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We are working on doing some research to find out more about the house. The seller’s realtor provided us with a ‘sales brochure’ on the home and we discovered a few things that are requiring us to dig deeper. The brochure references the following clues:

  • Alside Home Corporation  built the prefabricated home
  • Emil Tessin was the Engineer / Architect
  • Knoll & Paul McCobb designed the interiors

This information got us poking around online, and as it turns out we have learned that there is a ‘6 degrees of separation from Florence Knoll Bassett’. You see – Emil Tessin Senior [a Banker], and father to Emil Tessin the Engineer / Architect, was the legal guardian to Florence ‘Shu’ Knoll Bassett according to the Archives of American Art:

Florence Knoll Bassett was born Florence Schust in 1917 and was affectionately known as Shu by her colleagues and friends. She was orphaned at age 12 and then cared for by Emile Tessin, a friend of the family whom her mother had appointed as Florence’s legal guardian in the event of her death. When arrangements were being made for Florence to attend boarding school she was given the opportunity to make the selection. Kingswood School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, held a strong aesthetic appeal for her and she “made an immediate decision that it was the right place for me,” beginning her architectural studies under the school’s art director, Rachel de Wolfe Raseman.

We did some reading of the extensive collection of archives that Florence herself put together and donated in 2000. There was only one reference in the entire collection that we found making a reference to Emil Tessin. It was in the form of a letter from the Saarinen family stating that they were taking Florence to Europe and she was in good hands:

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Emil Tessin Senior was a graduate of Michigan Law School – Class of 1914

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The search continues … but we are still excited about the Knoll connection.

This post was updated in Jan 2019.


  1. Valentine,
    Your research into Emil Tessin has some information we did not know.
    Emile Tessin II (the 2nd) is my Wife’s uncle. Emil Tessin I (The first) is his father, (my wife’s Grandfather).
    Emil Tessin I was a Bank president and lawyer In Saginaw Mi, He worked on Trusts & Estates for the bank,
    While doing research last year I found out that he was the Legal guardian for Florence Knoll, Mary’s family
    thinks they remember hearing about Florence, who might have lived with the family for a while.
    We believe It is purely Coincidental that Florence went on to become one of the most influential Mid century
    Designers and Emil Tessin the architect of your house.
    Barry Leventhal


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