German – WELT – Feature

Thank-you WELT for the feature article this weekend, we are so thankful for the interest our prefabricated house is receiving from around the globe. WELT – originally called “Die Welt was founded in Hamburg in 1946 by the British occupying forces, aiming to provide a “quality newspaper” modelled on The Times”. It is a large german publication, and has been recognized as recognized as one of the “World’s Best-Designed Newspapers” by the Society for News Design. We feel honored for the featured.

Here is a google translate of the article …. not sure if it is correct … but here goes:

Homestory: Preserving Instead of Modernizing – A House Like a Time Capsule

Black grids, rectangular areas of color in red, blue or yellow: when you first see the rows of cubes between the large, shady deciduous trees, you inevitably think of the abstract works of Piet Mondrian.

He led the art people art people into the promised land of abstraction

But this is not about Dutch art, but about American design – and legendary: The so-called “Frost House”, a stone’s throw from Lake Michigan, is one of the rare so-called “Modular Houses”, a prefabricated house from the 1960s years. The special thing about it: The modern construction – consisting of a steel framework, in which glass walls and aluminum plates were used – can be put together in a very short time.

All the more beautiful that the house, named after the original owners Dr. Robert and Amelia Frost, preserved today in its original condition. The new residents, Karen Valentine and Bob Coscarelli, including their dog Banksy, who bought the house in 2016, have at least made it their mission to keep the charm of the house after their purchase, rather than modernizing it.

In particular, they fell in love with the original furnishings, which fortunately were still completely intact. The entire furniture was designed by interior designer Paul McCobb in cooperation with the world-famous furniture brand Knoll. Bob Coscarelli can still remember his first visit. Before he looked at the rooms, he turned the furniture around and saw all the Knoll stickers: “That was a great feeling, because I knew that Knoll had installed the furniture there as well. It felt like a time machine. ”

Accordingly, the two dealt with this legacy carefully: “We felt obliged to leave the pieces as far as possible in their original environment,” says Coscarelli, only a few private pieces and a few Knoll new acquisitions have added them to the collection.

And so the house still breathes the spirit of the no frills midcentury design and revives in the mind’s eye directly the time of the A-line dresses, suede miniskirts and pixie cuts: In the living room soft earth tones harmonize in carpets and built in wardrobes. In one corner stands a cognac-colored leather “Womb Chair” with matching ottoman by Eero Saarinen.

Another mid-century dream

An expressive contrast is the canary-yellow and co-lime-blue laminated cupboards, which are embedded in the walls in the other rooms. Small splashes of color in orange and green tones balance the heaviness of the partly wood-paneled walls. In the dining room “Tulip Chairs” are grouped around an oval table with walnut wood top and in the office there is finally a simple desk with the “Number 9” lamp by designer Isamu Noguchi, in front of it a Bertoia “Side Chair”.

In addition, the new owners started to research. At first, they did not know much about the exact genesis of the house. Only through magazine contributions and brochures did they finally learn that this was a design by Emil Tessin, Vice President and Chief Designer of Alside Homes Corp. from Ohio. In the hope that the project would quickly make school, it was patented by the manufacturer at that time. 200 homes per day should leave the company headquarters, that was at least the ambitious, self-imposed goal in an old company brochure; in fact, in the end, only a handful was built, as Valentine found out.

Karen Valentine and Bob Coscarelli have made a name for themselves with their love of detailing history. On the associated website and an Instagram profile, they provide insight into the latest findings of their gradual review of the past.

More design stories can be found under the name ICONISTdesign on Facebook and Instagram.

Alside HQ

Our friend Tim Hills of Tryscraft was doing some research and came across this gem of an article, on Alside Homes and Emil Tessin, teaching us that Emil has other buildings out there in the wild.

What is so fantastic, is to learn that Emil Tessin designed the incredible Alside HQ that is still standing in Ohio today. There have been some modifications to the building, but it is a very handsome piece of architecture.

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It is unfortunate to read that Jerome Kaufman and Emil had some disagreements over the design, and was likely the start of the demise of their relationship. I wonder what really happened to prevent the design from being completed as Emil intended.

Here is a picture of the HQ shortly after completion ….

Here are some images from google earth of the building today.

The Design Files – Australia

Thank-you ‘The Design Files’ for breaking your own rules to feature our little house [a non-Australian home] on your ever stylish pages. We often refer to our house as the IKEA version of the Farnsworth House. Our prefabricated home was meant to be affordable design for everyday living. It is not meant to be the fanciest house, just good design that made living simple and easy, and in a eye-pleasing package. Every-time the Frost House is featured we are so humbled to be gracing the line-up of incredible homes that are insane eye-candy, with equally creative residents. So thank-you for sharing our story, and our home, and most importantly for thinking it was worthy of putting it in front of your design conscious readers.

To view the complete story click here.

Point-in-time: January 2017

Pure magic. We couldn’t wait to see what the house looked like under a blanket of deep fluffy snow, and we were not disappointed. With floor to ceiling glass panels, the snow gently piled up the sides, and as we sat toasty warm inside feeling like we were in a snow globe.

Banksy our dog was also delighted at the experience, after all snow is his favorite form of weather. It was hard to keep him inside.

Oh! don’t mind out new fence, we will be painting it black in the spring and adding new plantings to the garden beds, planning is in the works.

Although we love the garden, and enjoying time in the screened porch – what we call the ‘aviary’, we really were hoping for a few more snow days than what we have received two far this season. Bring back our ‘snow globe effect’ – just one more time – pleeeease!

Alside Homes – Where are they?

NOTE: Since writing this blog post we have found many more homes. For the latest listings click here.

This advertisement that we found for Alside homes in a newspaper online is fabulous. It claims that if you live in an Alside Home it will save your marriage and make you happy. The article states – “How to be happy, even though you’re married. Buy and Alside home … We won’t go so far as to say that Alside Homes will revolutionize your married life exactly. But they do create the kind of climate good marriages thrive on.” We would have to say that statement has some truth.

Anyway these articles appeared in many newspapers across the mid-west and east coast. The only thing that changed was the authorized builders name. These advertisements are helping us locate other Alside homes that are still around. That and some sleuth work from friends of ‘The Frost House’ – like Trystcraft a purveyor of fabulous mid-century furniture finds [a million thanks]. Here are a few other examples in print:

SO WHERE ARE THEY? 
We are currently at a count of (9) (11) (12) (15) seventeen (17) [update 07-21-17] Alside homes, with 16 still standing, as one lost to a fire.  The homes are stretched across Seven [7] states we have found: six (6) in Illinois; three (3) in Indiana; one (1) in Maryland; three (3) in Michigan; one (1) in Ohio [were Alside was based]; two (2) in Pennsylvania; and one (1) in New York. According to a House & Home article talking about the demise of Alside Homes Corp. that was published in Sept 1964 on page 17 we believe there were 94 built [thanks ModernSTL for tip-off]. So that is 17 down and 77 to go.

Anyway here are the images we have been able to find, via google or real-estate listings:

ILLINOIS (6) 

The below listing was also provided by Trystcraft, they came across this listing when moving to the Mid-West and looking for a mid-century home. The kitchen, and many aspects of this house are similar to ours. It is a 2 story home with a fabulous entry area. The colors are more muted than our home, and we can now confirm that our bathrooms have had an extra cabinet added above the sinks, which we suspected.

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This house [seen below] is also a pitched roof version, and was sold in 2015. We are hoping to get to visit this one in person soon as we have connected with the home owner.

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The following images are of three Alside homes clustered together in Urbana. The directly below has had some major renovations and modernization. It appears to be similar to our floor plan, with some additions made above the garage and altered roofline to increase the ceiling height inside. We would love to see these in person.

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Here is a two stored version with the original color [we are guessing] on the panel. We really do like this muted yellow, it is more like the yellow that is in our kitchen vs. the sunshine bright yellow exterior of our house, that continues into the master bedroom and bathroom, along with the guest bedroom.

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We did connect with the owner of this one via Instagram. Apparently it was once a duplex with two separate addresses and entrances. The owner shared some Flickr photos, and it has some lovely original baked enamel panels in a burnt orange.

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Right around the corner from the above three homes is yet another Alside, Urbana is a ‘hot-bed’ for these homes, I would love to discover who the builder is, they appear to have had some luck with getting these pre-fab homes some and built. We received an email from the homeowners about this one and they provided the photographs. Thanks for the tip, and so great to connect with other Alside homeowners. This one is hard to determine what model it original was, as it has had some renovations done to it over the years. What is interesting about this, is neighbors claim it was built in 1967, although Alside went out of business in 1963, this could have been some repurchase panels that didn’t get built right away – would love to know more.

INDIANA (3) 

This is our neighbor, it is another pitched roof version, that has been painted and an addition added to the back, but has the original windows, along with most of the bathroom fixtures.

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And this is our other neighbor, another pitched roof version, it looks similar to the one in Akron, Ohio and in Kankakee, Illinois. It comes with 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, as it has a finished basement. It also has an in-ground pool surrounded by a glass fence. The kitchen and bathrooms have been remodeled, yet they have the original windows and fireplace.

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MICHIGAN (3) 

This one we found through some old newspaper ads for Alside Homes. The address for the model was listed in the Port Huron Newspaper from 1960 and the minute we googled it – it popped up. What this image doesn’t show is that it sits right on the water and is a short swim to Canada.

Someone on Facebook was friends with the family that once owned this number in Grand Blanc. It is our model flipped and with some modifications to the roof due to leaks, and an extension looks like it has been added on too.

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This listing was also brought to our attention by Trystcraft [the crafty sleuth]. It is a beauty. I think they may have painted over the walnut veneer panels and the kitchen cabinets, but lots of original elements, including the same light fixture as us over the dining table, and let’s talk about that inviting pool. And interestingly enough, this one has operating windows and sliding doors..

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MARYLAND (1) 

The most recent find [March 8th 2017] is another pitched roof version, and appears to be two stories / split level. This was found by researching newspapers.com for articles / advertisements for Alside Homes. The sales model was added in 1963, and here it is still standing today with a fabulous collection of classic cars.

NEW YORK (1) 

With the Frost House appearing in Dwell we received a few emails giving us tips to Alside homes. This one came from someone who as a child had admire the home, and even contemplated buying it as an adult, they lived behind the house. It is a similar style to our model – flat roof and similar layout.

OHIO (1) 

First off, this pitched roof version [seen below] is what we believe to be one of the first homes built. Likely in 1961-1962, this location was referenced as the show house and was found through google street view.

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PENNSYLVANIA (2) 

These two also came to us as a result of the Frost House appearing in Dwell. A realtor gave us the address and details to these two listings. They were both in the same area, and we say were, as one burned down recently. The first home that is still standing has been changed dramatically, with brick veneer added and vinyl siding to the exterior. The interior built-in units and kitchen cabinets have been victims to the DIYer. The home that burned to the ground, had our kitchen and a single section of the bookshelves in the living room [oh if we could have had  saved elements for spare parts for our home].

DO YOU KNOW OF ANY ALSIDE HOMES?
If you come across any Alside Pre-Fabs please let us know by sending an email to info[at]thefrosthouse[dot]com. We would love to learn if there are more of these houses around the country. We believe that they sold somewhere around 200 homes, but don’t think that many were actually built.

We are keeping our eyes peeled for more …..

UPDATES:
February-28-2017 – Two (2) additional homes found in Urbana IL
March-07-2017 – One (1) Sales model located still standing and occupied in LaVale MD
June-22-2017 – Two (2) additional homes found in Meadville PA & One (1) in Kingston NY
July-16-2017 – One (1) additional home was located in Urbana IL
July 21st-2017 – One (1) additional homes was found in Algonac MI

Emil Tessin – The Story

 

We have been doing some research on Emil Tessin trying to find out some more details on his background and life story. Where did he come from? Where did he go? We are curious to learn more about this man and what became of him and his career.

This is a timeline of what we have been able to find out so far in a brief timeline:

  • July 21th 1931: Born in Saginaw, Saginaw County, Michigan, USA. He was the child of Emil Albert Tessin (1891 – 1956) and Mary Lucille Quinn Tessin (1896 – 1958). He had one brother Maurice Quinn Tessin (1927 – 2006).
  • June 12th 1953: Graduated from MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology], he received the Bachelor of Science in Building Engineering and Construction. [Verified by MIT Office of the Registrar].
  • July 25th 1953: Married to Florence Louise Crowther of Jamaica Estates [note in the Newspaper article from The Troy Record (Troy, New York) · Tue, Jul 28, 1953 it states that Emil was Lt. Emil Tessin II, Air Force Reserve].
  • 1957: Believe that Emil Tessin started work for Alside. As stated in House + Home Magazine Feb 1964 he departs after 6 years working with Engineers and Designers to create 22 homes.
  • December 6th 1961: Patent filed with the Serial No. 67,814 for a ‘MODULAR HOUSE’, submitted by – Emil A. Tessin H, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, as an assignor to Alside Homes Corporation, a corporation of Ohio.
  • September 11th 1962: Patent granted for a ‘MODULAR HOUSE’ with a term of 14 years.
  • December 1963: Departs Alside Homes Corporation.
  • October 1964: Sues Alside contending that as they no longer manufacture homes that he be allowed to work for other companies.
  • August 1967: Employed by Westinghouse Electric Corporation, Coral Springs FL. Emil was employed to develop a ‘Patio Package’. A “total electric outdoor living .. combines spaces heating, lighting, cooking facilities, and extra daylight.”
  • October 1968: Executive Vice President William Lyons Home Inc. Newport Beach, CA.  [it is unknown how long he was at this position – based on one newspaper article].
  • July 1970: President of S&S Construction, and undertook a project for an ‘Active Adults’ community with Parkewood-Los Alamitos [it is unknown how long he was at this position – based on one newspaper article].
  • July 1972: President of Diversified Communities, Inc. [DCI], a subsidiary of Newport Beach, California – headquartered Diversified Communities. A general partnership between Azimuth Equities [privately held real estate development firm] and Fleetwood Enterprises [publicly held company traded on NYSE][it is unknown how long he was at this position – based on one newspaper article].
  • January 1974: Officer with Colony Group Development Corporation in California. This company is now dissolved, and it was listed as having 1 member.
  • January 12th, 1983: Died in Newport Beach, Orange County, California, USA. Buried in St. Andrews Cemetery in Saginaw, Michigan.
  • July 1983: Sale Carson Harbor Village, a 409 space mobile park home for $8 million. It was only 5 years old and sold by: Emil Tessin Estate; Walker Smith & Dick Bradley to James Goldstein and Carlsberg Financial Corp.

Emil Tessin, architect and designer, at a mid-century modern he designed that is under construction. Photograph by Phillip Harrington, for Look Magazine.

Emil tessin, at a house he designed. The date is unknown. Photograph by Phillip Harrington, for Look Magazine.

Check back from time-to-time as we will be updating the timeline with information as we find out more details.

Look Magazine 1962 – The Article

 

This is the actual magazine that the Alside Homes are included in. Published on January 16th, 1962, it features a 10 page spread on the future of housing with homes made from: plastics; laminated woods; concrete block; reinforced concrete; asbestos cement [we know how that one turns out]; steel and glass; porcelain-enameled steel; and aluminum.

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An exceprt for the article –  “Some are homes for the venturesome clients. Others are research houses. All demonstrate that new building materials, suited to mass production, will advance housing from the craft methods of the 19th century to the industrial techniques of the twentieth. The next 25 years will reflect these changes. In excellence of design, performance, cost and appeal, our homes will match America’s best machine-made products.”

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And below is the write-up on Alside Homes Corporation …. 

ALUMINIUM

This modern lightweight metal combines easy shipping, which attracts manufacturers, with easy maintenance, which delights homeowners. The research-minded alumium industry has sponsored many experimental houses. But the nearest thing to a mass-produced aluminum house is this one by designer Emil A. Tessin II of Alside Homes Corporation in Akron, Ohio. Floors, roof and solid walls are of refinished aluminum panels, with insulated cores, like the one Tessin sits on at the left. Along with aluminum-framed sliding glass window walls, they are fitted onto a steel frame in a choice of floor plans. Alside’s year-end aim: 200 houses a day. This is a 1,500-square-footer will sell, erected for about $12,000, plus lot.

Publisher: Look Magazine
Producer: John Peter
Photographer: Phillip Harrington