Q & A with M. Caren Connolly & Louis Wasserman
Wisconsin Historical Society Press: What are the origins of this project?
Connolly and Wasserman: The Jeffris Family Foundation supported the research and production of this book. It is the Foundation's mission to support the architectural treasures of Wisconsin, particularly in small towns. Foundation President Tom Jeffris wanted us to create a book that would be of interest to citizens of Wisconsin and all folks interested in architectural history. He wanted us to help put Wisconsin on the map — architecturally speaking.
WHS Press: Why, in a nutshell, have the homes included in "Wisconsin's Own" survived when other historic homes have been demolished?
C & W: Good design is flexible and recognizable. Many people understand that good architecture matters, and has a strong cultural influence. Some of these people have the means to invest and share their vision, intelligence, expertise, time, and money to saving older buildings.
WHS Press: Frank Lloyd Wright is represented by Wingspread — why not one of the other Frank Lloyd Wright houses?
C & W: It is surprising how little is written about Wingspread, considering there are over 200 books written about Frank Lloyd Wright and his work. Wingspread was designed about the same time as Fallingwater and they represent two of his largest residential commissions.
WHS Press: Why was the cut off date for included homes 1939?
C & W: Technically, a house can be considered historic after 50 years. But we were interested in stopping at a point in history before World War II. So many changes in residential design occurred after World War II that that era deserves its own examination.
WHS Press: Is there a house you wanted to include but didn't?
C & W: Yes, there were 100's! We would have been happy to write about any of the 72 finalists. But we think we chose the twenty that most tightly fit the criteria that we developed. That criteria was that the house tell an interesting story in which the main characters were the architecture, the site, the architect or builder, the homeowner, and the current events of the day.