If you're walking around in downtown Minneapolis it would be hard to miss the St. Thomas campus. Not because we have the biggest, or the tallest building downtown, but because each building has a distinctive look, thanks to their Kasota Limestone exterior. Sadly, it was reported last week in the Mankato Free Press that one of that city's oldest businesses, Mankato Kasota Stone, "has closed as the recession-driven slowdown in construction hurt the market for local limestone."
Mike Porter, director of the Master of Business Communication program noted that Kasota Limestone "certainly is a major element of the visual brand identity of the university." He added that, "It facilitates the transfer of our brand to downtown." True, especially when compared to the mostly metal and glass skyscrapers that make up the minneapolis skyline. Almost every building on the main campus in St. Paul is made with Kasota Limestone.
Porter said that the original use of the stone on the St. Paul campus was negotiated by the university president as a donation. It looked so good we’ve bought it for buildings ever since. The newest buildings on campus (in St. Paul), the Anderson Student Center and Anderson Athletics and Recreation Center both are clad in Kasota Limestone. Unfortunately business from UST wasn't enough for the mine.
...as construction projects withered in the Great Recession, demand for building materials followed suit. Many architects and builders opted to use cheaper, prefabricated materials, as well as brick, glass and steel, instead of the Mankato stone. While the building industry has improved in the past year, the recovery came too late for Mankato Kasota Stone. (Star Tribune)
So, is St. Thomas out of luck for any future buildings that may go up on campus? Fortunately, no. The Star Tribune reports that "two quarries in [Mankato] remain active, with others coming in on a lease basis and extracting" stone on order. There are several other notable buildings and landmarks in Minneapolis built with Kasota Limestone, including the Stone Arch Bridge and Target Field.
Check the UST Newsroom for a slideshow of UST limestone architecture and more on Mankato Kasota Stone’s relationship with the university.