Frost House Wedding

The daughter of the Frost family (Patty) reached out to us and shared a few family photos recently. They are some snap shots from her wedding that took place at the Frost House. Apparently the ceremony was held in the living room, and it was followed by a reception at the local country club. We love that they not only show some history of the original occupants of the house, but they give a glimpse into the garden. We had heard, and we can see some remnants, that a Dogwood existed by the front door. These photos provide proof of the tree, and show what it looked like growing up through the black steel beams along the front walkway. Oh, and look – there is a peek at some yew hedges that are no longer there along the side of the house.

Florence Knoll – 101

We have been celebrating the life of Florence Marguerite Knoll Bassett over here at the Frost House, and we couldn’t think of a better way to do so than to FINALLY purchase the outdoor furniture we have always wanted for the pool deck. With a house filled room-to-room with Knoll furniture it was an easy decision really. So coming soon we will be adding a few pieces designed by Richard Schultz from his 1966 Collection [see below].

They will be going on the right had side of the pool deck to provide more seating for cocktail hour. Now that this purchase has drained our garden budget for 2019, it is back to saving our pennies in the hopes to replace the lounge chairs in 2020. We are keeping our eye on the prize, to make it all knoll #knollfordays.

We have been on the hunt for vintage pieces, and we have 4 lounges that we found on our back patio, off the guest bedrooms – but we could never find a large enough collection in matching colors to fit our pool. Bring on the delivery, and bring on summer so we can get out there and cocktail again – this time in comfort – and to toast a few to the legend – Florence Knoll.

For more on Florence, and to get the 101: on her connection to the Frost House head over here, & over here; to learn about her life – Knoll has a lovely tribute to ‘Shu’ that you can read here.

Establishing ‘Trust’

We loving seeing the story of our house popping up everywhere: from major publications; and websites; to blogs across the globe. With each share we get to learn something new. This particular blog, it was the comments that grabbed our attention. Ross who is into restoring things, including an incredible home – Cross House. He shared our Curbed story with his readers, and one reader in turn shared some incredibly thoughtful food for thought:

“I have never found mid-century modern to be a personally appealing style, as my preference would be something built before 1900 out of wood., yet this house is exceptional. It is the epitome of preservation.”

Although we personally like mid-century modern we can also appreciate all styles of well persevered craftsmanship that represent a point-in-time, enabling the experience of life in another period in history.

It appears to me from reading the article that the reason that everything goes so perfectly is because the house and furnishings appear to have been chosen by a single designer or team of designers who not only designed the house, but were among those who created the very concept of mid-century modern. The fact that it was all put together as a model home means that the concept has never been tainted by the whims of its owners.

A great observation – we will have to quote you in our presentations for that thought.

The Frost family’s lifestyle lent itself to maintaining the house and its contents so beautifully, makes it a true example of a movement that has been little understood, nor, when I was young, even seriously taught in courses in the appreciation of the history of art.

The kids when they moved in were young teenagers, and we know that they did have a dog in the house, they knew how to respect what your hard earned money had purchased.

For its new owners, Bob Coscarelli and Karen Valentine, to walk in and recognize the value of these details and want to preserve them, is crucial to its continued preservation. It will limit them in their choices in the future, but is a trust that they seem ready to carry.

It is so true, although we love the house, we were hoping that we could have had a small project to update the kitchen and bathrooms, but because everything was so well maintained, it would have been wrong of us to change anything too significantly. These homes in this state are ‘needles in a haystack’.

Speaking of trusts, this house should be on the national register. I would hope for this house the same thing that I would like to do to for mine if I am able to complete its restoration, and that I would like to see Ross do for the Cross House.

Yes, we need to get moving on this listing, we really want to make sure it gets some recognition it deserves, at the every least with a listing on the National Register.

Now this next part is really interesting…. total food for thought when thinking about the future of ‘The Frost House’ – what next – could we consider a ‘preservation trust’:

  • Coscarelli and Valentine could set up a private preservation trust, foundation, or other tax-exempt entity for the property funding this trust with contributions.
  • (Although I don’t have the knowledge to determine the best entity within current laws. I will hereafter refer to the entity chosen as a trust.) Those contributions could come from multiple sources.
  • Those who would have a serious interest in having a tour of the home could be charged a significant fee, at least one hundred dollars per person. Such tours could be held on a regular basis, at the owner’s discretion. High fees would ensure that they would be limited to those with a serious interest, and of course the owners would have the right to show the house to anyone they liked at any time they like.
  • The current owners should not have any limits on their comfortable enjoyment of the property that don’t already exist.
  • The fees and other contributions could be invested in such a way that the capital would increase with every tour.
    • Only the income from the investments could be used for any purpose with hopes that the capital would continue to grow.
    • Income that was not spent in a calendar year would be used to increase the capital.
    • The board of trustees should be the owners, and others that the owners would select from the legal and financial community with a serious interest in the continued preservation of the house. I would say that it be specified that trustees would not be allowed to receive any remuneration for their work as trustees either financial or in any other form. It is my belief that too many such trusts have been gutted by trustees who “volunteer” in order to line their own pockets or steer work or patronage to people who would create some other benefit for that trustee.
  • The house could be owned by the trust, giving it tax free status and having the trust pay for upkeep in such a way that the owners could recoup their original investment plus any appreciation or minus any loss in value if we have deflation. This could be implemented by requiring one of two things.
    1. It could made into a house museum.
    2. The rights to its use as their home could be sold to people who would be committed to its preservation within the parameters set up by the current owners when the trust is formed.
  • For example, if the Frost family had set up such a trust, they could have left the house to the trust to preserve it. If they had had such a trust and wanted the value to go to their heirs, I am sure that their heirs and the trustees would have gladly approved Coscarelli and Valentine as the new owners and the Frosts would likely have been delighted to know that the new owners have a sense of commitment to its preservation.
    • The trustees could have approved and paid for the replacement of the carpet with terrazzo, as a solution to the worn carpet. After all, carpet can be put down at any time to return it to the exact original design, while the terrazzo will wear very well and serve the owner’s needs better.
    • They could also find specialists who can repair and maintain the vintage appliances, systems, and decor. Examples of such would be to go so far as to have fabrics custom made to match the original coverings etc. if necessary.
    • Covenants could be added to the deed that would assure the preservation of the house.
  • The trustees’ job would be to assure that the house is properly maintained, the capital is managed so that the income is only spent on quality maintenance with a diverse portfolio (to prevent huge losses such as those funds that invested so heavily in mortgage backed securities or companies such as Enron), and that no one could push for the alteration or demolition of the house for any reason.
    • They would manage the various efforts to raise additional funds, other than income from tours, for the trust. They would also have regular reserve studies done to assure that there is sufficient funding to prevent its decline.
    • A separate reserve fund could be maintained for expenses anticipated by the reserve studies.
    • The trustees could also create and raise money for a fund for the purchase of the rights that the owner(s) enjoy if they choose to sell.
  • I admit, I have written this in such detail to solidify ideas I have for the future of my own house and other historic properties that I have had buzzing around in my head. I find the lack of foresight that seems to result in the loss of properties whose owners or others were intent on preserving to be alarming.
  • The idea of turning a property over to municipalities for preservation seems to result in demolition due to budget cuts and disinterest from government officials.
    • There are so many examples that I hear about when someone posts an article, written in outrage when it is too late to do anything.
    • I usually prefer not to express my political views because I consider the to be private. I don’t really think that this statement is political, but others may. I feel that elected officials main interest is in being reelected, and the interests of preservation are not necessarily a thing that will help them with that. The bureaucrats who implement programs such as property preservation are required to do what they are told to within the law.

Such an incredibly thoughtful comment and discussion. We have reached out to Ross to see if he can connect us with Mr. McLean, he seems like a very interesting person.

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.

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:

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:


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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..




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 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.


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.

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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.



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].

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 …..

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.