Brookside Mansion Tours

The University of Saint Francis offers tours of the historic Richardsonian masterpiece, Brookside Mansion. Formerly known as the Bass Mansion, the summer home for the Bass family has been restored, thanks to generous gifts from alumni, friends, foundations, corporations, faculty and staff.

These guided one-hour tours allow visitors to step back in time to an era when extraordinary craftsmanship and artistic touches were the standard for wealthy families like the Basses. The restoration also includes the modern comforts of an elevator for access to all floors and air conditioning to accommodate working offices for several university departments.

Tours cost $5 per person (free to USF alumni, faculty, staff and students Jan.-Oct.) and are available by advance reservation only. Reservations can be made for Tuesday mornings or Thursday afternoons. Groups of 10 or fewer can be accommodated on each tour. Unescorted tours are only available in December, during USF’s Christmas in the Castle celebration.

To make reservations, email or call the Brookside Mansion coordinator at 260.399.8032. USF student groups may schedule tours at any time during normal business hours by contacting the coordinator.

Brookside Poem

Brookside Crossing
Written by Dr. Andrew Prall

What is absolute poverty but absolute

wealth inverted, a double exposure

superimposed–how the intricate frieze

leads to gargoyled end, the monstrous

art of ornament, emblem of acquiescence

to relentless manufacture–one can only

struggle so much. Resistance a cord,

leather or gold, a knotted rope

that lies beneath. Even here, rounded

arches represent a longing, a reaching

that turns in on itself. What is absolute

poverty but the hollowness of virtual

abundance, the illusion of everything

electric at our fingertips. Beyond

the romanesque lies an implicit fall,

the human instinct to roll up the exotic

into a great, big ball–Moorish vestibules

and Louis XVI bedrooms, Italian murals

depicting British hunts–that we consume

it all, a carnival of ostentation cloaked

in oak-coffered ceilings, parquet floors,

hand-painted wall coverings, hand-carved

winding staircases, domed ballroom

encircled by nearly naked nymphs.

What is absolute poverty but our true

metaphysical state made physical

by literal Francis; one imagines him

paring the connotations with a pocket

knife, one’s pruning is another’s

sculpting. A man who spared no

expense and a man who pared expense

away. A man in single-minded pursuit

of progress and a man in single-minded

pursuit of Christ. What is absolute

poverty? What is a Franciscan mansion?

What is it to build upon ashes? What is

it to be re-christened? Brookside, christened,

cleansed with a new mission, furious days

of human creation turned in on itself,

double exposed, impoverished insides

turned out, the lake mirroring not

ourselves but a flickering flame

through us, in us, with us,

o sapient thread of ethereal light,

The turret turned beacon, beckoning

us onward to halcyon days, peace

in the mercy of Christ, beyond

the world’s suffering architecture,

column, capital, cornice, cross.