Guest Post II – Elisa Rolle, Queer Places

Author: , December 8th, 2016

Hey all – today we have something different. The author of the new Queer Places – travel guides detailing the LGBTIQA history of places all around the world – agreed to write a special post for us about how she decided to write the books, and sharing a few of her favorite stories:


Queer Places V1While I was writing Days of Love, I was researching the lives of many couples, and I found that often they chose to be buried together, most of the time side by side. In a first draft of Days of Love I was “listing” these burial places, but then, on the final version, I removed most of them, storing the info aside

On other occasion, not related to the researches for Days of Love, I was visiting for my pleasure some places, and I strongly felt like there was a “queer” connection; it happened with Vizcaya in Miami, and with Glenveagh Castle in Ireland; back home I did some digging on the internet and found out that was the case, both owners, even if not officially out, were presumably gay (but nothing is written in their official biographies).

So, putting aside information after information, and loving to travel, I had collected a huge amount of historical tidbits, and putting them together I realized I had basically the material to write not one, not two, but at least three travel guides… and this is how Queer Places was born.

The Purple Roofs Gay Travel Blog asked me to pick some interesting inputs from Queer Places and I decided to pick one from each books.


For the UK (Volume 2), I will pick St. Ann’s Court, Chertsey (near Heathrow airport). St Ann’s Court is a reinforced concrete private house that was finished in 1936 by the Australian born architect, Raymond McGrath, for a stockbroker friend, Gerald Schlesinger. The house stands in 25 acres of parkland on the south slope of St Ann’s Hill.

Conservation work on the structure was completed in 1999 and included an authentic refurbishment of the interior at a total cost of around pounds 1 million. Gerald “AL” Schlesinger’s partner was Christopher Tunnard. Schlesinger was a successful stockbroker whilst Tunnard became one of the most important Modern landscape architects in Britain.

The two men lived at St Ann’s for most of the year (though they had a large London home) and the unusual first floor master bedroom enabled their double bed to be separated easily into two and rolled into the wings of the bow-tie shaped room.

In this position the bedroom became two single bedrooms separated by movable screens and a circular dressing room. With this arrangement they could maintain the fiction when house guests were expected that they slept in separate rooms – which was essential when sex between men was illegal.

Purple Roofs UK Page


You can get the books here:

Queer Places Vol 1 | Queer Places Vol 2 | Queer Places Vol 3

We’ll share more stories from Queer Places soon.

Guest Post – Elisa Rolle, Queer Places

Author: , November 23rd, 2016

Hey all – today we have something different. The author of the new Queer Places – travel guides detailing the LGBTIQA history of places all around the world – agreed to write a special post for us about how she decided to write the books, and sharing a few of her favorite stories:


Queer Places V1While I was writing Days of Love, I was researching the lives of many couples, and I found that often they chose to be buried together, most of the time side by side. In a first draft of Days of Love I was “listing” these burial places, but then, on the final version, I removed most of them, storing the info aside

On other occasion, not related to the researches for Days of Love, I was visiting for my pleasure some places, and I strongly felt like there was a “queer” connection; it happened with Vizcaya in Miami, and with Glenveagh Castle in Ireland; back home I did some digging on the internet and found out that was the case, both owners, even if not officially out, were presumably gay (but nothing is written in their official biographies).

So, putting aside information after information, and loving to travel, I had collected a huge amount of historical tidbits, and putting them together I realized I had basically the material to write not one, not two, but at least three travel guides… and this is how Queer Places was born.

The Purple Roofs Gay Travel Blog asked me to pick some interesting inputs from Queer Places and I decided to pick one from each books.

For the USA (Volume 1), I want to skip to obvious choices as San Francisco or New York City, and instead going in remote Wyoming, or at least it was remote when the story I’m telling you unfolded.

Dr. Grace Hebard retired from teaching in 1931. She continued to research and collect historical material in her Laramie home, known to students and colleagues as “The Doctors Inn”. Hebard lived in this house that she had had built with her friend, Agnes M. Wergeland, who died in 1914.

To the time of death, she was a dominant — and perhaps domineering — figure on campus. The Doctors Inn is at 318 S 10th St, Laramie. Agnes Wergeland was a Norwegian American poet and historian.

In 1916, Maren Michelet wrote a biography about the recently deceased Wergeland, who was the first Norwegian woman to achieve a doctorate. Wergeland had to emigrate to the United States to get a job at a university, because the Norwegian universities were not open to women yet. However, it turned out to be difficult to get a relevant job in the United States as well. For 12 years, Dr. Wergeland lived in Chicago, trying to get a permanent position at the university.

During this period, she lived with a Miss Merrill, with whom she had a relationship. When, after 12 years, Dr. Wergeland got a job at University of Wyoming in 1902, she left Chicago and Miss Merrill.

In Wyoming, Dr. Wergeland met, and moved in with, Dr. Grace Hebard. The 1916 biography describes this as an unusually happy domestic partnership. Together the two women built the house The Doctors’ Inn, and later also the log cabin Enebo on the lot Lille Norge (Little Norway) further up in the mountains.

Their life together is described as the ultimate idyllic scene, with a cozy home, a group of close female friends, gardening, and caring for humans and animals in need. These two women also got 12 years together, before Agnes Wergeland became sick, and died after a relatively short period of illness.

Of her end, the biography writes: “In her dear friend’s arms, with a smile on her lips, she silently wandered, saying: ‘Without you, life would have been impossible for me'”. Wergeland and Hebard are buried together at Greenhill Cemetery, Laramie, Plot: Row C, Lot 35, Space 4.

Purple Roofs Wyoming Page


You can get the books here:

Queer Places Vol 1 | Queer Places Vol 2 | Queer Places Vol 3

We’ll share more stories from Queer Places soon.

Queer Places: New Book Tells Where We Lived and Died

Author: , November 21st, 2016

Queer Places

Note: Elisa is a friend and an Italian – two of my favorite things.

Elisa Rolle is an historian who has done her homework. The openly lesbian writer and editor is authoring a series of books which document the history of Queer culture and the people who made that culture happen.

Her 2014 book “Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story At A Time,” chronicles the lives and loves of those who came before us. With that book, Rolle took us on a journey back in time, across the 20th, 19th and 18th centuries – and much further back – to revisit the lives of people who were known or believed to have been LGBT.

That book was a fascinating read which offered a few startling surprises, such as the inclusion of blind/deaf author/educator Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan, the woman who taught Keller how to read braille and to communicate. Other than Sullivan’s short lived, failed marriage in 1905, she and Keller lived together exclusively for 49 years. Is it really a stretch to believe that they may have loved each other?

In Rolle’s latest book “Queer Places: Retracing the Steps of LGBTQ People Around the World,” Volume 1, Rolle serves as our travel agent, taking us on a trip to all fifty states. Rolle is our tour guide as we visit the homes, birthplaces and gravesites of many of the historical figures we learned about in her earlier book. Volume 1 covers the U.S. The yet to be published Volume II will trace the steps of LGBT people in the United Kingdom, while Volume III will journey across the rest of the world.

By Dacid-Elijah Nahmod – Full Story at SFGN