Charles Harrington arrived in Rochester in 1871 to work for the railroad. It didn’t take long for him to realize that grain was king in Minnesota and a lot of money could be made in processing and distributing it. He partnered with George Van Dusen in 1889 to form the Van Dusen-Harrington Company to do just that. Charles served as the president of the company’s Minneapolis office. 

By 1902, Charles Harrington and George Van Dusen were among the wealthiest people in Minneapolis. Charles and his wife, Grace, decided to build a new house on Park Avenue and selected a two-acre corner lot. They chose architects Kees and Colburn to design and build the house and hired John Bradstreet to do the majority of the interior design. A handful of European craftsmen painted murals, carved ornate decorations into the woodwork, and created an Italian mosaic on the floor of the entry hall.

The house contained a library, drawing room, dining room, den, kitchen, and servants hall on the main floor. The family bedrooms were located on the second floor. The third level of the house was reserved for the ballroom and auditorium. Games rooms were located in the basement. A carriage house was built behind the house using the same materials. In all, the house and carriage house totaled 30,000 square feet of space.

Charles and Grace lived in the home with their daughter Laura and her husband–Walter Hudson, president of JB Hudson Jewelers–until the couple purchased a home on 24th and Park. Grace’s sister moved into the mansion as well.

Grace died in 1919 and Charles followed in 1928. Zuhrah Shriners purchased the home from the Harrington estate in 1929 for $25,000. They used the mansion for events and meeting space, and added an events center to the property. After 82 years of ownership, Zuhrah Shrine sold the property in 2011 to Saint Mary’s University. The mansion has had just three owners in its nearly 120-year history.