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Minnesota Modern

Architecture and Life at Midcentury

2015
Author:

Larry Millett
Photography by Denes Saari and Maria Forrai Saari

Minnesota Modern

An expert, illustrated guide through the style that defined midcentury Minnesota

Larry Millett conducts an eye-opening, spectacularly illustrated Minnesota tour of the rich and varied landscape of midcentury modernism. A history lesson as entertaining as it is enlightening, Minnesota Modern provides a close-up view of a style that penetrated the social, political, and cultural machinery of the times.

An entertaining and beautifully illustrated stroll through an era.

Rochester Post-Bulletin

From the genteel elegance of Christ Lutheran Church in Minneapolis to the lowbrow wonder of Porky's Drive-in in St. Paul, the Twin Cities and other Minnesota communities are nothing short of a living museum of midcentury modernism, the new style of architecture that swept through much of America from 1945 to the mid-1960s. Renowned Minnesota architecture critic and historian Larry Millett conducts an eye-opening, spectacularly illustrated tour of this rich and varied landscape.

A history lesson as entertaining as it is enlightening, Minnesota Modern provides a close-up view of a style that penetrated the social, political, and cultural machinery of the times. Extending from modest suburban ramblers and ranch houses to the grandest public and commercial structures, midcentury modernism expressed new ways of thinking about how to live, work, and play in communities that sprang up as thousands of military members returned from World War II. Millett describes the style’s sources in the work of European masters like Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius, as well as the midwestern innovations of Frank Lloyd Wright, and its refinement at the University of Minnesota under the guidance of Ralph Rapson and other modernists. He shows us its applications in twelve midcentury homes in Minnesota and takes us through its many permutations in sites as different as Barry Byrne’s St. Columba Catholic Church in St. Paul and Eero Saarinen’s sprawling IBM complex in Rochester. This is Minnesota modern at its historic best, a firsthand, in-depth history of a singularly American sensibility and aesthetic writ large on the midwestern region.

Awards

Minnesota Book Award winner

Minnesota Modern

Larry Millett, a Minneapolis native, spent much of his career as a writer, reporter, and editor for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. In 1985 he became the newspaper’s first architecture critic, a post he held until his retirement in 2002. His many books include Minnesota’s Own: Preserving Our Grand Homes and Once There Were Castles: Lost Mansions and Estates of the Twin Cities (Minnesota, 2011).

Minnesota Modern

An entertaining and beautifully illustrated stroll through an era.

Rochester Post-Bulletin

It is possible that an old house or building still stands in your neighborhood because Larry Millett influenced someone to save it. The architectural historian’s work catalogs the many architectural treasures Minnesota has lost to the wrecking ball and inspires a preservation movement determined to hang on to the ones we have left.

MinnPost

Millett has created the definitive book on the midcentury era in Minnesota, including residential, public and commercial designs.

MinnPost

I found Larry Millett's new book Minnesota Modern. . . an engrossing account of our social and cultural past. And a wonderful tour of the enviable midcentury residences around us.

Chris Lee, Midwest Home

Minnesota Modern

Contents

Prologue: A New World

1. The Modern Age

Midcentury Modern Houses, 1938–1950
Benjamin and Gertrude Lippincott House
Gerald and Ruth Buetow House
Dr. Clarence E. and Ruth Arlander House

2. Corporations and Commerce

Midcentury Modern Houses, 1952–1954
S. Pearl and Millicent Elam House
Dr. Harvey Nelson House

3. Entertaining on the Road

Midcentury Modern Houses, 1955
Donald and Hilda Haarstick House
June Halvorson Alworth (later June and Robert Starkey) House

4. Architecture of the Public Realm

Midcentury Modern Houses, 1956–1957
George and Annirene Buck House
William and Frances Shepherd House

5. Modern Faith

Midcentury Modern Houses, 1958–1961
Alcoa “Care-free” House
Benjamin Gingold House
Richard and Dorothy Babcock House

6. The Midcentury Home

Epilogue: The Midcentury Legacy

Acknowledgments
Notes
Index