Anniversary present for USF dean brings Lego version of Brookside to campus

October 13, 2021

Robert Geyer kept his University of Saint Francis-inspired Lego wedding anniversary present for his wife a secret for two years. Then the secret became too big to hide.

A nearly 64,000-piece Lego version of USF’s Brookside mansion finally made its way to on campus—as Robert’s gift for his wife, Dr. Andrea Geyer, Dean of the USF College of Arts, Sciences and Business. The Lego Brookside resides in the Welcome Center, across Spring Street from the real Brookside.

“I was hoping to keep it a surprise until it arrived in Fort Wayne,” Robert said.

“He had to tell me because we needed to find it a home,” Andrea said. “He was bringing me lunch one day and showed me a printed copy of it. I was so overwhelmed, he got silence from me. Then I thought, ‘Where am I going to put that?’ It’s too big for my office.”

Andrea brainstormed some locations and arranged with Institutional Advancement for the Lego replica to reside in the Welcome Center. The massive Lego Brookside, commissioned by Robert and designed by Lego master Jason Pyett, can be enjoyed by many in its new home. Pyett explained the process of building the Lego Brookside in this Saltwire story. The replica was originally scheduled to make its Fort Wayne debut at the Brickworld event on Oct. 9 and 10 at Memorial Coliseum, but customs workers damaged the structure and Pyett spent several hours fixing it over the weekend. Pyett detailed the arduous journey in an interview with The Journal Gazette.

For the Geyers, the Lego Brookside reflects their love for USF and the community of students, faculty and staff. The Geyers are Fort Wayne natives and Andrea is in her 12th year with USF.

“The impact Saint Francis has had on our family extends beyond my career,” Andrea said. “Sister Carol (Meyers, retired USF professor) is the godmother of our youngest child. Saint Francis has played such an important role in our lives.”

Robert and the couple’s four children have long been fans of Legos, and the family worked together on a massive Lego version of Hogwarts, inspired by the Harry Potter books and films. “They are the true lovers of Legos, but it’s a family event for us, spending time together,” Andrea said. “We spent about 20 hours with the kids building Hogwarts.”

Robert faced a challenge in keeping his plan a secret for two years. The only person on campus who knew about it was USF Creative Arts Executive Director Colleen Huddleson, who helped Robert in obtaining some particulars about Brookside.

“I knew he was up to something, but I’ve also learned not to dig,” Andrea said.

Since word spread about the project, interest has come from far-reaching places such as Italy and Brazil.

“It’s cool that is has reached so many different people around the globe,” Robert said. “It’s interesting to see the reactions as more people see it.”

Andrea’s reaction—speechlessness at the size and scope of the heartfelt gift—remains unlikely to be topped.

Photos by Hannah Fowerbaugh