During my college years, as a University of Saint Francis student, the Brookside Mansion was my hiding spot. As the library, it was a hot-spot for studious students. Then called the Bass Mansion, it was my favorite place to study for courses and dream about history. Like most great things, it has gotten better with age! In 2010, it was complete restored and now serves as the administration building and the library moved into the Pope John Paul II Building.
The Bass Mansion was built by John Henry Bass in the 1880s as the centerpiece of his country estate. Bass an industrialist built the mansion as a summer home. In 1902, the Mansion was damaged in a gas explosion ignited by a basement fire that destroyed all but a portion of the exterior masonry. By 1903, the resurrected home incorporated a combination of stone, concrete, and steel. In 1944, the Sisters of Saint Francis of Perpetual Adoration relocated their college to the site. Today, the Brookside Mansion contains elaborate stenciling, handpainted murals, elegant plasterwork and intricate woodwork. Each room of the mansion is diversely themed room with its own decorative style.
You can see all the beauty of the Brookside Mansion. Tours cost $5 per person (free to USF alumni, faculty, staff and students Jan.-Oct.) and are available by advance reservation only. Reservations can be made for Tuesday mornings or Thursday afternoons. Groups of 10 or fewer can be accommodated on each tour. Unescorted tours are only available in December, during USF’s Christmas in the Castle celebration. The University of Saint Francis is located at 2701 Spring Street, minutes from downtown.