Escape Home: Rebuilding Life After the Anschluss, A Family Memoir

CoverTatraCaps2.inddBy Charles Paterson and Carrie Paterson

570 pages with 200 illustrations and an index.
2013 and 2017. Hardcover and paperback.
Ebook also available.

$29.95 | 9780983254010
$18.95 | 9780997003468

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Cover: Olga Feigl Beck, Stefan Schanzer, Doris Schanzer, and Karl Schanzer, Pilsen, Czechoslovakia, 1938. Photo: Max Beck.

The memoir of architectural designer and Frank Lloyd Wright apprentice Charles Paterson (born Karl Schanzer) is a riveting tale of discovery and coming to terms with a past that casts a long shadow. Paterson was nine years old when the Nazis invaded Vienna in March, 1938. Fleeing Austria for Czechoslovakia just months later, only to witness the invasion of Hitler for a second time in Prague, the author and his sister Doris escaped to Paris to rejoin their refugee father Stefan before being adopted in Australia. Meanwhile, Stefan’s daring three-month-long escape from occupied France by foot and bicycle, told in a long and detailed letter to his children from Lisbon, is a story unto itself.

When the surviving Schanzer/Paterson family reunite in America in the late 1940’s, the story takes a different turn. Connecting family history with movements in Central European Modern architecture through Adolf Loos, the author’s uncle, and the American Modernism of Frank Lloyd Wright, Escape Home examines how architecture is a reflection of perseverance and how it can give form to the struggle of the spirit that quests simultaneously for freedom and security.

Escape Home is also the biography of a father written by his son and granddaughter with a background of family history and personal reflection. The Patersons’ loving portrait of Stefan Schanzer, who shepherded his family through tribulations with grace amidst sorrow and loss, is a story to be savored and shared.

Edited by Hensley Peterson, Carrie Paterson, and Paul Andersen.


An engrossing saga, profusely illustrated and fully documented, the stuff that makes an intriguing feature film. I heartedly endorse it.
– Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer (2018†), Founding Director | The Frank Lloyd Wright Archives

A compelling story of one family’s escape, grace and courage.
– William J. Cabaniss, United States Ambassador to the Czech Republic | 2004-2006

This jewel should not be called a book but a museum.
– Will Semler, Melbourne, Australia

Intimate and scholarly. With footnotes and a lengthy index, [Escape Home] is a labor of love: a dossier of letters, mementos, documents, photographs, recipes and the contemporary reflections of family members. Beginning with ancestors in Hapsburg-era Vienna, the Patersons explore the death of Old Europe and the birth of what we’ve come to regard as American architecture. They also contend with the attempted annihilation of their bloodline and celebrate the courage and perseverance of those who survived. With enough material for at least three books, the authors are determined to fit it all into one. Patient readers will be rewarded.
An encyclopedic and epistolary family history, a eulogy for pre-Reich Vienna and an ode to midcentury modernism.
– Kirkus Reviews

Escape Home is at once an engaging tale of a young refugee from Hitler’s Europe making a new and fascinating life for himself in post-war America as well as a reverential homage to his Viennese father’s survival after living through not one, but two, world wars. This is a memoir of family love and personal adventure as both father and son put the tragedy of their European past behind them to build a fresh and promising future.
– Loren Jenkins, Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent

An invaluable addition to the literature on the birth of modern Aspen… In a life filled with more optimism and achievement than bitterness, “Escape Home” is the capping effort at finding meaning in a life that has included hardship, heartache, success and home.
– Stewart Oksenhorn, Aspen Times Weekly

A remarkable multi-faceted story of a [Viennese] family who survives through the Holocaust, exile, war-time prison camp, and all the other vagaries of life…. One of the most amazing stories I ever read about escaping from Nazi-occupied France.
– Jill Meyer, five stars, Amazon Vine Top 500 Reviewer

One of the more uplifting accounts of European émigré life that I have read in a long time. At the same time, it is a deeply nostalgic book about the domestic qualities of architecture … about making for oneself a home, even under the most adverse circumstances. What else is architecture about, if not that? … If you consider architecture primarily as an art form, a monetary investment, or some abstract political act, then you will miss the relevance of this book. If, however, you think and feel architecture is about making a home for man—us, humans—on earth, then you will appreciate these tours de force of father and son…. It will touch you to tears right away, regardless of how many accounts of similar fates you believe to have studied and understood…. What a book!
– Volker M. Welter, author of Ernest L. Freud, Architect and Biopolis: Patrick Geddes and the City of Life

What is the measure of a life well lived? Rare is the person who does not look back on a lifetime with some sense of marvel… Some people live lives so large they seem to pack many existences into their brief time on this planet. Longtime Aspen resident Charles Paterson is one such person.
– Karina Wetherbee, Summit Daily


Book lecture and book signing in Aspen, Colorado

Interview with Charlie Paterson and Carrie Paterson on Aspen Public Radio.


Charles Paterson was born Karl Schanzer in Vienna, Austria in 1929. He was a ski pioneer in Aspen, Colorado, where he opened one of the town’s first ski lodges, The Boomerang. A ski instructor for 17 years, Charles simultaneously ran his lodge, was an architectural designer, and avidly served on several volunteer community boards, such as the planning and zoning board with the City of Aspen and the Aspen Music Festival, where he and his wife of nearly 50 years, Fonda Paterson, were lifetime trustees. Paterson died in Aspen, Colorado on August 8, 2018. As one of the last apprentices to train under Frank Lloyd Wright, his archive has become a valuable resource. Following his death, tributes to Charles appeared in The Aspen Times and The Aspen Daily News as well as Architect.

Charles’ coauthor and daughter Carrie Paterson, the publisher of DoppelHouse Press, is also an artist, writer, and editor. She lives in Los Angeles.