University of St. Thomas Campus News
- Next Stop for Frank Gehry’s Winton Guest House: New York’s Hudson River Valley
While the University of St. Thomas doesn’t know who bought its Frank Gehry-designed Winton Guest House, they do know roughly where it is going and that the new owners have pledged to preserve it.
The house was sold at an online, three-minute auction Tuesday for $750,000. An additional $155,000 was added to the price for what is called the “buyer’s premium,” bringing the total to $905,000.
Dr. Victoria Young, professor of modern architectural history and chair of Art History Department at St. Thomas, said she was informed by Wright, the Chicago-based auction house, that the home’s new owners wish to remain anonymous.
“But they did say they are moving it to private property in the Hudson River Valley of New York, which would be roughly 1,200 miles from its current location in Owatonna, Minnesota,” she said. “The best news is that the owners have pledged to restore and preserve the home. That is wonderful to hear.”
When auctioneer Richard Wright declared the home was sold at $750,000, he called it “a real bargain for an architectural masterpiece.”
The Hudson River Valley will be the third address for the guest house. Mike and Penny Winton commissioned world-renowned architect Frank Gehry in 1982 to design a guest house for their Lake Minnetonka property. When it was finished in 1987, the 2,300-square-foot structure won House and Garden magazine’s design award of the year and made Time magazine’s “Best of 87” design honor roll.
When real estate developer Kirt Woodhouse purchased the Winton property in 2002, he subdivided the land and donated the Winton Guest House to St. Thomas. It took several years, but the home, which is composed of five separate geometrically shaped rooms, was divided into sections and moved 110 miles to the university’s Daniel C. Gainey Conference Center just south of Owatonna.
When St. Thomas sold the conference center last summer to Meridian Behavioral Health Services, the university retained ownership of the Winton Guest House and was given until August 2016 to move it to a new location. Those bidding on the home knew that it had to be moved.
Young said it’s not yet known if the new owners will try to move the home this year, or wait until 2016. Judging from the effort involved with moving the home from Minnetonka to Owatonna, a 1,200-mile move to the Hudson River will be challenging. An 11-minute video of the home’s first move can be viewed here.
News of the auction was carried nationally and even internationally. Here’s a list of some of the publications that ran articles about the sale: Italy’s Architectural Digest, Owatonna People’s Press, Vanity Fair, Financial Times of London, Architecture Minnesota, Wall Street Journal, Architectural Digest, Architectural Record and the Minneapolis-based Star Tribune. The Wright auction house featured considerable information about the Winton Guest House.
- St. Thomas Explores Two-Year College Option
The University of St. Thomas, as part of the flexible pathways priority in its strategic plan, will explore whether to open a two-year Catholic college as a way to increase access and affordability and ultimately lead to four-year degrees for Minneapolis and St. Paul area high school students.
The St. Thomas Board of Trustees earlier this month expressed enthusiastic support for the exploration, which will begin this summer. A two-year Catholic college opened by a four-year Catholic university would be the second in the United States; Loyola University Chicago will open Arrupe College this fall.
“The concept of a two-year college aligns with St. Thomas’ mission as a Catholic university,” President Julie Sullivan said. “We are committed to expanding access to a personalized and holistic learning experience, reducing student debt and contributing to eliminating the college education gap in the Twin Cities.
“Our flexible pathways strategic priority seeks to respond to fluctuations in demographics and economic challenges by identifying new and alternative ways for students to enroll at St. Thomas, complete a St. Thomas education and succeed in the job market,” she said. “A two-year college is an intriguing concept to provide a debt-free, two-year pathway to a four-year degree.”
Sullivan will ask a group of St. Thomas faculty and staff to explore the two-year college concept. The group will work as part of the Flexible Pathways Task Force, a 15-member group co-chaired by Dr. Kendra Garrett, professor in the School of Social Work, and Dr. Michael Jordan, associate vice president for undergraduate studies and academic advisement.
Objectives of a two-year college could include:
- To provide an opportunity for a small cohort of motivated students who want to pursue a college education but have limited resources to initially enroll at St. Thomas or other four-year institutions.
- To provide strong instruction, academic counseling, personal interaction and a support system in preparing students to earn associate’s degrees and subsequently enter St. Thomas or other four-year institutions to complete bachelor’s degrees.
- To increase the number of low-income, first-generation, minority and immigrant students attending college, and improve their retention and graduation rates.
One model that St. Thomas will explore is Arrupe College, which Loyola University Chicago will open this fall with an initial cohort of 100 students. The two-year Arrupe program intends to provide maximum student aid through Pell and state grants, small scholarships and no loans; enroll students with ACT scores of 17-22 and high school GPAs of 2.5; and concentrate on a standard core curriculum for four-year institutions. Students will be in class 40 weeks a year and seminars will be offered on pertinent topics during the two-week breaks between the five eight-week sessions. Ultimately, Arrupe expects to enroll a total of 400 first- and second-year students.
St. Thomas initially will explore housing the two-year college on its Minneapolis campus because of its public transportation access and available daytime space. Specific timetables have not been set to make a decision on whether to open a two-year college or when one would open if the decision were made to move forward.