Finding Minnesota: The Oval Office Of Prior Lake

PRIOR LAKE, Minn. (WCCO) — If you drive past the two-story white home off Amos and Rose Circle in Prior Lake, you may notice a certain familiarity to the building.

“They say, ‘Oh, that looks like the White House,'” said Glynn Crooks, whose home resembles the White House.

The architecture of Crooks’ house gives an indication of his interest in the presidency, but the inside gives the full scope of his fascination.

“Housed within these walls are different things depicting the different presidents,” Crooks said.

History of the highest office fills room after room.

Presidential memorabilia dating back decades is carefully placed in floor-to-ceiling glass cabinets. Among the items are invitations to President Barack Obama’s Inauguration Ball, family portraits of past presidents and other mementoes. Crooks even has two rooms dedicated to his two favorite presidents.

“President Reagan, he’s my favorite Republican president, and President Kennedy is my favorite democratic president,” Crooks said.

Over the years, Crooks added four additions to his home for all the memorabilia, but nothing compares to the centerpiece of his collection, a full-scale oval office sitting in the “west wing” of his home.

“It’s the most powerful office in the world, and it’s where the president makes his decisions in the Oval Office,” Crooks said.

Ten years ago, Crooks called builder Bernie Mahowald with an idea.

“I laughed and I probably said, ‘Glynn, what are you up to now,'” Mahowald said.

Crooks tasked Mahowald with recreating the most powerful room in the country.

“It isn’t every day you’re working on the West Wing of the Oval Office,” Mahowald joked.

Crooks was specific in the design. He wanted to use the same measurements as the real Oval Office, which he found online.

“It’s within inches of being exact,” Mahowald said. “This office really isn’t that big and when you think of all the decisions that are made, it’s really small.”

Crooks wanted other aspects of the room as close to real life as possible, including the crown molding and wood paneling around the exterior of the room.

He also took time to match certain aspects of the décor. Portraits of Presidents Washington and Lincoln hang from the walls and he commissioned an exact replica of the presidential desk.

“It is the same desk, which became known as the Kennedy desk,” Crooks said.

His interest in the history of the presidency began during a past visit to Washington D.C. For years, Crooks served as a tribal leader in the Shakopee Sioux community, which allowed him access to four sitting presidents.

“I’ve been there. I’ve been to the real Oval Office,” Crooks said. “President Clinton’s Oval Office was blue. President Obama wallpapered it all.”

As commander-in-chief of his own office, Crooks took a couple of liberties in his own décor. Instead of the presidential seal embroidered into the carpet, Crooks created his own design of a bald eagle clutching a peace pipe.

“The eagle represents strength and wisdom, and the peace pipe is our main religious symbol,” Crooks said.

After all, he’s not bound by the rules and structure of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

“I don’t have to give it up every four years,” Crooks said. “It’s here and I enjoy it.”

While some will spend their whole lives trying to attain the Oval Office, Crooks didn’t need an election, just passion for the country’s highest office.

“I just want people to have an appreciation for the presidency,” Crooks said.

He said he’s willing to give anyone a tour. If you want to check out his presidential memorabilia and his oval office, you can contact him at Glynn.Crooks@yahoo.com.

More from Rachel Slavik
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