Enter MN: Spotlight on University Grove with Jane King Hession

An in-depth account of the life and career of Minnesota’s first modern architecteIn the late 1920s, the University of Minnesota set aside gently rolling land in Falcon Heights, adjacent to its St. Paul campus, for the development of a residential enclave for university faculty and administrators. The idea was to attract top educators with the opportunity to build an architect-designed home on idyllic, university-owned land near campus—and it worked. Between roughly 1930 and 1970, University Grove slowly filled with 103 homes, first with Tudors and Colonials and then with an array of midcentury designs by Minnesota’s leading practitioners.

The U’s requirements that the homes be designed by architects and not exceed a moderate cap in construction costs translated to a collection of houses that are diverse in expression while compatible in scale. Nearly a century after it broke ground, University Grove remains a residential wonderland for lovers of midcentury design.

For insight on the Grove and its enduring appeal, ENTER spoke with Jane King Hession, architectural historian and author of Elizabeth Scheu Close: A Life in Modern Architecture. Elizabeth (“Lisl”) and Winston Close, founders of Close Associates, designed 15 houses in the Grove, including one for their own family. In the richly illustrated book, Hession traces the life of the groundbreaking architect from her childhood in Vienna in an architecturally significant home to her education at MIT and her seminal influence on modernism in Minnesota over a six-decade career.

Read the full interview at Enter MN. 

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