SAH Wisconsin Building Survey

(c) Mark Hertzberg

The University of Virginia Press has released the 13th volume in its “Buildings of the United States” series from the Society of Architectural Historians, “Buildings of Wisconsin.” The book is a wonderful survey of Wisconsin architecture, grouped by county. There are more than 750 entries over almost 500 pages.

BUS_Wisconsin_cover.jpg

I wish there were more photos, but including more illustrations may have driven the cost considerably past the $85 price.

The books in the series are valuable reference volumes. Although the book is by distinguished scholars, and editors worked meticulously on entries (I was consulted in a lengthy series of emails on the entry for Frank Lloyd Wright’s Thomas P. Hardy House in Racine to ensure its accuracy, and my photo of the house is on the back cover), but there are regrettably some errors regarding other houses I am personally familiar with. Scholarship evolves, and that is the case here. The Press has responded positively and quickly, not defensively, when I pointed these errors out, and invited me to sign off on corrections for future editions.

Some of the errors involved Wright’s homes on Delavan Lake, based in good faith on previous material published some years ago. I have been researching the homes for almost four years in preparation for the publication late next year by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press of my book about Penwern, Wright’s estate on the lake for Fred B. Jones.

I’ve pointed out to the editors that Penwern is Welsh, not Gaelic, and does not mean “great house.” The Welsh translates roughly to “at the head of the alder tree,” but the name more likely refers to a Welsh cottage of roughly the same name that Wright’s maternal grandmother emigrated from (I wrote about this in a previous post,

https://wordpress.com/post/wrightinracine.wordpress.com/1767 ). The two additions to the main house date to 1909/10, not the 1920s, and had nothing to do with either of Jones’ grandmothers who predeceased the estate. Concerning the Wallis-GoodSmith (not Goodsmith) house, Wallis did not sell the house to the GoodSmith brothers ca. 1900 because of his daughter’s death; she died in the 1920s. Finally, Edgar Tafel’s Robert and Rita Albert House was his first private commission, executed while he was a member of the Taliesin Fellowship, but not done for the Fellowship.

Circumstances have put me in a great time bind at present, which precludes me from writing my own summary of the book. I’m taking a short-cut and letting UVA Press tell its story through the information on their website, http://www.upress.virginia.edu/title/3968

If Wisconsin’s rich architectural history does not interest you, by all means look at other titles in the series, http://www.upress.virginia.edu/search-site?f[0]=field_subject_term%3A10052&f[1]=field_series_term%3A10710

There is also a broad survey available to subscribe to at: http://sah-archipedia.org

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