Challenging weather continues to haunt the Frank Gehry-designed guest house that is being reassembled on the grounds of the University of St. Thomas Gainey Conference Center in Owatonna.
Partially due to inclement weather, it took a year and a half to move the architecturally famous house from its original location in Orono to its new home at the Gainey Center.
The home formerly overlooked Lake Minnetonka; today it overlooks the temporary Lake Gainey.
The home’s six segments were moved piece by piece and crews from Owatonna-based Casey and Groesbeck have been restoring and reassembling them since June. They were planning to install the home’s tower tomorrow, at least until the rains came, and came and came.
The home was donated to St. Thomas by real estate developer Kirt Woodhouse. It eventually will become a “house museum.” Its designer, Frank Gehry, is considered to be one of the world’s greatest living architects. The guest house was so architecturally innovative that it once was featured as Time magazine’s House of the Year.
By 11 a.m. yesterday, Owatonna had received 6.47 inches of rain, and it was still coming down at a rate of about half an inch per hour.
The city of Owatonna had closed a dozen streets by noon. Newspaper websites carried many pictures of swamped roads, parks, homes and businesses. “Heavy rains and flash flooding are wreaking havoc around Owatonna and Steele County,” was the news carried by the Owatonna Peoples Press yesterday afternoon.
Although the Straight River that flows along the edge of the Gainey property was overflowing its banks yesterday, the conference center was weathering the storms well.