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.