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Rectory for the Parish of St. Anthony
Purcell and Elmslie
Minneapolis, Minnesota   1913

Text by William Gray Purcell
Parabiographies entry, Volume for 1913

Job date (in Parabiography): April 16, 1913

Rectory for Parish House of St. Anthony (Father Kenny), Minneapolis

This was the strangest of commissions, and it is a bit puzzling to understand how it happened. One spring afternoon the office was almost deserted, the draughting room absorbed in its technicalities, when in came a very quiet little man in a clerical collar. He introduced himself as Father Kenny, and engaged me in conversation for perhaps half an hour on general topics. He then said he would like a home for himself. He outlined a domestic establishment for the five priests who made up his official family, explained the need for accommodation for cook and housekeeper in a separate wing where weddings and other ceremonies could be properly taken care of, rooms for conferences, and asked me what the the proper procedure. We could show him studies in ten days, and so he left without further comment or inquiry.

[WGP annotates the draft: "Father Kenny erased some of my Presbyterian rough spots without saying a word."

When he returned, he was well satisfied with what he had done, made a few practical changes, and asked what was to be done next. We would make working drawings which would take five or six weeks, but he should come in occasionally to general approval before the drawings were traced, which he did. Everything was satisfactory. When the drawings were completed, they called for a thoroughgoing functional building that would considered contemporary today, to cost about $30,000 - a dwelling that would run to $50,000 [Later, WGP says: "$75,000."] at present costs. We secured and tabulated the contractors' proposals and turned over all the information to him. He would secure approval from his bishop in St. Paul, a matter which he considered a mere formality, as he was the executive of his particular parish in Minneapolis.

On his way to St. Paul the taxicab hit an obstruction in the road, threw Father Kenny against the ceiling of the car, and seriously injured his head and neck. His life was despaired of for a number of months. He finally recovered enough to about a little, and about a year later, when he was able to see people again, we called upon him in the matter of our fee. He expressed his regret at the circumstances, and when told, he handed us a check for the amount without question, and said that he hoped by another year to be strong enough to enter upon the matter of proceeding with the construction, at which time he would call upon is for our further assistance. Six months later he died, and the opportunity to build a really distinguished domestic monument for the Catholic Church in Minneapolis had passed into history.

   Collection: William Gray Purcell Papers, Northwest Architectural Archives, University of Minnesota [AR:B4d1.7]
research courtesy mark hammons