And--for now--part the last.
Once There Were Castles by Larry Millett. Oh, what a luxuriously gorgeous book this is. It'd be a shame to classify it as either history or architecture, because for many people (um, me) that might make it sound dry. Instead, this is a sumptuous, wallow-around-in-it kind of book, especially if you're a fan of old-style mansions from long ago. I am; I love any excuse to drive along Summit Avenue in St. Paul and various spots in Minneapolis, seeing the grand dames of great days gone by. But I never realized how many more there were, once upon a time, until I had a chance to peruse this coffee-table-sized book.
Author Millett has done considerable research, learning about these lost mansions, who they belonged to, and why they're gone. It's not always a case of "knock down the house to build something modern." Sometimes houses were torn down to build even bigger houses; sometimes they were moved when owners decided to use that particular piece of property for other reasons, such as commercial.
Plus there are the architectural oddities: who knew that octagon-shaped houses were once in fashion?
But this book is really enhanced by the photographic evidence. Those of my readers who have been to Seven Corners in St. Paul, does this look even remotely familiar?
Look carefully--towards the back, you can see the beginning of mansions on the bluffs.
How's this for a ballroom, in the Gillette House, formerly of Minneapolis:
I think it's safe to say that the corner of 39th and Bryant Ave So in Minneapolis doesn't look a thing like this anymore.
This is a lovely book, not one you sit down and read straight through, but one you're proud to have on display and can dip into any time you need a break from current times. It's ideal for people interested in local history or people anywhere interested in long-gone home architecture, or for anyone who just likes to imagine life long ago.
My thanks to the University of MN Press for sending me a review copy.