CMLE Reads Across MN: Minnesota’s Own

Minnesota’s Own: Preserving our Grand Homes, by Larry Millett

Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes, and it also has many interesting books. In this series, we are sharing some of the books we like from Minnesota, or Minnesota authors.

We are mapping our literary journey around Minnesota, so you can see all the interesting places where our books are set. Follow our progress on our Google Map, accessible by clicking that link or searching for the title CMLE Reads Across Minnesota! (We are locating this book in Duluth, for the arbitrary reason that I’ve been to Glensheen, which is the concluding chapter of this book.)

One of the most fun things about this series is discovering some of the fun new Minnesota books I didn’t know about; so thank you to everyone who is sending in suggestions!! This week’s book is another suggestion from a library person, and it is really fun! Post suggestions below, or email them in to us.

I love to look at old houses, and of course it’s always fun to see huge, beautiful homes we will never own but are important parts of the culture of an area. This book looks at 22 houses – not necessarily  the “best” in the state (how could you even decide that?) but definitely among the best of mansions you can see in Minnesota.

Each house is a separate chapter, loaded with beautiful photos of the interior and exteriors. There is information about the history of the house, how it was built, and the families who lived in the homes.

Many are located in Minneapolis, St. Paul, or areas around them. The David Park House in Bemidji is featured, along with the George Draper Dayton House in Worthington, Quarry Hill in Rochester, and the William Windom/Abner Hodgins House in Winona.

I definitely enjoyed reading the final chapter, on Glensheen in Duluth. At the 2016 MLA, we were fortunate to have a private event at the lovely Glensheen – my first visit. If you were there, you remember how nice that was; and if you have visited it at other times, you know how lovely the house is.  And if you have not yet had a chance to go – do it!

You may not be able to tour all these homes, but you can enjoy reading this book and seeing how lovely they are! (And, at this time of year, I feel so grateful to not have to pay to heat these huge spaces! Reading about it is much easier and more fun.)

Description from Amazon:

“Stripped of its original Tiffany light fixtures, lamps, and stained-glass panels, a Lowry Hill mansion was returned to its original grandeur after an owner bought back many of these furnishings. A family in Winona has spent three decades slowly uncovering a landmark Victorian’s hidden beauty. Minneapolis graphic designers have meticulously restored a Frank Lloyd Wright gem, even fabricating never-before-built cabinets, furniture, and rugs Wright originally designed for the home.

In Lost Twin Cities and Once There Were Castles, Larry Millett retrieved Twin Cities architecture vanished in time, giving us a view into buildings and homes lost to demolition, accident, and neglect. In Minnesota’s Own, he and photographer Matt Schmitt invite us into homes from across the state that have been lovingly preserved, saved so that they can remain jewels among the state’s living architecture.

From Duluth to Bemidji, Red Wing to the Twin Cities, Millett and Schmitt travel throughout Minnesota, highlighting homes designed by architects such as Edwin Lundie, Frank Lloyd Wright, and William Purcell and George Elmslie and with sumptuous ornamentation by local craftspeople including interior decorator John Bradstreet and woodcarver Johannes Kirchmayer. Homes originally owned by Daytons, Hills, and Ramseys find themselves in new hands that have taken great care in their upkeep and preservation.

Minnesota’s Own welcomes readers into twenty-two of these homes through over two hundred color photographs and Millett’s captivating stories of their construction, original owners, and restorations.”