The Brush Alumni House

Home Improvements

Suzy Brush ’80, P’07, ’11 is making sure her grandmother’s legacy is reflected in the contemporary charm and comfort of Laurentians’ home away from home.


Deborah Dudley

“I remember sitting with my grandmother in her living room looking over the carpet and wallpaper samples,” says Suzy Brush ’80, P’07, ’11 “and spending a significant amount of time with her making choices as to how the house would ultimately look.” 

Located at 11 University Avenue, the Brush Alumni House was built in the late 1800s by University Trustee Frank Cleaveland and was purchased in 1988, and a year later, was donated to the University by Suzy Brush’s grandmother, Edna Jeanne Brush ’24, in honor of Edna’s late husband, John D. Brush Sr. ’22 for all alumni, parents, and friends to enjoy a comfortable, convenient stay while visiting campus. The four-suite home celebrates its 30th anniversary as the Alumni House this fall.

Like all houses in the North Country, the punishing winters and hot, humid summers have taken a toll on the exterior over the years since her grandmother’s original transfer of the deed and dedication back in 1989. Recently, Brush returned to assist Ryan Strate and Melissa Miller, University facilities managers, to prioritize different phases of renovation necessary to enhance the house and protect the architecture for generations to come. 

“Homeowners know there is always something to be worked on,” says Brush, who has many years of experience redecorating and renovating not only numerous properties of her own in Massachusetts and New York, but also those of friends and family over the years. “And, we know it’s much easier to do it every year, little by little, instead of waiting and then having to do a huge chunk,” she says. 

To that end, Brush has donated $100,000 over five years to assist in necessary upgrades: projects such as replacing the front porch and exterior shingles along with reimagining the landscaping to enhance the practical and aesthetic value of the property. Additional phases of work under consideration include bathroom renovations, modernizing electrical fixtures as well as contemporary treatments of the interior spaces throughout the home. Brush’s attention to detail is impressive, specifying materials, fixtures, and paint colors all while maximizing quality and minimizing cost.

“I’m trying to stay true to the character of the home, too, because it is an older home,” she continues, “but you can update it, staying true to its time and character and still add some contemporary touches.” She remarks about the warm light of the sitting room and the southern exposure of a bay of windows. “For me, the most important detail is light, natural and otherwise,” she says. “I love as much natural light as possible, and you can do that without spending a lot of money.” 

Brush is clear that her support is just one part of the long-term planning for maintaining the property and she has enlisted other family members to help steward and focus the conversation on short- and long-term upgrades. When reflecting on why she is willing to invest so much of her own resources in 11 University Avenue, Brush acknowledges how deeply rooted four generations of her family are in Canton. “I grew up coming up here as a child, and when I was thinking of going to college, I was accepted at four other colleges. And then, at the last minute, I just said, ‘I’m going to go to St. Lawrence because it feels like home.’” 


To make a reservation at the Brush Alumni House, please call 315-229-5925 or email brushalumnihouse@stlawu.edu

Brush Alumni House is not available for major University weekends including Family and Reunion Weekends and Commencement.