In 1940 Josten salesmen gave their boss an Arabian horse. Deciding to breed and raise the animals, Gainey bought 180 acres on the edge of Owatonna. Beginning in 1945, Gainey and St. Paul architect Edwin H. Lundie began to draw up plans for what would become his French Norman-style residence. Construction got under way in 1953 with the home completed in 1957.
In a 50-year career, Lundie designed more than 300 projects. The majority of these projects were residences marked by Lundie's attention to detail and his concern with fine craftsmanship.
Lundie's residential designs tend toward the small, modest and intimate, and the Gainey home reflects this. A white-washed brick exterior evokes the French Provincial style and the interior is elegantly detailed, again with a French flair. The home features padded silk brocade walls, marble throughout the home, parquet flooring, gold fixtures, a Waterford crystal chandelier and a sense of beauty throughout. The lanterns reflect a theme of the home, "Variety within Unity."
Gainey served as chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Jostens from 1933 until 1959. He also was a well-known breeder of Arabian horses. Among his many affiliations, he was a trustee of Hamline University, a member of the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota and national treasurer for the Republican party.
Upon his death in 1979, at age 81, the Gainey property was bequeathed to the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. Ground was broken in 1981 for the conference center building which is constructed adjacent to the original Gainey home.
The former stallion barn, now renamed The Mews, has been converted to classrooms for the University of St. Thomas graduate programs as well as other meetings and classes which require no overnight accommodations.