clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

A Frank Gehry Work Heads to Auction, Land Not Included

New, 1 comment

You poor unloved Gehry-designed guest house. Will anyone ever want to keep you around, and hang art in you, and maybe one day commission an orchestral piece on your supposed iconoclasm? Having already been packed away and moved once, Frank Gehry's Winton Guest House is set to be auctioned off by the University of St. Thomas in May, in the face of an August 2016 deadline to have it moved from a site in Owatonna, Minnesota that the university sold last summer.

Think of the separation anxiety! Especially given that its stay in Owatonna has been relatively short-lived:

The house was given to St. Thomas by real estate developer Kirt Woodhouse who had purchased it from the Wintons in 2001. St. Thomas had the 2,300 square foot house cut into eight pieces and moved 110 miles south to Owatonna where it was reassembled and repurposed as part of a conference center. The move took 18 months and cost an undisclosed sum estimated to be in the high six-figures.

When it reopened in 2011, Gehry attended the ceremony and declared the relocated structure to be "93.6 percent right."

Retaining rights to the structure after the sale of the land, St. Thomas considered several options for its future, including "disassembling and storing it, turning it over to an arts or cultural organization, or moving it back to the Twin Cities," according to the Star Tribune.

Prominent Twin Cities art patrons Mike and Penny Winton commissioned the guest house in the early '80s to induce their kids to come back home for extended stays. It was completed in 1987 on a property overlooking Lake Minnetonka, near a 1952 home by Philip Johnson, which Gehry is said to have played off of in his own design by incorporated bricks. When developer Kirt Woodhouse acquired the land, he subdivided it into three different parcels, and successfully sold the one with the Johnson home on it. Gehry's work went unsold, which is why Woodhouse donated it to St. Thomas.

If it were a modernist structure, it would probably enjoy the warm embrace of Palm Springs. If it were a threatened FLW home, we could probably depend on Alice Walton. Where do the unloved Gehry jumbles go?

Frank Gehry's Winton Guest House to be auctioned May 19 in Chicago [Star Tribune]