Buying a Mid-Century-Modern house in University Grove

university grove – sold

Looking for an authentic mid-century-modern home to make your own? You might get lucky and find the right home quickly, but it usually requires patience. It took this couple about two years to find this house designed by Tom Van Housen, but they finally closed on the house they had been waiting for this week!

Although there are mid-century-moderns scattered throughout the metro, the University Grove neighborhood nestled between the University of Minnesota St. Paul campus and Luther Theological Seminary where they found their home is a unique treasure trove with houses designed by noted MCM architects such as Ralph Rapson and Elizabeth Close. Only 8 blocks long and one and a half blocks wide, it feels like part of neighboring St. Anthony Park, but this is a separate community with a Falcon Heights address in the Roseville school district.

university grove-map

This group of 103 homes built for UMN professors and administrators over a 60-year period on land owned by the University of Minnesota is an architectural time capsule. Because each home had to be designed by an architect with a maximum ceiling on costs, no two houses are alike yet they create a cohesive mix.

Part of what makes this community so unique is the land is owned by the University and leased to the homeowners… but there are rules. Homes for sale in University Grove must first be offered to University of Minnesota faculty and staff, but if not sold after 90 days they can be offered to the general population under a ‘hardship’ rule.

If you are UMN faculty or staff, this is a real plus for you because it cuts down on competition. But if you are not, as in the case of my clients who closed this week, it can mean an agonizing waiting period, wondering if someone else is going to come and buy ‘your house’!

My buyers easily came to an agreement with the sellers, but it was waiting for University approval for the land lease that was nerve wracking. After inspection negotiations, appraisal and financing approval we were into the last 2 weeks before projected closing when we learned a UMN faculty member was considering the property… ARGH!! Fortunately, they decided against it and we got word the University Grove board approved the purchase last Friday. We closed this Wednesday, just a few days later.

What was perhaps the highlight of the closing was signing the lease for the land… what we waited and waited and waited for and could not close without!

university grove – signing

There are many outstanding mid-century-modern homes designed by noted architects in this community which borders “The Park”, as neighborhood residents affectionately refer to St. Anthony Park. It is one of St. Paul’s premier walkable, highly educated and socially aware neighborhoods… with neighborhood services including restaurants/coffee shops, a bank, small specialty shops, churches, schools, a grocer, and a Carnegie library which is the busiest in the the metro area.

university grove – houses

Wanting to buy a mid-century-modern home of your own? Let me know, I would love to help… they are scattered throughout the metro. Just know that it usually requires a lot of patience!

Sharlene Hensrud, RE/MAX Results – Mid-Century-Modern Realtor –


Written By

I love what I do! Highly insightful, analytical and creative, there is nothing I love more than helping you find the right solution for your real estate transition. My mission is to serve my clients with honesty and integrity, exceeding their expectations in service and support… and to help others by donating a portion of every transaction to Habitat for Humanity.

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