Prince's Legendary Paisley Park Home Will Soon be Open to the Public

It's been five months since the passing of music legend and artist Prince, but mourners still visit his Chanhassen, Minn. home every day to grieve, place flowers, photographs, personal messages, artwork and more.

Each week, volunteers dutifully gather the mementoes and store them away for safe keeping.

Those who live in the community surrounding Prince's Paisley Park home and watch this ritual take place each week, say it's obvious that the world yet to come to terms with the passing of one of the most beloved musicians and artists in modern history.

So it will likely come as welcome news to his fans that Prince's 65,000-square-foot mansion will soon be open for public tours, giving mourners another way to feel closer to the deceased icon.

The city of Chanhassen is scheduled to hold a public hearing today (September 20) to review a request from the Bremer Trust, which is the court appointed special administrator of the estate of Prince Rogers Nelson. The trust has requested that Prince's home be rezoned as a museum.

Prince's sister, Tyka Nelson, said in a statement issued by the trust that turning Paisley Park into a museum and allowing the public to visit was a longtime goal for her brother.

"Opening Paisley Park is something that Prince always wanted to do and was actively working on," Nelson said.

"Only a few hundred people have had the rare opportunity to tour the estate during his lifetime," she added. "Now fans from around the world will be able to experience Prince's world for the first time, as we open the doors to this incredible place."

A website has been established where fans can purchase tickets for the upcoming tours.

The site states that Prince's private estate and production complex will open for daily public tours starting October 6. The tours will give fans the opportunity to visit the place where Prince not only lived but also created, produced and performed. Paisley Park, located in the Minneapolis suburbs, was Prince's private sanctuary and his production complex.

Tour participants will also be able to see artifacts from Prince's personal archives including pieces from his iconic and flamboyant concert wardrobe, awards (he earned seven Grammys, a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for the film "Purple Rain"), as well as musical instruments, artwork, video recordings, automobiles and motorcycles.

Tickets, which may only be purchased online, will range in price from $38.50 for a self-guided tour, to $100 for a VIP tour that includes access to additional rooms and artifacts not available as part of the self-guided experience.

The prospect of opening of Paisley Park has received a positive reception thus far from city leaders. Chanhassen Mayor Denny Laufenburger issued a letter on August 24 in support of the plans.

"From the documents that I've seen and the conversations that I've had with family members and close friends, I believe that the plans for Paisley Park are in full accordance with Prince's wishes," Laufenburger's letter states. "Much of his vision and design activity for Paisley Park as a museum is already in place. He knew exactly how to showcase his production studio for his fans in preparation for this eventual outcome."

For some of Prince's longtime neighbors, who were fiercely protective of their hometown superstar, it all seems a little bit surreal.

Prince was beloved by his neighbors and fellow Minnesota residents. And he was famous for opening his home to the community for parties and to showcase up-and-coming musicians.

"Anybody could come to the parties, and sometimes he would make pancakes for people," recalls Naomi Thompson, a Prince neighbor for the past 15 years. "All you would have to do is follow him on Twitter and he would tweet 'Friday night pajama party.' Sometimes with just a few hours' notice."

The tweets were Prince's way of letting people know he would be opening Paisley Park for one of his legendary gatherings. Often Prince would perform at the parties. During one such gathering, he even had Madonna come out and play for the crowd, after having completed her own concert earlier in the evening in Minneapolis. Madonna arrived at Paisley Park on a bus with her crew and dancers.

"He had so many parties over the years, and concerts to shepherd new artists and give them playing time. And then Prince would get up and play," continues Thompson, a producer for a local news program. "He always opened them to the public. That's why we loved him so much."

For those planning to come tour Paisley Park, Thompson has a few more suggested stops on a Prince-themed itinerary.

Few people knew that often Prince would watch movies in the middle of the night at the Chanhassen theater across the street from Paisley Park, says Thompson.

"He would call the movie theater owner in the middle of the night and say that he and his friends wanted to see a movie and Prince would go over to the theater in his pajamas," says Thompson.

It was a tradition that carried on for 18 years. And when the artist passed away, Martin Hubbard, chief operating officer of Five Star Cinemas, which owns the Chanhassen theater, took to Facebook to say goodbye to a man who he said had been a longtime friend to the theater and its employees.

The side of that theater is now the location of a stunning 40-foot mural of Prince that was created in the months after the singer's death, by famed New Zealand artist Graham Hoete.

Another notable stop on any local Prince tour would be the legendary First Avenue nightclub in Minneapolis. Not only did Prince play at the club regularly over the years, but he also filmed numerous scenes there for the movie "Purple Rain."

The movie put the club on the map, making it one of the state's top tourist attractions for much of the 1980s. Prince's continued influence and presence over the years also made the club a place that attracted many legendary musicians.

When word of Prince's death began to spread on April 21, more than 10,000 fans lined up outside the club for an impromptu gathering in his honor.

"The streets were packed people singing Purple Rain the night he died," says Thompson. "People still come in droves. The attention and the grieving hasn't stopped five months later. He was the most famous person to ever come from Minnesota and he was very much loved. He was a rock star to everybody else, but to us he was just our neighbor."

In addition to the opening of the Paisley Park museum, Prince will be remembered and memorialized with an official family tribute concert on October 13 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, according to the press release issued by the trust. Information on concert ticket sales has not yet been released.

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