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Historic Brookby Estate Donated to Aquinas College

October 19, 2011 - (GRAND RAPIDS, MICH.) – At its quarterly meeting last night, the Aquinas College Board of Trustees officially accepted, on behalf of the College, a generous gift from Sam and Janene Cummings. The Cummings have given a large portion of the nearby Brookby Estate to Aquinas College to be used to enhance the academics, fundraising and visibility of the College.

Brookby, which is located on Plymouth Avenue at the Southeast corner of Plymouth and Robinson Road, has close ties to Aquinas. The home, designed by New York architects Walker and Gillette with grounds by famed landscape architects Olmsted Brothers of Brookline, Massachusetts, was built between 1926 and 1927 by early Grand Rapids philanthropist, John W. Blodgett, Sr.

Brookby, the Blodgett’s retirement home, was built nearly 20 years after the construction of Holmdene Manor (now the bulk of Aquinas College’s campus) which was the home of Mr. Blodgett’s sister, Susan Blodgett Lowe. The two properties were connected at their beginning, and it is exciting to bring them back together as Aquinas College celebrates its 125th anniversary and looks toward its future of leadership in academics and innovation in its second century.

Aquinas College is grateful to Sam and Janene for their generous gift and we look forward to being good stewards of the Brookby estate,” said Lt. General John Nowak, Chair, Aquinas College Board of Trustees.

“Brookby holds a special place in our community’s history, and represents a very special place in her connection to the history of Aquinas, so Janene and I felt it was only appropriate that we donate the estate to the College,” said Sam Cummings.

“Additionally, Aquinas College has an on-going commitment to sustainability and preservation so we know our beloved Brookby will be in good hands.”

The College also announced that a Preservation Committee, chaired by Sam and Janene, has been formed. This committee has taken on the responsibility of raising all money needed for the on-going maintenance and preservation of all the historic assets that are part of the Aquinas College campus. Consequently, Aquinas College will not be taking on added expense as a result of this gift.

“This wonderful gesture by the Cummings is incredibly inspiring and consistent with their association with the historic estate,” said Aquinas College president Dr. Juan R. Olivarez. “It’s very fitting that Sam and Janene continue the legacy of philanthropy that the Blodgett and Lowe families exemplified before them. Aquinas College is very grateful to have Sam and Janene Cummings as part of our family.”

Brookby consists of:
• Two small homes
• Main house
• Patio
• Gardens/open yard to Fisk Lake
• Brook through the property
• Storage space

>Read more about the history of the Brookby estate and Holmdene Manor