Great Houses of Summit Avenue surpasses 8500 books sold!

Great Houses of Summit Avenue and the Hill District book in 2015 surpassed a milestone this year—selling over 7500 books nationwide.

We are entering this year's Christmas market with the coupon code GIFT, and receive 30% off retail price.  Just click the BUY button in the menu bar.  Don't forget to ask that your book is personally signed by Karen Melvin, publisher and photographer of the 11-time national award winning book.

"It has been a truly rewarding journey to bring the story of St. Paul's rich architectural history to life through detailed pictures of interiors of the mansions along Summit Avenue. This may be the only invitation you will receive to take and intimate tour through St. Paul's glory days of architecture."

 

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Great Houses wins 11 national publishing awards and 2 preservation awards

2014 was a banner year for Great Houses of Summit Avenue and the Hill District winning 11 awards in 6 national publishing events.  In fact, the book was a finalist in every award show for which it was nominated.   Also two state-wide Preservation awards were given to the book.

The City of Saint Paul and Mayor Coleman and the Saint Paul AIA honored the book in May of 2014 with the coveted Cultural Heritage Award.  The Heritage Preservation Commission organized the gala at City Hall, with several notable building projects also winning awards in other categories. 

Preservation Alliance of Minnesota in September awarded the book the Preservation Award for outstanding merit in publishing.  Preservation Alliance of Minnesota is a statewide organization in the spirit of the National Trust, protecting endangered buildings from demolition.  Their mission is to preserve, protect and promote preservation throughout Minnesota.

Following is a list of all the awards, most of which were given at the national book convention Book Expo in New York City in May of 2014.

Midwest Independent Publishers Association                                      

·Gold Award - Arts

·Gold Award- Illustration/Photography

Next Generation Indie Book Award

·Gold - Best Overall design

·Gold – Regional Non- Fiction

·Gold – Historical Non- Fiction

·Silver - Coffee Table book/Photography

Foreword Reviews

·Sliver Winner for Architecture

Ben Franklin Award

·Silver Winner for Regional

·Silver Winner for Home and Garden

Independent Publisher book Awards

·Sliver Winner – Architecture

National Indie Excellence Awards

·Finalist – Coffee table book

Its a wonderful feeling to be recognized nationally both in the publishing world and through Preservation organizations!

F. Scott Fitzgerald House

Have you ever wondered what the space looks like that F. Scott Fitzgerald revised  his first novel, This Side of Paradise?  The semi-autbiographical novel about his undergraduate years at Princeton became one of the best selling novels of 1920.  Fitzgerald returned to 599 Summit Avenue in the Spring of 1919 to revise the manuscript after it had been rejected by Scribners.  To win Zelda's hand in marriage he needed to prove he could support her, and by the fall of 1919 the rewrite proved successful and was published in March of the following year.  Fitzgerald's parents gave him the third floor space at the top of the stairs to work during the summer of 1919. The writing room was comfortable, private, and had the convenience of a balcony for smoking breaks.  A speaking tube served as a communication device so that he could order up daily necessities -like lunch - from his mother in the kitchen below.  Check out the gallery of images below:

Stuart - Driscoll House

The oldest house on Summit Avenue

 

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The Stuart-Driscoll house, know as the oldest house on Summit Avenue, was built in 1858 prior to the Civil War. The Italian styled mansion can be seen high on the bluff (from what is now know as Seven Corners) in a 1859 photograph by Prairie photographer Joel Whitney.  The current stair configuration and much of the paneling throughout the house was a result of a 1887 remodel by Gilbert and Taylor architects, commissioned by new owner, St. Paul Mayor Robert Smith.  Of note for the expansive remodeling job, was the stairway and hall, dining room, living room and many other spaces in the house. President Grover Cleveland dined in the house by invitation of the mayor soon after the remodel.  The stair has a classic "Gone with the Wind" cache, and one can envision Scarlett O'Hara flowing down the steps. The ornate chandelier in the ladies reception room toward the front of the house is original to the time of the remodel.

 

 

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Shooting the Burbank-Livingston-Griggs mansion at night

The beauty of  a well executed dusk shot is to feel the juxtaposition of the warm lights of the interior with the blue cast of the building facade and midnight blue sky. Dusk shots can be a challenge for a number of reasons:  the direction the building faces will dictate whether it should be shot at dawn or dusk, the balance of interior light to the building color and density, the short window of time to execute the shotof and the technique used to record the imagery all play into the success or management of the final file.

I like to see a nice deep blue for the sky color, (sometimes needing a gradation tool in photoshop), a facade that has tone and detail yet shows the effect of dusk coming on,
and interior lights that hold their tone and color to a beautiful warm level.

All of this means having to shoot multiple exposures and densities as the light descends and the night sky becomes a deeper blue,  typically over a period of 20-25 minutes during the period at dawn or dusk known as  the "Blue Hour".  A tripod is a necessity as well as a device called an  intervalometer which hits the shutter automatically and in regular timed intervals.  At the end of the 20 minute session, I may have 350-500 images all of varying densities. I will select about 5-6 images to work with in Photoshop using layers and blending techniques to bring the shot together in one believable studied shot.  Here are some examples from the Summit Avenue book.

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