Historic houses offer lodging for visiting faculty

The houses offer temporary lodging when on-campus space isn’t available.

Lindsay Guentzel

When the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity moved into a new house in 1994, it left its historic Fifth Street Southeast mansion empty and in rough shape.

University alumnus Kelly Carver bought the property and opened the Wales House, a temporary lodging house for visiting faculty, but said he had to rehabilitate the entire house after he bought it.

“It was a mess,” Carver said.

Carver came up with the idea for the Wales House through his job as a conference manager for a research department at the University, he said.

He said it was difficult for him to find temporary housing for the faculty that visited the department, and when he proposed the idea, the University wasn’t planning to develop its own.

Though the Marcy Holmes Neighborhood Association originally voted against his idea, it eventually approved it, he said.

“There wasn’t anything like this anywhere,” he said.

Carver, who lives on site with his family, said he has hosted almost 3,000 visitors from 67 countries since 1994.

The Wales House isn’t the only house offering temporary lodging in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood.

The Historic Faculty House opened its doors to visitors in March 2005.

Owner David Hoban said he purchased the former fraternity house in December 2004.

He knew he wanted to open a faculty house on the property instead of renovating the property into separate units, he said.

“It was such a nice structure,” he said.

Both properties offer continental breakfast, guest kitchens, parking, on-site laundry, air conditioning and free wireless Internet.

The Wales House has 10 guest rooms, and room rates run between $37 and $65 per night.

The Historic Faculty House, located on 10th Avenue Southeast, has 12 guest rooms with rates ranging between $45 and $120 per night.

While both houses are surrounded by student housing, Hoban and Carver said they haven’t had many problems with student neighbors.

“We love being down here,” Hoban said. “Every once in a while you run into an issue late night where someone is making more noise than you’d want to have, but in general it’s a great place.”

Carver said his family gets along well with sorority neighbors.

“We are just on very good terms with people here,” he said.

Carver said past problems with other student houses in the neighborhood, such as noise complaints, have been resolved.

Every year, the University’s Housing and Residential Life office publishes a list of temporary lodging options in the Twin Cities area, which includes the Wales House and Historic Faculty House.

Landlords can add their properties to the list, although the University doesn’t inspect or endorse any of the submissions.

The University does offer temporary housing options, but space is limited due to student housing demands.

According to the Housing and Residential Life Web site, there is no faculty and staff guest housing for the 2007-2008 academic year because residence halls and apartments are at capacity.

Faculty and staff who plan on staying at the University for an extended period can live in University-run properties, like Pillsbury Court.

Colleges across the country are adding university-run houses to accommodate visiting professors and faculty on their campuses.

The University of California-Los Angeles operates a 61-room guest house on campus, but Hoban said he doesn’t think the University will add one.

“I don’t know that the University would have the time and energy to put in the kind of detail that you need to have to run a place like this,” Hoban said, “which is what sets us apart.”