An opportunity to buy a building designed by Frank Gehry–whether you like him or horf him–doesn’t come around very often. If you’ve been looking to invest in Gehry’s particular brand of starchitecture, here’s your opportunity: the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota plans to auction off Frank Gehry’s Winton Guest House to the highest bidder. There’s just one catch. You can’t keep it there.
Originally designed by Gehry in 1987 for Minnesota lumber magnate Mike Winton as a guest house to complement a Philip Johnson-designed home on his family’s rolling Lake Minnetonka property, the 2,300-square-foot Winton Guest House was purchased by real estate developer Kirk Woodhouse in 2001. Nine years later, Woodhouse decided to donate the Guest House to the University of St. Thomas; it was then cut up into eight separate pieces and moved 110 miles to the south to Owatonna, Minnesota, where it was reassembled as a university conference center. The ordeal took 18 months, and when it reopened in 2011, Frank Gehry himself wryly noted that the movers had gotten the relocated Guest House “93.6% right.”
Since then, though, the University of St. Thomas has decided to sell the land out from under the unusual Winton Guest House. Last year, the University sold the parcel of land the Guest House sat on to Meridian Behavioral Health Services, a company that has since converted the land into an addiction treatment center. At the time of the sale, the University retained the title to the Winton Guest House and originally planned to move it yet again, possibly to downtown Minneapolis.
Ultimately, though, these options proved financially unfeasible, so the Winton Guest House is up for sale yet again. The unusual building, which resembles a child’s drawing come to life and contains three small bedrooms as well as a “living tower,” will be auctioned off to the highest bidder, who will also have to pay to move it to a new location. That will prove expensive. When the University of St. Thomas moved the Winton Guest House in 2011, the undisclosed price was estimated to cost in the high six-figures.
Still, the opportunity to own a genuine Gehry-designed house doesn’t come around often, so something tells me the Winton Guest House will find a bidder. If the Guest House depreciated from 100% to 93.6% during its first move, though, what percentage will Gehry decide its movers have “gotten right” when its cut apart and moved again?
(via The Star Tribune)