A University of Minnesota Neighborhood
by Rita Hanle
An article appearing in the The New York Times on Thursday, January 5, 1989, describes University Grove as “St. Paul’s Architectural Time Capsule.” It is a quiet wooded corner next to the University of Minnesota campus showcasing a midwestern residential architecture. Curved streets and majestic oaks define the Grove in its secluded but convenient location. A national pioneer of urban planning at the time, the firm of Morel and Nichols was historically significant as the original designer of the community in 1928 and 1929. The university retains the title to the 103 individual lots and leases them to homeowners at rates that ranged from $75 to $200 a year. Only a few other universities, including Stanford and Princeton, have pursued this experiment of a university/community connection.
The land for University Grove was first set aside in 1928 by the university regents, who felt this opportunity to build affordable homes close to their teaching posts would attract faculty members. Tenured professors and university administrators were offered mortgages starting at three percent but had to abide by a ceiling on costs, including architect fees of $10,000 in the ’20s and ’30s, $18,000 to $27,000 in the ’50s, and $40,000 in the ’60s and ’70s. Residents were required to have their homes designed by an architect and not be picked out of a builder’s catalog of ranch houses and split levels.
The University Grove Homeowners Association operates under a set of bylaws adopted in 1988. As an active organization representing all households, the association communicates issues that are of common interest to the Grove community. It conducts an annual meeting and organizes other events such as the neighborhood picnic and National Night to Unite.
Judy Woodward, “The University Grove: An Architectural Time Capsule” Park Bugle, September, 2013.
Linda Lee, “St. Paul’s Architectural Time Capsule,” The New York Times, January 5, 1989.