2140 Folwell Avenue

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Front of home along Folwell Avenue. The entry door is recessed from the street by a courtyard seen to the left of the garage.
View to Living Room from the Kitchen. Taken during the Docomomo Tour of Modern Homes in 2013.
Address: 2140 Folwell Avenue
Neighborhood/s: University Grove, Falcon Heights, Minnesota
Falcon Heights, Minnesota
Ramsey County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Country: United States
Year built: 1952
Primary Style: Modern
Historic Function: House/single dwelling or duplex
Current Function: House/single dwelling or duplex
Architect or source of design: Ralph Rapson
Material of Exterior Wall Covering: Stucco
Material of Roof: Rubber
First Owner: Mr. & Mrs. Paul Cashman

University Grove Falcon Heights Ramsey County

This 1952 home designed by Ralph Rapson exhibits a modern architectural style. The original owners, Mr. & Mrs. Paul Cashman, occupied this residence in University Grove for almost 60 years.



This home is approximately 1,500 sqft with four bedrooms and two baths. It is part of the University Grove district, a neighborhood adjacent to the St. Paul University of Minnesota Campus. The homeowners rent their land from the University and each home must be architecturally designed. Ralph Rapson, as the lead of the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture from 1954 to 1984, contributed several homes (approximately seven). The requirements of living in the University Grove used to include being a faculty or facility employee of the University of Minnesota. Currently these homes are first put on sale to employees of the university, then after a set amount of time, they are opened to the larger housing market.

The original owners lived in the house almost 60 years. Mr. Paul Cashman was the vice president for student affairs and a professor during his years at the university. They raised their family in this modern home and only requested one change from the original drawings. The staircase was originally designed to go the opposite way and it terminated in the basement family room. The family disliked the idea of anyone going to the basement would first have to trek through the side of the family room. Rapson agreed with this change even mentioning that he wished he had thought of that. The stairs now connect with the ground floor behind the front entrance and descend into an open area that the families’ children used as a stage and audience for plays.

The modern attributes of this home include the flat roof, floor to ceiling windows and color scheme. The entrance to the street is set back and one must pass through an overhand and into an exterior courtyard to reach the blue front door. The hallway, one bedroom and staircase all have windows that open into this cleanly designed courtyard. Open courtyards are rarely found in Minnesota and the foundation plan details the dry well that the courtyard drainage must filter into. The basement foundation does not enclose the ground below the courtyard so the drainage leads out beneath the sidewalk into the space.

Inside the home, the floor-to-ceiling windows allow a closer connection to the trees and landscaping around the home. Although this house is on a 10,454 square foot lot, the surrounding foliage makes it seem more isolated from civilization. With the windows looking on dense foliage, much of the ambient lighting comes from the skylights in the living room, bedroom/study and bathrooms. The wood floors and kitchen cabinetry are all original. And even with flooding in the basement, this home remains in good condition.

Memories and stories

Photo Gallery

Related Links

[Grove Plans Collections] [Docomomo MN]


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