This old University of Minnesota house: a peek inside Eastcliff

The communications folks at the U of M gave members of the media a tour of Eastcliff today, the official residence of the school’s president.  The current residents are U of M president Eric Kaler and his wife Karen, who moved in this summer.

The purpose of the tour, according to our guides, was to “demystify” Eastcliff.  They say the public gets the impression the 1922 mansion serves solely as the Kaler’s home, and they have the run of the property.

Not so says Lyndell King, who heads up the Eastcliff Technical Advisory Committee (she’s also the director of the Weisman Art Museum on campus).

King says Eastcliff serves as a gathering space for a number of events during the year, everything from fundraising dinners to events honoring U of M faculty.

So why was this “demystification” required? My sense is the public wonders what’s going on inside this mansion each time there’s a major renovation, which tends to take place just as a new president moves in.

The latest renovation included a new kitchen in the upstairs residence, a rehabbed guest house/pool house in the backyard, and a new security system on the property.  The price tag for the renovations was over $500,000 and was paid for with a mix of private donations and U of M funds.

So here’s a quick peek inside Eastcliff.

Near the mansion’s front entrance is the stairway to the Kaler’s private second floor residence. If you like to hit open houses to check out how people live, you’ll be disappointed, it wasn’t part of the tour.

If you attend a dinner honoring U of M faculty, or if you’re a donor being pressed to give a little more cash, you might find yourself here in Eastcliff’s dining room.  The Kaler’s picked out the art throughout the house, which comes from the U’s Weisman Art musuem.

Eastcliff’s living room.  The shelves in this room are lined with books on the arts in Minnesota, and the room itself features art and sculptures from the Weisman.

A scene from Eastcliff’s backyard.  This part of the property has gone through major renovations during the past decade, including security upgrades, repairs to a backyard pool, and a rebuilt guest house.