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Summit Avenue, Grand Dame of Victorian boulevards, is lined with magnificent turn-of- the-century mansions built by railroad magnates, lumber barons and captains of industry.  Great Houses of Summit Avenue and the Hill District is a celebration of these homes on St. Paul’s best-known and most beloved avenue. Extending four and a half miles high along the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River Valley, historic Summit Avenue was named one of Americas’ Great Streets.

Photographer Karen Melvin takes us along for a tour through stately mansions to view these remarkable architectural gems.    Featuring the work of notable architects including Clarence Johnston, Cass Gilbert and Alan Stem readers experience the interiors first hand, including the home of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Richly illustrated with hundreds of colorful photos and fascinating stories penned by four award winning writers, the book opens the door to more than two dozen legendary homes situated on Americas best preserved avenue from the era.   This book offers an irresistible invitation to step through the doors of these showcase homes to explain what we are all curious to know – what is going on in there?  Discover how the homeowners have restored the original grandeur and rich heritage of their homes while infusing them with new life and energy.


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For tens of thousands of Minnesotans who walk and bike and paddle around Minneapolis’s beautiful Chain of Lakes every year, the lovely homes that surround these fine city parks are as intriguing as the exquisite views of open space and sparkling water. Legendary Homes of the Minneapolis Lakes invites readers inside twenty-eight of the most architecturally significant dwellings.

In these pages, photographer Karen Melvin and architectural writer Bette Hammel turn their attention to the finest homes around Lake of the Isles, Cedar Lake, Lake Calhoun, and Lake Harriet. Generous homeowners have opened their doors and shared the stories of construction, renovation, and interior design. Featured architects include Harry Wild Jones, Purcell and Elmslie, Edwin Lundie, Close and Associates, Vincent James, and David Salmela.

From the Italianate entryway of the Martin House to the whimsical living room of the Kaufman/Lacey House; from the Arts and Crafts kitchen of the Smith/Liepke House to the Rand/McGlynn Phelps House’s stunning formal dining room, Legendary Homes of the Minneapolis Lakes offers views of interest to all. This lavishly illustrated and informative book answers the lake walker’s burning question: I wonder what it’s like in there.


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Hundreds of cottages and cabins, mansions and houses line the shores of Lake Minnetonka, one of Minnesota's most beautiful lakes and site of the state's most coveted properties. Legendary Homes of Lake Minnetonka invites readers into thirty of these dwellings–built by families like the Washburns, Pillsburys, and Daytons.

Evocative words and stunning color photographs guide readers through these beautifully designed and furnished homes. Portrayed in elegant detail are interiors of renovated Victorian cottages and rustic cabins, as well as those of houses designed by modernist masters like William Lescaze and Philip Johnson. Photographer Karen Melvin takes viewers through the front door, showing living rooms furnished with Mies van der Rohe couches and chairs designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and walls adorned with works by Robert Motherwell and Damien Hirst. Author Bette Jones Hammel relates the homes' histories of ownership and details the many renovations they have seen over time, renovations that have attempted to retain the homes' character and extend their lifespan.

For the best views of the exteriors of these homes, you would need a boat. To see the interiors, you would need an invitation. Hammel and Melvin have chosen the most interesting houses–both architecturally and historically–and painstakingly scouted out the best vantage points, both inside and out, to provide a personal tour of these spectacular homes.