The university has complete the acquisition of its first international property – in Leipzig, Germany. Dan McGregor and Dr. Tracy Shilcutt represented ACU in the legal handover of the house keys.
“That officially completes the transaction,” said Stephen Shewmaker, exectuive director of the Center for International Education. “The property is 100 percent ACU’s.”
The Center for International Education has scheduled a grand opening party for October later this year. The Leipzig mayor has even been invited to the ceremony.
McGregor, professor of art and design, is spending the semester in Leipzig as visiting faculty along with his family. The McGregors and Shilcutt enjoyed a sunny day while they received the keys to the house.
“Not a lot of pomp and ceremony but still kind of touching to be present,” McGregor said in an email.
The house is almost older than the city of Abilene and is full of quirks and interesting historical aspects. The purchase even includes a restored Gypsy circus wagon guest house in the back yard.
“The house dates back to 1883, just a couple of years after Abilene was founded – so there’s kind of a parallel history with our city and a nice reminder of how relatively young our charming frontier town is,” McGregor said.
Past occupants of the home include a fur merchant, a bank in the late 20th century, and most recently a music school. The university will retain a piano as part of the purchase. But perhaps more interesting than all of that, one of McGregor’s favorite parts of the purchase is parked in the backyard.
“The house is great, but one of my favorite parts is the gypsy circus wagon that came with the property,” McGregor said. “The former owner purchased it on Ebay from Gypsies, restored it (including the wood interior), and used it as a guest house, backyard dining area, and getaway. So ACU now owns a legit Gypsy circus wagon.”
Shilcutt, associate professor of history and associate dean of the Honors College, will accompany the first group of students to stay in the Leipzig property in the spring of 2018.
“As I walked through the house after the key exchange, I was so pleased to see that it has great potential for smaller community building for future ACU Study Abroad participants and larger community building with people in Leipzig,” Shilcutt said in an email. “The house will truly be a hub for increased global awareness and participation and I can’t wait or accompany our students to Leipzig in Spring ’18.”
The 144-year-old villa, located in the Music District of Leipzig, will be the university’s headquarters for study abroad programs in Germany. Small renovations will be made in the coming months to prepare the house for students. Shewmaker said he anticipates the renovations of bathrooms and kitchens to take two to three months. Several student groups will visit Leipzig over the summer, but the property won’t be ready in time to house summer groups.