Prince Lived in the ‘White Mansion’ He Once Hoped For: 365 Prince Songs in a Year
To celebrate the incredibly prolific, influential and diverse body of work left behind by Prince, we will be exploring a different song of his each day for an entire year with the series 365 Prince Songs in a Year.
Like many a young musician, Prince longed for fame and fortune. He described those early hopes and dreams in "White Mansion," a track from his three-disc 1996 album, Emancipation.
Of course, by that point in his career, Prince was already living in his very own white mansion, a massive living and working complex in Chanhassen, Minn., that he named Paisley Park, after one of the songs from 1985's Around the World in a Day.
“Paisley Park is in everybody's heart," he told Rolling Stone in 1985. "It's not just something that I have the keys to. I was trying to say something about looking inside oneself to find perfection. Perfection is in everyone.”
Architect Bret Thoeny of BOTO Design, who had worked with Prince a few years earlier on his home studio, was hired to design Paisley Park as Prince was working on Purple Rain. But this time, the challenge was bigger. The star wanted two recording studios, a rehearsal space, a sound stage, a concert venue, video-editing suites, offices, as well as his home. It took up 65,000 square feet and cost $10 million.
"Back then, 25 years ago, this wasn’t done," Thoeny told Billboard. "Artists weren’t building their own compounds, only large companies and record labels were. But Prince, Prince had this vision to have everything under one roof. And this was decades before it was common for any individual to do that."
They chose 7801 Audubon Road in Chanhassen, located 22 miles outside Minneapolis, as the location because there was enough land to accommodate Prince's requests. "We built it from scratch," Thoeny continued. "All white aluminum, metal panels on the outside to compliment the simplicity of the landscape. Very few windows because recording studios don’t have windows, but also because it was his place, and he wanted privacy."
According to PrinceVault, Paisley Park Studios officially opened on Sept. 11, 1987, but wasn't fully completed until 1988. Lovesexy was the first work Prince recorded there. Although it became synonymous with Prince's albums, movies, tour rehearsals and impromptu late-night concerts, other acts, including R.E.M. and Madonna recorded there before it ceased to be used as a rental facility in 1996.
In October 2016, six months after Prince's death, one of his longtime wishes was fulfilled when Paisley Park was opened to guided tours. Fans now get a chance to see the main rooms of the complex, and VIP packages offering access to other areas are available.