Saint Francis House

Frank House Frank House 1904 Frank House 1983 Frank House 2006

Frank House, from left to right: undated, 1904, 1983 and 2006 (click thumbnails for larger images)

Architect: Raphael Knapp, OSB; renovation: Hammel, Green and Abrahamson, Inc., Minneapolis; renovation (1992): Rafferty, Rafferty, Tollefson

Contractor: Local labor; renovation: Donlar Corporation, Saint Paul


Sheltered by a fieldstone wall and spacious lawn, Saint Francis House (Frank House) was built in 1904. This three story brick building with basement, occupies about 8,200 square feet, and is located west of Wimmer Hall. Originally, the building was constructed to house the French Presentation Sisters who worked in the kitchen service from 1904 to 1913. In 1913, twenty-four Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis from Dillingen, Bavaria, arrived to manage and work in the food service for Saint John’s. A brick addition of two stories providing space for a private chapel on to the west side of the residence was added in 1914, and in 1943 a summer garden kitchen, designed by Philip Heitkemper, OSB, was built west of the convent. The German sisters worked for 45 years until they returned to their motherhouse in Hankinson, North Dakota, on March 27, 1958. In 1958 a group of Mexican-born Benedictine Sisters were invited to direct the food service for the students and the monastic community.

After the Mexican sisters departed in June 1964, the building was reclaimed as student housing as Saint Francis House. The renovations included single, double and triple rooms for about 50 upperclassmen students. Sinks were installed in each room with laundry facilities in the basement. In 1983 a complete renovation took place when rooms were converted entirely into 20 singles and ten efficiency apartments for graduate students in the School of Theology.

When the Saint Cloud Diocese gave the original Seminary Building to St. John’s in 1993, there was a need for a separate housing to take care of priesthood students. Saint Francis House was made into Saint John’s Seminary. The summer kitchen was totally enclosed, weather-proofed and became Saint Francis Chapel.  The original seminary building was renamed Emmaus Hall to house lay and religious graduate students. Saint Francis House is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.