Praise for "Wisconsin's Own"
Richard Moe, President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation
"In a very real sense, history is just stories about people. This marvelous book uses stories about people — where they came from, what they believed in, what they dreamed of, and especially what kind of homes they built — to present a compelling history of a special part of America. From a quirky octagon of the 1850s to an Art Moderne marvel of the 1930s, the houses on these pages remind us of the richness of Wisconsin’s heritage — and the importance of keeping it intact and alive."
Mary Van de Kamp Nohl, "Milwaukee Magazine"
"'Wisconsin's Own: Twenty Remarkable Homes' is so visually and intellectually stunning that you can forget the iPad or Kindle. You'll want to hold this exhaustively researched book in your hands. It's easy to lose hours savoring the photos, detailed historic images and informative text. Many people think the state's architectural legacy begins and ends with Frank Lloyd Wright. Milwaukee architects-cum-authors M. Caren Connolly and Louis Wasserman prove them wrong. They studied 1,500 residences to produce this private tour of the state's 20 most architecturally and historically significant homes. The pedigrees of these homes — built between 1854 and 1939 — derive from the industrial magnates and celebrities who once owned them. A must-see for lovers of historic homes."
"The domiciles are artfully yet simply represented with 380 color and black-and-white images. The book is highly readable from cover to cover but will also offer new information and inspiration to readers who wish to browse. Sidebars provide concise answers to questions about architectural styles and architects. Beautiful images of the homes, their rooms, and architectural details can be found on every page."
Jim Higgins, "Milwaukee Journal Sentinel"
"A richly detailed, generously illustrated study of historic, opulent Wisconsin homes. This is not a pretty coffee-table book. With its clear, intelligent essays and color photography, it is the hardbound equivalent of a friendly and knowing docent walk through these mansions."
Katie Ginther, "Wisconsin People and Ideas" magazine
"Within the eclectic mix of personal stories of homeowners and the catalogue of historical preservation efforts are breathtaking shots that invite readers to explore the homes almost as if they were visitors, passing from room to room. Exterior and interior photographs taken from unique perspectives — coupled with detailed and colorful renderings of elevations, floor plans from the authors, and historical images — give the reader a thorough understanding of the home from the original owner's vision to its current incarnation today. Throughout the book, standard guides to key architectural styles serve as points of comparison to the owners' take on historic styles, highlighting how individual taste and culture shape residential architecture."
Kara Mason, ForeWord Reviews book feature October 2010
Architects M. Caren Connolly and Louis Wasserman, authors of Updating Classic America: Bungalows and several other illustrated books, teamed up with the Wisconsin Historical Society to choose twenty homes that represent the rich and varied history of Wisconsin architecture from 1854 to 1939. Each of these indeed remarkable homes is presented in detail with stunning color illustrations, which include Zane Williams’s new photography of each impeccably preserved site, historical photographs of the homes from the time of their first residents, maps, and exquisite full--color elevations and plans handdrawn by Connolly and Wasserman. The drawings are so impressive-serving both as nuggets of information and tiny works of art--that one is grateful for and delighted by the appendix that describes the authors’ drawing process in full detail.
The images alone that grace "Wisconsin’s Own" are enough to keep this book placed prominently on the coffee table, but the illuminating, well-researched, and pleasantly narrative text will keep readers from simply flipping through it like a picture book. The book begins with the story of the Octagon House, designed and built in 1854 by John Richards as a promise to his East Coast–bred wife that he would build her the “finest and most modern house in the Wisconsin Territory.” The authors bring to life the couple’s move to the Midwest, the process of building the house, and the unique advantages of the octagonal floor plan, which was popularized for a short time during that period befo re largely dying out. Due to the careful specifics of the home’s interior, Mrs. Richards could bake twenty- four loaves of bread at once in the large Dutch oven. The innovative use of air flow throughout the house and at the top of the cupola (located in the center of the octagon plan) allowed for an advanced central heating and cooling system to respond to the disparate Wisconsin weather year-round. The level of detail provided about the house itself and the rich history of its building are captivating.
Each of the twenty homes featured in the book receives the same treatment, with some stories more tragic than others, and some architect-client relationships more controversial than others. And since the homes span nearly one hundred years of architectural history, many different styles, architectural icons (including Frank Lloyd Wright), and individual stories emerge. The innovation, beauty, hardship, missteps, and accomplishment inherent to these stories lend the book a great appeal to general readers, history and architecture buffs, and fans of Wisconsin lore. The quality of the production and the excellence of the artwork also elevate the book to the category of book-as-art object: a beautiful addition to any curious reader’s library.
Valerie Nye, "Library Journal" September 15, 2010"
Connolly and Wasserman (principals at the Milwaukee architecture firm Louis Wasserman & Associates) have cowritten three books on residential architecture (e.g., Cottage: America's Favorite Home Inside and Out). In preparation for this new volume, they worked with the Wisconsin Historical Society to select 20 beautiful and historically significant homes built in Wisconsin between 1854 and 1939. The homes range from prairie style to Queen Anne to art moderne and represent a diversity of geographical locations throughout the state. The domiciles are artfully yet simply represented with 380 color and black-and- white images. The book is highly readable from cover to cover but will also offer new information and inspiration to readers who wish to browse. Sidebars provide concise answers to questions about architectural styles and architects. Beautiful images of the homes, their rooms, and architectural details can be found on every page. VERDICT Primarily of regional interest, this nonetheless is highly accessible and recommended for art and architecture students from high school through college. The authors have a distinctive manner of adding lively historical context to each home's history, so architecture enthusiasts will also find something new here.
This review by Jim Higgins appeared in the "Milwaukee Journal Sentinel" on Saturday, September 11, 2010
Authors offer glimpses of some of area's most opulent homes
If someone on your gift list loves stately homes, architecture and Wisconsin history, your shopping is nearly done.
"Wisconsin's Own: Twenty Remarkable Homes" (Wisconsin Historical Society Press, $45), from author-illustrators M. Caren Connolly and Louis Wasserman and photographer Zane Williams, is a richly detailed, generously illustrated study of historic, opulent Wisconsin homes.
This is not a pretty coffee-table book. With its clear, intelligent essays and color photography, it is the hardbound equivalent of a friendly and knowing docent walk through these manses.
Wasserman, an architect, and Connolly, a landscape architect, will talk about "Wisconsin's Own" on Thursday at one of the homes, the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, 2220 N. Terrace Ave. They remind us that Villa Terrace (1923) "is an elegant interpretation of a 16th-century northern Italian villa," which Chicago-based architect David Adler designed for industrialist Lloyd R. Smith, of the A.O. Smith family.
The book's Villa Terrace chapter gives the back story of both client and architect, with insights on how those stories combined to produce the gorgeous house. They even tell readers what an Edith Wharton book in Adler's library had to do with the building seen today. Interior and exterior photos, some historical, plus architectural illustrations, combine for an unhurried view of the home.
Eight of the 20 homes are in the Milwaukee area, with several others within easy driving distance in Watertown, Kohler and Madison. Some have been repurposed as museums, such as Ten Chimneys in Genesee Depot and the Captain Frederick Pabst Mansion in Milwaukee, while others are private and rarely open to the public.
The homes the authors selected were constructed from 1854 to 1939 and embody a range of architectural styles, including Queen Anne, Art Modern, Arts & Crafts, Flemish Renaissance Revival, octagon and North Woods.
This feature by Chris Martell appeared in the "Wisconsin State Journal" on Sunday, September 12, 2010
Still standing: Book details the remarkable journey of 20 old Wisconsin homes
Every now and then, we see an old house that makes us stop, stare and wonder. Who built that grand home, and what happened there over the decades? Why is it still standing, when so many other magnificent homes were torn down to make way for development?
In a new book, "Wisconsin's Own: Twenty Remarkable Homes," published by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press, some of those stories are told.
The book's authors, Milwaukee architects M. Caren Connolly and Louis Wasserman, along with WHS staffers, researched 1,500 significant Wisconsin houses for possible inclusion in the book.
They wanted to feature homes from different periods and architectural styles from all over the state. And, they looked for interesting tales. The residences they chose were built between 1854 and 1939.
Many of the stories are about survival.
The Pabst Mansion in Milwaukee, for one, was "minutes away from the wrecking ball," Connolly said, but is now a house museum and one of the city's major attractions.
A mansion in the North Woods that had been abandoned, vandalized and strewn with deer carcasses by hunters is now, after 14 years of restoration, an elegant private home.
The cupola and porch on the 1884-85 Allyn Mansion, on Delavan's East Walworth Avenue, were torn off during its years as a nursing home and furniture store. Now surrounded by businesses, it was painstakingly restored by its current owners over the course of 20 years. Its cupola adorns the cover of the book.
The lengthiest restoration effort involves the House of Seven Gables, a Gothic Revival "cottage" built in Baraboo in 1860, which began when the owners moved in as newlyweds more than 40 years ago.
"They taught themselves how to do everything for the house, like wood graining, and they're still at it," Connolly said. "It becomes a lifestyle for a lot of people." Frank Lloyd Wright, of course, can't be overlooked in a book about Wisconsin architecture. Wright said that Wingspread, built from 1936 to 1939 in Wind Point for the Johnson family, was his greatest residential design.
And a house that Wright's mentor Louis Sullivan designed, the 1909 Bradley House, is the sole Madison residence included in the book. It's now home to the Sigma Phi fraternity.