Skiing History reviews Escape Home


Book Review
by Morten Lund

Escape Home is the memoir of Charles Paterson (born Karl Schanzer), Aspen architectural designer and owner of the famous Boomerang Lodge.

Born to a secular Jewish family in 1929, Paterson fled Vienna with his older sister [Doris] when the Nazis invaded Austria in 1938. He moved from Czechoslovakia to France and then to Australia before reuniting with family members in New York in 1948, where he began engineering studies at City College. For fun, he took up the sport he had loved as a kid, skiing in Central Park. Before [the next] winter was over, he had decided to head west, arriving in Aspen, Colorado just in time for the 1949 North American Alpine Championships.

He soon found work at the Hotel Jerome … driving the hotel taxi and carrying suitcases for such distinguished guests as Gary Cooper. Using $750 from his [savings], Paterson bought three lots, eight blocks from the Aspen single chair….

Paterson …  [started] to build the Boomerang Lodge in 1953. [Soon after], he became an Aspen ski school instructor—a perfect position from which to sell bunkroom space. In 195[8], he met iconic American architect Frankl Lloyd Wright and was accepted as an apprentice at Wright’s school at Taliesin, Wisconsin. Inspired by his work with Wright, Paterson rebuilt the Boomerang into a modern two-story lodge, … added a swimming pool, … more units and an upstairs lounge with a [180]-degree view. In 1970, he bought the nearby Paintbrush Chalet, which he added to the complex.

Through the years, the Boomerang continued to lead changes in the modern ideal of ski lodge architecture. Paterson sold the Boomerang in 2005; he had already started writing this book—with his daughter, Carrie Paterson—about his family and his extraordinary career. But even the book’s considerable length is barely able to cover the astonishing life of its author.