University House set to go modern

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David Minton/DRC
Preparations to pour cement for the foundation of the new University House continue at the site on the Texas Woman’s University campus on Wednesday in Denton.

It’s not exactly a presidential palace, but the new home for the soon-to-be-hired president and chancellor of Texas Woman’s University will feature 5,500 square feet with four bedrooms, three-plus bathrooms and an outdoor fireplace.

The stone, wood and brick home — which will become the third University House — will cost up to $500,000 when the cost of demolition of the old home is included. It is set to be completed by May when the new president is expected to be on the job, according to the construction contract, a copy of which was obtained by the Denton Record-Chronicle.

Construction is set to begin any day once the weather improves, said Harold Johnson, associate vice president for facilities management and construction.

“It’s a very nice design. We picked up some of the motif by using some stone finishes that are similar to the Little Chapel-in-the-Woods,” he said. “We just thought it would be nice to pick up some character.”

Key Custom Homes Inc., which submitted the winning bid to build the home, has built the forms for the supporting structure and is waiting until the weather improves to pour the concrete, Johnson said.

The home will be built on the edge of campus on Administration Drive, adjacent to the TWU golf course, at the same location as the previous home.

The home’s exterior will feature stonework, as well as wood and brick blends similar to other buildings on campus, Johnson said. A private, three-car garage will be hidden in the back, unlike the garage at the previous presidential home.

“The site is always the best thing — that site is just wonderful over there,” he said. “The approach to the house brings you strictly to the front of the house, and that was not the case before. ... It’s a nice feature.”

The living space in the home is open and completely handicap-accessible, including the four bedrooms, three full bathrooms and two half-baths. The kitchen is open so that caterers can handle events, and there is a dining room, a wine cellar and a study, Johnson said.

The home also features a covered entry and front porch, and a 1,000-square-foot back patio with a fireplace.

The contract between TWU and Key Custom Homes was signed Sept. 4, then approved by the Board of Regents on Nov. 1.

“Absolutely everything [is better],” he said. “It was just an older home, and this is a new, very modern home with much more square footage, a lot more open and accessible.”

The dwelling will replace the previous University House, which was demolished in September despite local and state resistance.

The old house was designed by Arch Swank, who worked extensively with noted architect O’Neil Ford, but this project used architects from the builder’s company, Johnson said.

During the construction, President and Chancellor Ann Stuart is living at the Gertrude Gibson House, which was the first home designed by Ford and was donated to the university by former TWU employee Gertrude Gibson.

Stuart is set to retire when her successor is announced, which is expected by the end of the spring semester; a search advisory committee is actively seeking candidates.

“Substantial completion” of the project must be achieved by May 15 and the home must be move-in ready by May 31, according to the contract. If the deadline for substantial completion is not met, Key Custom Homes must pay TWU $300 each calendar day the work is incomplete, according to the contract.

The regents voted in June to demolish the 2,700-square-foot University House after it was deemed too complicated and expensive to renovate.

Because the building was nearly 60 years old, the Texas Historical Commission evaluated the home and in August deemed it was locally significant and eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places, but the regents opted to not do that.

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.


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