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The house and studio are gone, but you can now live on the land where Prince recorded some of ‘Sign O’ the Times’

Photos by Lucy Hawthorne for MPR
Photos by Lucy Hawthorne for MPR

by Iman Jafri

September 02, 2020

You might not know that Majestic Way has a very similar name to one of Prince's doves, or that Rogers Court shares Prince's middle name. By the time you notice the street signs for Paisley Path and Purple Parkway, though, you'll likely have some idea that The Park isn't just another Chanhassen neighborhood.

When most folks think of Prince’s Chanhassen home, Paisley Park springs to mind, and with good reason. However, that studio complex didn't open until 1987, and even then it wasn't initially Prince's primary residence.

In the Purple Rain era, Prince lived in a literally purple house on Kiowa Trail, overlooking Chanhassen's Lake Riley. Then, as he was making Under the Cherry Moon and beginning work on what would become Sign O' the Times, Prince moved to a big yellow house bordering Lake Ann and Lake Lucy. This served as Prince’s second residence in Chanhassen.

Prince moved into the house on Galpin Boulevard in November 1985. Located on a 188-acre piece of land, Prince decked out the mansion-style three-story with a home studio, including stained glass windows and a purple acoustic piano. Another '80s amenity is indicated with the name of Windmill Drive.

It was here that Prince recorded some of his ninth studio album, Sign O’ the Times, as well as portions of The Black Album. “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker” was the first song Prince recorded on the site.

The house gets a shout-out at the beginning of Prince’s song “Zannalee,” with a mock police officer reporting “a disturbance on Galpin.” Footage from inside the Galpin house also appears in a video for a “Gett Off” remix — including a briefly-glimpsed photo of Prince’s father.

The home’s studio equipment was moved to Paisley Park in 1987 when Paisley Park was finished. The house was razed in 2006, with only the guardhouse and tennis courts left standing. However, Prince retained ownership of the land until his death in 2016.

His estate eventually sold the land, now valued at around $16 million, to real estate developer Lennar Corporation. After some dispute over how the land was to be used, with the City of Chanhassen arguing for as much of the wooded area and parkland to be preserved as possible, Lennar began construction on a new development, The Park, late last year.

The Park, not to be confused with Paisley Park, is currently open for pre-sales on  its 169 homes. Though Lennar has avoided using Prince in any of their advertising, the connection is impossible to completely erase. In their Testimonial Tuesday posts on The Park’s Facebook page, Lennar shares the words of excited new homeowners, set against a purple backdrop. One homeowner is quoted as having said, after praising their experience with the company, “We cannot wait to move into our new home and live on Prince’s land.”

Prince’s estate has requested that none of Prince’s trademarks be used in the new development, and The Park tries to pay hints of homage to Prince while distinguishing itself as a separate entity. This manifests primarily in road names honoring Prince’s legacy, like Dove Court, and Raspberry Road. One street, Mattie Circle, is named after Prince’s mother: social worker, educator, and jazz singer Mattie Della.

The Story of Sign O' the Times, an audio documentary series by The Current in collaboration with the Prince Estate, Paisley Park, and Warner Records, is exploring the complicated backstory of one of Prince's most revered records, leading up to the release of a remastered and expanded edition of the album, due out Sept. 25. Follow the series to learn much more about Prince's life and legacy on Galpin Boulevard.

Clean Water Land & Legacy Amendment
This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.