The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

January 13, 2010

Cray Mansion annex could become apartments

Plan calls to divide historic building into three apartments with 10 bedrooms

MANKATO — Nearly two years after he bought it, a developer has submitted a plan to divide the Cray Mansion's basement and annex into three apartments.

This isn’t a surprise — Developer Shawn Clow has said he’d like to fill the property with about 10 tenants. The plan would create three rental units, two in the attached annex and one in the basement. The remainder of the house will be Clow's residence.

City staff discussed the application Tuesday during a closed meeting. Clow declined to comment on the issue.

The YWCA sold the Cray Mansion to a private developer in February of 2008, partly because maintenance costs had become a drag.

A public-private partnership including the city of Mankato to buy the mansion fell apart in early 2007. The Mankato Area Foundation proposed to buy the mansion for $225,000 and give it to the city, which would be responsible for upkeep. The reduced sale price — less than half the $505,000 Clow paid for it, according to court records — would allow the YWCA to stay in the mansion. But the City Council never voted on the measure because it wanted to open up the space to other nonprofits and not simply pay maintenance on a building occupied largely by the Y.

In the past, the second floor of the mansion has been used to house girls. Newspaper articles from 1939 and 1952 show that eight girls lived in the mansion.

The Cray Mansion is on the National Register of Historic Places, but this does not afford the structure any special protection unless federal funds are involved.

Jessica Potter, executive director of the Blue Earth County Historical Society, said interior remodeling is less important than facade changes.

“The exterior of the house is what’s really in the public eye,” she said. It also helps set the period of the nearby Hubbard House, she said.

The Cray Mansion was built in 1898 and given to the YWCA in 1927.

This story was corrected to indicate the new rental units will be located in the Cray Mansion's basement and annex

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