly realized she was pregnant, she hung herself in a third floor room by tying the rope to a chandelier and throwing herself out the window. This suicide ruined life for all in this mansion.

In 1886, Joseph Lybrandt Forepaugh sold his mansion to Civil War veteran General John Henry Hammond, while Joseph and his family went to live in Europe. Joseph also sought to mend the problems in his marriage caused by the affair, and reestablish ties with his wife. They came back to the states in 1889 and built another palace-like mansion at 302 Summit Avenue, which had a glorious view of the first mansion and of the city as well.

However, in 1892, Joseph Lybrandt had sunk into a deep depression. Though he said he was worried about his business, which was doing fine, Joseph really was still mourning Molly’s death. He shot himself in the park, killing himself.

Many people have owned this mansion over the years, most of whom took the responsibility of the its maintenance very seriously. However, during the 1950s, like many other historic homes, the mansion was subdivided into low-income apartments, which didn’t bring in much money to maintain the structure, and it was neglected. (National Register of Historic Places Inventory Form No. 73000993)

By the 1970s, the mansion was in need of some tender loving care, and it was put back onto the market “as is.” In 1975, the Bruce Taher family bought it, and began the long process of renovating and restoring the mansion to its former glory.

The mansion needed to earn its keep, so it became a French restaurant in 1976, much to the benefit of the people of St. Paul, who got to enjoy its ambiance in the interior rooms and the glorious view seen while dining on the outside eating areas, all while enjoying French entrees.

In 2019, the master chef who created all the great recipes for five years died from the flu, deeply affecting not only the owners but the fifty employees. The Taher family decided to close Forepaugh’s Restaurant and try to sell or lease it to another entrepreneur.

After four years of being for sale, the owners decided to take it off the market, with perhaps another idea on how to put this historic building back to work.



When couples who are torn apart by the circumstances of life, they can sometimes find each other as spirits in their afterlives.

Double Eagle Mesilla, NM (Though Armando and the maid Inez suffered the death sentence for their forbidden love, they found each other right after they died, and are spending their afterlives together in the home where they met).

Chapel of the Cross, MS (A young couple’s wedding plans were abruptly blown up when the would-be groom was killed in a duel. Their spirits sit together in a tree in the original graveyard, together again).

Saint Francis Inn, FL (A young soldier fell in love with a black house slave. When his father caught them making love, he forbade his son to see her again. The son made love with her once again and then killed himself. In their afterlives, they are together again).

The Joseph Lybrandt Forepaugh Mansion, MN (While their love affair broke their hearts and caused their suicides, the spirits of Molly and Joseph have found each other and are spending their afterlives together in the mansion).


When spirits have regrets about killing themselves, they try to continue the best they can in their afterlives.

Currier Hall, IA (Three young women who shared the same room up in the attic, all unknowingly fell in love with the same young man, William, who had led them along saying that he deeply loved each of them, hoping to get some action from one or all of the women. When they discovered his true character, they killed themselves. They all regretted it, and gave themselves jobs as spectral councilors for fighting roommates while they try to reenter their student lives).

Edith Wharton Estate: The Mount, MA (When one of Edith’s maids discovered she was pregnant, she hung herself near the butler’s pantry located in The Mount. Her spirit regrets her rash action, but continues to do the duties of housekeeping she was hired for).

The Joseph Lybrandt Forepaugh Mansion, MN (The spirits of Molly and Joseph regret their suicides, but are happy being together and continue in this world the best they can, Molly as a servant and hostess, and Joseph as the master of the house).



The entities of Molly and Joseph Lybrandt Forepaugh have found that having their afterlives together is a wonderful gift, and that they can be themselves once more.

The spirit of Joseph Lybrandt Forepaugh

His spirit is always dressed formally in an 1890s suit and attire as he becomes once more the master and host.

He was really pleased with the completed renovation/restoration work done on his mansion.

His Personal Appearances

His spirit appears without fear in solid form, looking very much alive.

He is very friendly, and has been seen by customers and staff, as he walks through the dining rooms, in formal dress, looking pleased, with the attitude that he owns the place.

He likes all the social events as well, which remind him of his life here.

Perhaps his daughters were married in the mansion.

The spirit of Molly

Molly has been seen and heard near the area where she killed herself.

Her spirit goes about her afterlife, trying to do what she did while alive.

She would like to be employed as a server.

During a reception, where all the waitresses were dressed in 19th century dresses, a woman similarly dressed, but unlike the other employees, was seen gliding down the hall by staff before she melted into the wall.

Her Unseen Presence

Employees opening up the restaurant heard a distinct tromping on the third floor (the traditional living quarters of servants).

The police were called, and they brought a K-9 dog to investigate.

The dog refused at first to go up to the third floor, but finally did after some persuasive coaxing. The tromping stopped and no one living was found.

Uninvited Guests

Molly is a sociable ghost. She likes to sometimes attend weddings and receptions, with the spirit of Joseph.

The restaurant has a wedding picture which captured her image as well.

Basement Area

In the basement, lights turn on and off by themselves.

The living feel cold chills and hear strange noises.

Perhaps the basement is the old love nest for Molly and Joseph.


Forepaugh Mansion has been well known for being haunted, especially during its years as Forepaugh’s Restaurant. The two spirits are very happy, and create a positive aura, making it the perfect place for people. Molly and Joseph are both very friendly and had taken an interest in the restaurant and its activities, appearing in front of many people.



A big yes indeed!

The spirits of Joseph and Molly are spending their afterlives together in this restored and renovated mansion. They don’t mind sharing with the living. Now that the mansion is temporarily void of activity, they have the run of the whole property. The property may become an event center for social gatherings and business affairs, which would be interesting for them. They are the spectral host and hostess, the perfect couple to have residing!



Forepaugh’s Victorian manor, which is now being used as a French restaurant, can be found on South Exchange Street and Walnut, just east of Irvine Park, in a neighborhood which traditionally has been the area where St. Paul’s wealthy established their mansions, near historic downtown Saint Paul.




Forepaughs Haunted Restaurant.

Haunted Forepaugh, St Paul, MN

Destination: Forepaugh’s

20 – Forepaugh Restaurant – St. Paul, MN

Forepaugh’s Restaurant





    By NANCY NGO | Pioneer Press
    PUBLISHED: March 12, 2019 at 3:44 p.m. | UPDATED: March 13, 2019 at 9:24 a.m.
    Historical and beautifully situated property overlooking Irvine Park and within walking distance to Xcel Energy Center, in the heart of the St. Paul CBD

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