Thursday, August 11, 2011


We have been fans of Frank Lloyd Wright for a long time and search out any buildings of his design where ever we travel. We have been to Taliesin West in Scottsdale twice, so going to Spring Green to see Taliesin was high on our must do list. We were not disappointed. We opted for the four hour Estate Tour that included Hillside, a walk across the grounds passed Midway Barns, a refreshment break on Mr. Wright's private patio and the gardens and house. Kyle, our tour guide, was very well informed and did an excellent job.

The entrance to the 600 acre estate. More than 2000 acres of the nearby land was once owned by Wright's family. Nanc and I in the garden. The original Wright grave. His third wife had his remains exhumed, cremated and buried with her ashes at Taliesin West. That action was so unpopular with the family that the Arizona grave is unmarked so this is the only one pilgrims can visit.
The first Wright designed building on the estate is the 1902 Hillside School that was originally used by his aunts as a boarding school. Starting in the 1930's and continuing today it is the summer home of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. We toured the drafting studio, the community room and the theater. Unfortunately, inside photos were not allowed.

The windmill, Romeo and Juliet, is really two structures that hold each other up.

The Midway Farm building was rebuilt by Wright apprentices to blend better into the hillside using the material of older buildings on the property. In the beginning Taliesin was more than a school of architecture, it was also a working communal farm with most of the work being done by the apprentices. Much of the 600 acres is farmed today by a organic certified group. Midway was used for both the animals and the living quarters of the students. The stone silo has recently been turned into a small living space by a student.

Taliesin means shining brow and the house reflects Wright's belief in organic architecture where buildings blend into their surroundings. He often used local materials for construction. This view is from above Hillside.

This is a composite view from the garden. Taliesin was a work in progress where Wright would design and build something to see how it worked, then would change or tear it down when he had a new idea. Over 200 documented changes have been made to the house since it was first started 100 years ago in 1911. You can see many of the features that were used in other Wright buildings we have seen.

Today's house is really Taliesin three as it burned twice, the first time in 1914 when a deranged employee murdered seven people, including Wright's mistress, Mamah Borthwick Cheney, and her two children and then set fire to the home. The story of this incident is told in the book Loving Frank by Nancy Horan. Nanc just finished the book and said it was quite an interesting story covering that seven year period of their lives.

The entrance to the home. This became the entrance after changes were made to the driveway to guide people to this side of the house. There have been some issues with the house settling and major preservation work is one of the ongoing goals of the foundation.

Just a few shots of the house. Many of these elements have been used in other buildings. In addition to students, several Wright Fellows live on the property. The oldest is in his 90's and worked personally with Wright. There is a guest bedroom in the main house that is available for visiting family members and former students. The great room. Most of the furniture was built of plywood not the woods that would have been used in the homes of clients. This was Wright's way of experimenting with cheaper materials to see how things would work. If you are in the Spring Green area and only have time to see one place we would recommend Taliesin over the House on the Rock. We loved it.

1 comment:

Jim and Bobbie said...

What a great post!!! The photos and story you told was very informative. Thank you for sharing this adventure with us.