The New York Times called this neighborhood an architectural time capsule of modern midwestern residential architecture

About the Grove

When landscape architects planned the area, originally four blocks long and only one and a half blocks wide, they emphasized the natural land contours, tree clusters and vistas. By the 1960s the old Grove neared capacity and the University added more lots to the east making the Grove eight blocks long. Grove residents of today continue to enjoy the aesthetic qualities of the original site plan: Long blocks with central commons areas provide unobstructed views as well as convenient, safe play places for children. Homes on the northern boundary of the neighborhood overlook the 10th fairway of the golf course and wooded, former streetcar line.

Setting aside land in the 1920s for faculty and staff housing was the brainchild of University of Minnesota Vice President (and one-time Grove resident) William Middlebrook. He reasoned the availability of such housing would be a great asset in the recruitment and retention of top-flight teachers and administrators.

Over the years, the Grove has been home to famous residents and all ranks of university people. Notable residents have included:

  • Margaret Davis, first female Regents Professor at the University of Minnesota
  • Jerry Shepard, a former academic vice president and distinguished consultant in electrical engineering
  • Winston Close, along with his wife, Elizabeth, designed 14 of the homes in the Grove
  • Walter Heller, Regents Professor of Economics and economic advisor to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson
  • Bryce Crawford, renowned physical chemist, a Regents Professor of Chemistry and dean of the graduate school
  • Alfred Nier, Regents Professor of Physics, and a pioneer member of the team which developed the atomic bomb
  • Adamson Hoebel, Regents Professor of Anthropology, and former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Utah
  • B. F. Skinner, psychologist, and “father” of behavioral psychology in America
  • Henry Schmits, a distinguished agricultural scientist who became president of the University of Washington in Seattle
  • Bernie Bierman, a great coach of Minnesota collegiate football

Because each single family home had to be designed by an architect with a maximum ceiling on costs, no two houses are the same and every one was specifically designed for its site. The cap on costs made it impossible for any new arrival to build a house appreciably larger or more luxurious than its neighbors. The initial cost was $10,000. By the early 1950s it was $27,500 and by 1970, it had reached $48,500. Over the six decades, the Grove houses, for all their architectural differences, are pleasingly compatible.

The Grove represents the work of many distinguished residential architects, several of whom have been associated with the University’s School of Architecture. A partial list includes:

  • William Ingemann
  • Edwin Lundie
  • Rollin Chapin
  • Roy Childs Jones
  • Thodes Robertson
  • Elizabeth and Winston Close
  • Robert Cerny
  • Harlan McClure
  • Carl Graffunder
  • Frank Kerr
  • Ralph Rapson
  • Tom Van House
  • Joseph Nichols
  • Richard Hammel
  • Michael McGuire

Because of the many architects involved over the years, there is great architectural variety in the Grove. Early houses were mostly Tudor or colonial styles. Later structures tended toward modern functionalism, showing the strong influence of the Bauhaus and the international style. All of the homes are well designed and well built.