4500 MINNETONKA BLVD. Star of Bethlehem

Once visible from Minnetonka Blvd., this stately (Georgian/Edwardian?) brick mansion was built on the site of the former rambling McCartey house.  Bob Whalen tells us that “The McCarteys were family acquaintances and prominent at the turn of the century.”

The present building was designed by Frederick Mann, founder of the U of M’s School of Architecture. The building started off its life in 1924 as the Star of Bethlehem Home, operated by the Christian Science Church. The facility was started by mother and daughter Emma and Abigail Thompson from Boston.  It originally had 26 bedrooms and 14 bathrooms. In 1933, the directory listed Miss A.D. Thompson, President and Mrs. A. Robertson, Matron.

Mary Whalen Ramsay, who lived close by and worked in the building, tells us: “People who were students of Christian Science spent quiet time at the home in prayer and study and being healed. It was not a place to go to die in but a place to be healed which happened often. Trained Christian Science nurses took care of the guests and the present Christian Science care facility is now located in New Brighton.”


For a set of pictures of the building, inside and out, go to http://collections.mnhs.org/visualresources/ and type in Bethlehem Home.

In 1964 the building was purchased by DayStar, a Christian group led by John J. Winter. A 1979 article indicates that Larry Ballard was the head of a household of 40 families. It was called a Christian community ministry center. The 35-40 people were undergoing rehabilitation from divorce, emotional problems, carrying an illegitimate child, or chemical dependency. Residents shared chores, and attended classes in healing, Biblical praying, and relationships.

Stephanie Battleson lived in the building with her father and sister when it was owned by Daystar.  She remembers:  “To me it was a magical place with secret passages and that old creepy elevator and the dumb waiter in the kitchen. My dad had a work shop on the first floor. I think he lived on the third floor (not quite sure). It was a very unique place to live and I loved it. We would play in the hallway on the first floor – my sister (Sarah) would roller skate while I rode my tricycle. At times Sarah would play the piano in one of the rooms on the first floor. We would watch movies in the study I believe.  We really had some great memories over the years in this home.”


In 1986 the Monterey Place Apartments (4550 Minnetonka) were built on what had been the front lawn of the property, between the old building and Minnetonka Blvd. This necessitated a change of the old building’s address to 2925 Monterey.

The bank foreclosed on Daystar in 1991. The building was proposed as a 100-bed American Youth Hostel, but after lengthy negotiations, the deal fell through. At the time it had 23 sleeping rooms.

In December 1992 the building was purchased by the Monterey Cohousing Community. At the time, it was one of about 100 cohousing communities in the U.S., although it has been used in Europe for centuries. It is not based on any ideology other than the efficiency and sense of community and neighborhood it engenders. The building is divided up into eight units of various sizes. Residents share common living space, cooking, child care, and maintenance. They regularly share meals during the week.


In 1994 the group built 16 townhomes nearby, developed by Dave Kingman.