Duluth Human Development Center mansion to become birthing centerThe mansion at 1730 E. Superior St. in Duluth used by the Human Development Center will be sold next month and become the first non-hospital birthing center in northern Minnesota.
By: Candace Renalls, Duluth News Tribune
The mansion at 1730 E. Superior St. in Duluth used by the Human Development Center will be sold next month and become the first non-hospital birthing center in northern Minnesota.
“It’s going to be a real asset to the community,” said Beth Wentzlaff, the CMRA broker handling the sale. “We have midwives around. But not where patients can come to them. And it’s cozy. The building is absolutely gorgeous inside.”
The sale of the property to MDF Holdings LLC at close to the $565,000 asking price will close June 21, according to Wentzlaff. The buyer will then lease it to Morning Star Women’s Health and Birth Center.
“It’s such a beautiful building, and it’s so large,” said Rebecca Gorski, Morning Star’s chief operations officer. “The birth center will only occupy half of the building. The rest will be rented out to like-minded health professionals.”
Morning Star also has birthing centers in Menomonie, Wis., and St. Louis Park, Minn.
“The birthing center is a place for healthy, natural, joyful births for low-risk moms,” Gorski said.
A man from Menomonie not associated with Morning Star is behind the limited liability company that is buying the Duluth mansion, said Wentzlaff, who declined to identify him. Morning Star was looking for a new location, he was looking for an investment and they worked out a deal, she said.
With recent city approval to use the mansion as a birth center, the sale can now move forward.
“The city was very supportive and cooperative and helped get this through,” Wentzlaff said.
The center, offering natural childbirth, will be run by midwives who will see patients throughout their pregnancies and with postpartum follow-up. It will have a licensed staff of certified professional midwives and certified nurse midwives; it also will collaborate with physicians as needed, Gorski said.
A Sept. 15 opening is planned.
The center is already seeing patients with due dates of Sept. 15 or beyond at a temporary location downtown.
The Human Development Center, which bought the 6,000-square-foot house in 2006, serves residents with mental health issues. In recent years, it has used the building to house its administrative offices, Harmony Club drop-in center and the club’s Palace Diner, offering lunches to the public for a nominal fee.
The nonprofit put the mansion up for sale last summer to reduce costs because of funding cuts. Staff said the building no longer fit its needs. If sold, staff offices and programs at the site would be moved to its other locations in Duluth, they said.
Wentzlaff noted that the Human Development Center had invested more than $270,000 in improvements to the building, including a new roof resembling the original clay tile roof, a new boiler, air conditioning, windows and wiring.
The mansion was built in 1909 by Joseph Sellwood, one of the city’s early elite who made his fortune in iron ore and was president of three banks when he died in 1914. The house was a wedding gift for one of his daughters.
As soon as the sale closes, Morning Star will start interior renovations, creating first-floor clinic rooms and a classroom. But most of the work will be upstairs where the former bedrooms will be converted into three birthing suites with private bathrooms that will include birth tubs for pain management, relaxation and water births.
But Wentzlaff said much of the standout original features will be kept intact.
“They fell in love with the woodwork, especially in the dining room,” she said. “That’s all staying.”