To answer, it's actually who, what and why. Laura Mae is the name of our beautiful office building.
Since 2002, our office had been located on the corner of Main Street and Strongs Avenue. For ten years, as I (LouAnn) would drive in to go to our office, I would go past one of my very favorite houses in Stevens Point. Each time I would go through, I couldn't help but stare. I felt magnetized to the building. To me, the home looked timeless and elegant yet strong and unyielding. Finally, early in 2012, we were given the opportunity to purchase the structure. It was one of my dreams come true. During the purchase process, I said to Gene “I don't feel right calling it just our new office. I can't say 'I am going to the office' any more. That's what I've said for the past ten years. This is different. We have to come up with a name. We have to name her. But it has to be something that fits – strong yet elegant, and correct to the time period of which she was built.”
After a couple of weeks of tossing several names around, Gene suggested we look deeper into the history of the home. Built in 1915, there have been many owners, and many stories. We found that the second owner of the home rather fascinating and intriguing, and decided to name the home “Laura Mae” named for Laura Mae Corrigan, who'd purchased the home in 1917 for her parents, William and Emma Parker. Laura Mae was born near Stevens Point on January 2, 1879, and according to the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History (http://ech.cwru.edu/ech-cgi/article.pl?id=CLM):
CORRIGAN, LAURA MAE (2 Jan. 1879-22 Jan. 1948), an international socialite, was born in Wisconsin, the daughter of Charles and Emma Whitlock. She married, then divorced, physician Duncan R. MacMartin in Chicago. In 1917 she married Jas. W. Corrigan, son of a founder of the Corrigan-McKinney Steel Co. Possibly because of her divorce, Laura was never really accepted into Cleveland society, so the Corrigans spent their time in Europe. Corrigan's lavish parties were covered in society columns in both Europe and the U.S., as her guests included the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of York. In 1925, Jas. Corrigan returned to Cleveland and took control of Corrigan-McKinney Steel, although Laura, except for visits, remained in Europe. James died in 1928.
After James' died, Corrigan resided in Europe. In Paris when World War II broke out, she escaped to England via Portugal. During the war she worked for French soldiers and refugees, organizing the aid group of French women known as La Bien Venue. Corrigan also helped U.S. citizens financially stranded in Europe. In Buckinghamshire, England, she ran the popular
officers' Wings Club. Before the war, Corrigan received an annual income of $800,000. During the war, the U.S. State Dept. allowed her only $500/month, so she sold her jewelry, tapestries, and furniture to finance her activities. After the war, she received the Croix de Guerre, Legion of Honor, and Croix de Combattant from the French government, and the King's Medal from the British government.
Laura Mae Corrigan remembered the small city in Wisconsin where she'd grown up, giving back to the community financially. According to the midwestguest.com (http://www.midwestguest.com/2011/03/the-story-of-laura-mae-corrigan-a-cleveland-melodrama-turned-heroines-tale.html),
In 1933, Laura wrote checks totaling $10,000 to civic and charitable groups in the Stevens Point, Wisconsin area, including: Methodist and Congregational Churches, South Wood County Chapter of the Red Cross, Riverview Hospital Association, the local Board of Education, T.B. Scott Library, the Woman's Federation Relief Fund, and Wisconsin Rapids Unemployment Relief Fund.
Laura Mae Corrigan's final resting place is in Cleveland's Lake View Cemetary, along with people like President James A. Garfield, John D. Rockefeller, and I presume, with many of the Cleveland socialites who'd originally eschewed her.
We feel honored to be the owners of this local landmark during this time in history. The home speaks to so much of which we feel in our business. A “home” for our clients to come to. Classic elegance. A strong and rich history. Positioned at the beginning of Main Street Stevens Point, it's as if she watches over and greets people coming into the most historic section of town. Much of the home is still original construction, including the stucco exterior, the hardwood floors of the interior, and massive wood trim and beams in the parlor ceiling.
A Look Inside Laura Mae
Many people have mentioned that they've been attracted to the building which now houses our office over the years as they walked or drove past. One of the most frequent comments heard is, “I've always wanted to look inside.” This led us to do a little digging into why we also see our place as special.
The structure at 1417 Main is unique to Stevens Point in that it is one of the few examples of Prairie Style architecture in the area. Prairie Style homes usually have some of the following features: a shallow-pitched hip roof, broad overhanging eaves, strong horizontal lines, an open floor plan and bands of windows located high up on walls. The Prairie School was an architectural style originating in the Midwest, primarily in Chicago, from the late 1800's to approximately 1920. “Laura Mae” was built from 1915-16, which places her in this period. Although perhaps not designed by one of the Prairie School pioneers such as Louis Sullivan or Frank Lloyd Wright, the influences and inspiration in detail are evident.
Few alterations have been made on the exterior, with the exception of the access ramp erected to serve the public. Surprisingly, even the stucco finish is mostly intact. Much of the interior has also been preserved. The Arts & Crafts design in woodwork, solid baseboards & crown molding, minimalist room design, and banded windows are still in place, and a contrast to the Victorian era homes built around the same timeframe that we see around town. The Prairie Style, a name given not by the architects themselves, was intended to counter the smaller rooms and closed-in feeling of Victorians, just as the prairies of our area are more unconfined.
We are proud to be housed in a stellar representation of an architectural era founded in the prairies of the Midwest to convey strength, style and an appreciation of the lands of our local heritage.