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.
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.