ralph rapson home

Lately, the name Rapson has been involved in some of my business both on the listing side and on the buy side. As long as the name has been at the forefront of my real estate dealings lately along with the passing of Mr. Rapson earlier this year at the age of 93, I thought it would make an excellent topic for this weeks Blog.

On the list side, I’ve been hired to represent a high end “to be built” four-plex of modern condominiums that were designed by Toby Rapson of Rapson and Associates. Toby also happens to be the son of the late Ralph Rapson and together with Ralph’s grandson Lane, continue to produce quality design at their Cedar-Riverside office in Minneapolis.

On the buy side, I’ve had the good fortune to represent one of my clients in acquiring a classic mid-century built by Rapson in 1956. Located in the University Grove section next to the University of Minnesota St. Paul campus, this property had only been on the market for a few days when multiple offers started rolling in. Another perfect example of one of my earlier blogs discussing that in most cases, good or bad market, excellent design and a recognized architect can sell your home and not the square footage or the size of the garage. The home was being marketed “as is” and will definitely be a fairly large project for my client to restore.

This was my first transaction involving an architect that I consider to be one of the foremost American leaders in the world of modern architecture. This particular home was occupied by the original owners and been pretty much left untouched from its initial design. What a thrill to hold in my hands orignal drawings, sketches, and prints that came from Rapson’s hand.

University Grove consists of 103 single-family homes owned by University faculty and staff situated on land owned by the University. 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 Housen, Joseph Nichols, Richard Hammel, Michael McGuire and Thomas Horty. 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.

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