New owners of the Van Dusen mansion include St. Paul attorney Jeffrey Anderson and his son.
The Van Dusen mansion, the historic 12,000-square-foot pink granite manse that became an expensive pawn in the Trevor Cook Ponzi scheme, is getting reborn as an events center, its new owners said Monday.
The owners, who bought the South Minneapolis mansion in April for $1.55 million but kept their identities a secret, include Jeff Anderson, the St. Paul attorney who specializes in abuse cases and recently sued the Vatican, and his son, Matt and daughter-in law, Jennifer, who have deep food and beverage management experience in the Twin Cities.
On Monday, Matt Anderson said he'll act as general manager for the Van Dusen Mansion, which will specialize in weddings, social events and business meetings.
Matt Anderson said his father and his wife, Julie, have a deep interest in historic buildings and already own a well-known B&B in Stillwater that's been completely renovated. The Andersons also did a complete renovation of the downtown St. Paul building where Jeff Anderson has law offices.
The partnership, which operates under the name of Van Dusen Preservation Group, came together because the investors, which also include Bayport attorney Dwight Cummins, saw an opportunity to save the mansion from an uncertain future.
"This was such a unique space for events," said Matt Anderson, who is researching the possibility that one of his grandmothers worked in the house as a maid. "We all sat down and said 'This makes a lot of sense.'"
The mansion, built in 1892 with castle-like turrets, was rescued in 1994 by a La Crosse, Wis., businessman two weeks before it was scheduled to be demolished. Hundreds of thousands in renovations later -- on the main house, carriage house and a more modern addition -- the house was sold again and then operated as a B&B and eent center.
Trevor and Gina Cook bought it in 2007. Trevor Cook used the building as offices from which he ran his Ponzi scheme that bilked more than $190 million from more than 1,000 investors. In April, he pleaded guilty to two charges in the scheme.
The house went into receivership and was eventually listed for sale at $1.9 million.
The only on-site person will be another investor, Mark Suess, who will act as creative director and property manager and will live in an apartment near the building's opulent third-floor ballroom. Suess also runs an interior design business.
Jim Buchta • 612-673-7376