It's often fun to look at pictures of houses you could never live in, and with Larry Millett's latest book, that never, you can be sure, is both definitive and unrelated to your dim financial prospects. Once There Were Castles (University of Minnesota Press) is a survey of the hundreds of lost Twin Cities mansions, some razed to make way for commercial expansion, some in response to changing tastes or diminished fortunes. Naturally there are many stories and photos here of doomed extravagance, such as that of hard-drinking heir Charles C. Gates, who died before the completion of his 38,000-square-foot mansion, which survived only two decades and thus couldn't become a handy Lake of the Isles Walmart. Millett has been the Twin Cities' leading architectural historian for longer than the Gates house stood, and his style is always personable in a skeptical, sometimes expertly cutting way.
Sat., Dec. 17, 2 p.m., 2011
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