Without formal training in architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright nevertheless established himself as the most influential American architect of the 20th century. At an early stage in his career, he adopted the concept that "form follows function," which led him to design some of the most innovative designs for structures that ranged from modest homes to the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.Wright's parents were William Cary Wright and Anna Lloyd Jones Wright, who traced their ancestry to Wales. His first commissioned work was the Hillside Home School, which was built for Wright’s aunts in 1888 near Spring Green, Wisconsin.After about a year, Wright obtained a better job as a draftsman for Adler and Sullivan, a prominent Chicago architectural firm then at the forefront of architectural design. Wright would later refer to Louis Sullivan as his Lieber Meister, which means "beloved master,” and acknowledge Sullivan alone as an influence on his work.In 1889, Wright married Catherine Lee Clark Tobin — the first of three wives — with whom he had six children. With $5,000 borrowed from Sullivan, he purchased a lot in Oak Park, in an affluent suburb west of downtown Chicago, and built his first home.Wright stayed with Adler and Sullivan until 1893, when his growing number of independent commissions convinced his employers that he was "moonlighting" and terminated him, based on company policy. Wright rebounded by opening his own firm, first operating from the Adler and Sullivan-designed Schiller Building, then the Steinway Building, and finally in 1898, a studio at his home in Oak Park.Forty-nine buildings were constructed from Wright's designs during his first eight years as an independent architect. During that time, he began to develop what is known as the Prairie Style of architecture, named after a house he designed for a Ladies Home Journal article in 1901. His architectural designs are often associated with the Arts and Crafts Movement.Wright did not limit himself to architecture. Regarding architectural interiors, he said that the "reality of a building is not the container but the space within." Such was the impact of Wright's designs that furniture makers even today are producing items based on them.In 1909, Wright left his wife and traveled to Germany with Margaret “Mamah” Cheney, the wife of a neighbor and client. He named the house "Taliesin," which means "shining brow" in Welsh.Wright divided his time between his Chicago office and Taliesin until August 15, 1914, when his chef became deranged, set fire to Taliesin, and murdered Cheney, two of her children, and two other people. He completed the Midway Garden commission in Chicago and launched into the rebuilding of Taliesin.Following the tragedy at Taliesin, Wright received a letter of condolence from a sculptress named Miriam Noel. Free at last after more than a decade of separation, he married mentally disturbed Noel in November 1923, but they separated in March 1924 and divorced in 1928.While still married to Noel, Wright had encountered a young Yugoslav, Olga Milanoff Hinzenberg, who was 33 years his junior, married but separated, and the mother of a young daughter Svetlana. About three years later, the couple was officially married.With the coming of the Great Depression, architectural commissions became scarce. The result was Wright's residential masterpiece, Fallingwater, the house built over a waterfall.In 1929, Wright spent time in Arizona working on projects. Wright and his fellowship were now able to alternate between Arizona and Wisconsin, depending on the season.Age had no evident effect on Wright's productivity. Following World War II, he received commissions for 270 houses, as well as the Guggenheim Museum in New York City and the Marin County Civic Center in San Raphael, California. His body was interred at Taliesin, near Unity Chapel, which is considered to be his first building.Frank Lloyd Wright redefined architecture and hastened the end of the Art Nouveau period. Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union.”
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The large Welsh family of farmers, teachers and ministers that settled part of the Wisconsin River valley near Spring Green in the middle of the nineteenth century included a young woman named Anna Lloyd Jones. This teacher, caught the eye of William Carey Wright, a preacher and musician. William soon won her affections and they married. On June 8, 1867 in Richland Center, a small town 20 miles west of Spring Green, Anna gave birth to a son named Frank Lloyd Wright.
Wright spent many summers in his teen years on the farm his uncle James worked in the valley. Wright considered the valley to be his home … much more so than the house in Madison, Wisconsin, where he spent the rest of the year. During his summers in the valley, he learned to pay particular attention to the patterns and rhythms of nature. The lessons he gleaned from nature would find their way into his later work again and again.
1886 UNITY CHAPEL
Unity Chapel is a shingle-style chapel designed by architect Joseph Lyman Silsbee of Chicago, IL. Wright’s uncle and Unitarian minister, Jenkin Lloyd Jones commissioned the chapel and Frank Lloyd Wright designed the interior at the age of 18. This makes Unity Chapel Wright’s earliest work. A family cemetery outside includes the grave sites of the Lloyd Jones family, including Wright’s original plot. Unity Chapel today remains operated by the Lloyd Jones family. The exterior is open to the public, and tours of the interiors are available by request.
1897 ROMEO AND JULIET WINDMILL
Romeo and Juliet Windmill was commissioned by Wright’s aunts to pump water for their co-educational boarding school, and Wright offered them a striking observatory tower of wood. The design features two intersecting towers, with Romeo as a triangular storm prow, supported by the octagonal Juliet. The aerodynamic structure allows storm winds to pass around the structure without causing harm. In 1992 Taliesin Preservation fully restored the windmill as its first project on the Taliesin estate, in partnership with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.
Wright designed Tan-y-Deri as a residence for his sister, Jane Porter, and her family. The Porters worked for the Hillside Home School, just downhill. Welsh for “under the oaks,” Tan-y-Deri sits on a hill adjacent to Taliesin and next to the Romeo and Juliet Windmill. The design was based on “A Fireproof House for $5000” by Wright featured in the Ladies Home Journal article. Tan-y-Deri underwent a comprehensive interior and exterior restoration completed in 2017.
Wright’s home, studio, and garden sanctuary was a laboratory for architecture and design. In its three iterations, Taliesin embodies Wright’s ideas of organic architecture, expanded and refined from his earlier Prairie School works. From the courtyards and gardens to the Living Room, Loggia, and Birdwalk, Taliesin offers a commanding view of the valley, settled by Wright’s Welsh ancestors. Using natural local limestone and Wisconsin River sand, Taliesin stands as “shining brow” on Wright’s favorite boyhood hill.
1911 TALIESIN I
Wright moved to this valley two years after leaving his 20-year-architect practice in Oak Park, IL. He wanted to live, work, and farm in the valley with his companion, Mamah Borthwick. He later wrote,
“This hill on which Taliesin now stands as “brow” was one of my favorite places when I was a boy, for pasque flowers grew there in March sun while snow still streaked the hillsides.…”
In 1914, arson destroyed the living quarters of Taliesin – one-third of the house – and seven were murdered.
1914 TALIESIN II
Wright immediately declared that he would rebuild the destroyed portion of Taliesin. In his autobiography, Wright later wrote: “Taliesin should live to show something more for its mortal sacrifice than a charred and terrible ruin on a lonely hillside in the beloved Valley.” In Taliesin II, he added a stone-floored room called The Loggia from which he could see the family chapel.
1925 TALIESIN III
In April 1925, an electrical fire in Wright’s bedroom destroyed Taliesin’s living quarters again. Wright — by then with the future Mrs. Wright (Olgivanna) — wrote, “Taliesin lived wherever I stood! A figure crept forward from out the shadows to say this to me. And I believed what Olgivanna said.” As he wrote,
[T]aught by the building of Taliesin I and II, I made forty sheets of pencil studies for the building of Taliesin III…. Taliesin’s radiant brow … should come forth and shine again with a serenity unknown before.
1932 TALIESIN FELLOWSHIP
The Great Depression saw few commissions come Wright’s way. Never idle, however, Wright turned to writing, producing An Autobiography and The Disappearing City, both of which continue to influence generations of architects. During this time, Wright received numerous letters from individuals interested in studying with him.
In 1932, Frank and Olgivanna Lloyd Wright founded the Taliesin Fellowship, a community that provided architectural training with a holistic, “learn by doing” approach that stressed appreciation of all the arts, and which often allowed students to design and work on structures on the Taliesin property. The community survives today as the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture whose members, both faculty, and apprentices, are still known informally as the Taliesin Fellowship and who reside at Taliesin during the summer months.
Hillside Home School, the building Wright designed in 1902 for his aunts’ boarding school in the valley, became the Fellowship’s central campus. With the inspiration and help of a young and eager group of apprentices, Wright remodeled and expanded the school, adding a 5,000-square-foot drafting studio, converting the gymnasium into a theater and adding housing for the new apprentices.
1952 MIDWAY BARN
Midway Barn is located between Taliesin and Hillside School. Stepping down the hill, it served as the center of agriculture for the estate beginning in the 1940s. Midway grew as operations expanded through the decades with the spired Milking Tower is Wright’s “ode to the Guernsey teat.”
1955 HILLSIDE STUDIO & THEATER
The complex of buildings at Hillside includes spaces from across Wright’s career as a designer: the “abstract forest” drafting studio (1939), the Hillside Assembly Hall (1903), the Hillside Theater (1955), and the Fellowship dining hall (1955). Hillside is home to the School of Architecture at Taliesin, and students in residence here from mid-May through mid-October may be seen at work in the studio. The Assembly Hall is an example of Wright’s strides to “destroy the box” of traditional architectural design. The Hillside Theater includes a theater curtain, that was adapted from a Wright-designed geometric abstraction of the Taliesin landscape.
1967 THE FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT VISITOR CENTER
Wright designed the Riverview Terrace as a “gateway to Taliesin” that would house a restaurant, as well as offices and meeting space for the architects at Taliesin. Construction began under Wright’s supervision and stalled upon Wright’s death in 1959. In 1967 the Riverview Terrace opened as The Spring Green restaurant as part of an investment in developing an arts community in Spring Green along the Wisconsin River. Taliesin Preservation purchased the building in 1993 and adapted it to serve as the Frank Lloyd Wright Visitor Center.
1990 TALIESIN PRESERVATION
A non-profit organization founded upon the recommendation of a Blue Ribbon Commission authorized by Governor Tommy Thompson in 1988, Taliesin Preservation restores and preserves Frank Lloyd Wright’s home, Taliesin, and the additional Wright-designed buildings on the 800 acre Taliesin estate. The work includes physical preservation, repair, and restoration of furniture and materials, updating HVAC systems while returning the buildings and estate to the last decade of Wright’s life.
Photo Credit: The Chicago History Museum, ICHi89169, Raymond W. Trowbridge, photographer.
An American architect, designer, writer, and educator, Frank Lloyd Wright promoted organic architecture, which was best exemplified in his most famous work—Fallingwater. During his seventy-year career, Wright designed over 1,100 buildings (seeing over 500 of them realized), authored twenty books and numerous articles, and was a popular lecturer in the United States and in Europe until his death. Already renowned during his lifetime, Wright is now considered the “greatest American architect of all time."
Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959)
Frank Lincoln Wright was born in Richland Center, Wisconsin, on June 8, 1867, to William Carey Wright, an itinerant music teacher, composer, and Baptist minister, and Anna Lloyd Jones Wright, a school teacher. Following his parents’ divorce in 1885, Frank changed his middle name to Lloyd to honor his mother’s family.
Though his ambitious and strong-minded mother decorated the walls of his nursery with pictures of European cathedrals, it was not man-made beauty that initially captivated Wright. Growing up in rural Wisconsin on a plot of land originally settled by his mother’s Welsh ancestors, Wright spent his days surrounded by—and indeed a part of—the changing natural landscape. A patchwork of open fields, lush green valleys and rock-edged streams fed by the Wisconsin River all proved influential in the formation of his later organic design philosophy.
Wright’s family lived on a farm and, as a boy, his experiences taking care of animals and harvesting a life out of the earth made an indelible impression on him that influenced him consciously and, even more importantly, unconsciously, throughout his life. During his youth, he spent many hours purposefully observing the subtle behavior of sunlight, the shifting shadows of dusk and the changing of the seasons. Enthralled, he later sought out great thinkers whose beliefs affirmed and ultimately refined his, such as Thoreau, Emerson and Whitman.
Wright’s reverence for the natural world became the cornerstone of his pioneering theories of “organic architecture” and would shape, define and enhance every project he approached for the rest of his life. Generations would hail Frank Lloyd Wright as a genius…one of the greatest architects who ever lived. But like the sunny fields where he played as a child, his life would also have its shadows.
It has been noted that Wright’s career ran concurrently with the birth and evolution of modern architecture. He began his career in 1887 in Chicago, first in the office of Joseph Lyman Silsbee and then at the firm of Adler & Sullivan, under the supervision of the famed architect Louis Sullivan.
When it was discovered he was soliciting his own commissions, he then set up a private practice in his Oak Park home, adding a drafting studio and visitor reception room in 1895. There he perfected his signature Prairie Style, emphasizing open spaces and shallow, sloping rooflines. The Prairie Style, especially houses like that for Frederick C. Robie, was extremely influential in the Midwest especially, and is considered a milestone in the history of modern architecture.
In the early decades of the twentieth century, Frank Lloyd Wright’s productivity was matched in intensity by the public’s fascination with his personal life. A high-profile affair with a client, the resulting well-publicized separation from his wife, and a year-long sojourn through Europe culminated in his return to the United States in 1911 and his purchase of a plot of ancestral land in Wisconsin, where he would build his renowned retreat and studio, Taliesin.
The valley surrounding Taliesin was originally settled by Wright’s maternal family, the Lloyd Joneses, during the Civil War. Welsh immigrants, Wright’s maternal grandfather and uncle were Unitarian ministers, and his two aunts had founded the Hillside Home School, a co-educational boarding school. The Lloyd Jones family, their ideas, religion, and ideals, greatly influenced the young Wright, who chose the Welsh word Taliesin, meaning “shining brow” for his sanctuary positioned on the “brow” of a favored hill.
Subsequent sensational events at Taliesin included the murder of seven people, including Wright’s mistress at the time, by arson in 1914. Coinciding with the collapse of his second marriage in the 1920s, a second devastating fire at Taliesin in 1925, and the onset of the Great Depression, Wright’s career faced a loss of commissions. What was designed as a refuge from public scrutiny soon flourished to become an experimental architectural apprenticeship program as Taliesin slowly grew to encompass the former Hillside Home School buildings when Wright formed the Taliesin Fellowship with his third wife, Olgivanna, in 1932.
Wright used the Fellowship as a way to explore and enact his ideas of organic architecture. Taliesin was riddled with misfortunes, but it was also there that the genesis of Fallingwater took shape. With its extraordinary Wisconsin landscape and romantic relationship with nature, Taliesin signaled a maturity that would fully blossom—only a few years later—among the rhododendron in rural southwestern Pennsylvania.
In 1934, having just returned to the United States from a long stay in Europe, Edgar Kaufmann jr. was introduced to the unique concepts of Frank Lloyd Wright quite by chance. A friend had suggested he read An Autobiography, Wright’s 1932 accounting of his life in which the 65-year-old architect opined on his upbringing, his buildings, and the somewhat radical ideas that led to his reputation as a colorful genius and innovator of the “organic” approach to modern architectural design and construction. Instantly captivated by Wright’s belief that art has a humane and noble task to serve man in harmony with his natural surroundings, the Kaufmann felt the architect’s words “flowed into my mind like the first trickle of irrigation in a desert land.” He visited Wright at Taliesin in September 1934, and by October had taken his place among the apprentices there.
Though he had no plans to become an architect, the young Kaufmann also began to enthusiastically discuss Wright’s ideas with his parents. Following a visit to Taliesin in 1934, Edgar Kaufmann, Sr., began a casual correspondence with the architect regarding several potential civic projects in Pittsburgh. Kaufmann quickly recognized their mutual passion for new ideas, aesthetic beauty and the relationship between man and the natural world and Wright found a patron that would change the course of his life, his career and, indeed, modern architecture itself.
Frank Lloyd Wright and Cloquet: A historic connection
Frank Lloyd Wright, born June 1867, spent over 70 years designing nationally recognized structures that have continued to impact architecture. He spent his life traveling the world — learning, teaching and designing.
So, what led the celebrated architect to select Cloquet as the home for not one, but two of his designs? The answer is simpler than people might think, and it all started with two college students.
In the early 1950s, Cloquet resident and business owner Ray Lindholm was seeking his ideal home somewhere in the local area. Lindholm founded Lindholm Oil Company in 1939 and set his eyes on a new goal of constructing a home for himself and his wife, Emmy.
It was then that his college-aged daughter, Joyce Mckinney, and her husband, Daryl Mckinney, encouraged him to hire Wright for the project. They had admired Wright’s work while studying at the University of Minnesota and thought he would be a good fit.
The family soon traveled to Wright’s home in Spring Green, Wisconsin, and commissioned his help.
Joyce Mckinney told the Pine Journal in a 2008 interview that Wright was willing to design the house plan immediately.
“He was very accessible, and I don’t think terribly busy either,” she said.
Wright often took on smaller-scale projects and designed over 400 homes in the U.S. during his life.
“Regard it just as desirable to build a chicken-house as to build a cathedral,” he once told studying architects.
Upon its completion in 1952, the Lindholm House spread approximately 2,300 square feet in what was once a heavily wooded area of Cloquet.
The house dawned the name Mäntylä — Finnish for “house among the pines” — and remained in Cloquet until 2016, when it was donated by then-owners Peter and Julene Mckinney to the Usonian Preservation in Acme, Pennsylvania.
But, the relationship did not end with the completion of the house. While Ray Lindholm was dreaming of a home, Wright was dreaming of a service station.
Wright had been working on designs for service stations since the 1920s and believed they were a crucial piece in his utopia urban plan known as “Broadacre City.”
“The roadside service station may be, in embryo, the future city distribution center,” Wright wrote in his biography.
Unfortunately, none of his designs for the stations had come to fruition, and Wright was nearing the end of his career.
So, when he learned the Lindholm family owned an oil company, he jumped at the opportunity to see one of his station designs come to life.
“Basically, Wright convinced my grandfather to let him do the project,” Lindholm's grandson Mike Mckinney told the Pine Journal in 2009.
Wright based the design on some of his previous plans, with some minor modifications made in light of local fire codes.
He wanted it to be a step up from other service stations, and equipped it with a 32-foot copper canopy and a lounge for guests to wait while their vehicles were repaired.
It cost around $75,000 to design and build, as compared to the usual $25,000, but Joyce Mckinney told the Duluth News Tribune that her father didn’t flinch at the price.
In the end, the design was unique and attention-grabbing, but not practical, according to former manager Donald Lynch.
“It’s unfortunate that Frank Lloyd Wright didn’t know anything about service stations when he designed it,” Lynch told the Duluth News Tribune in 1982, citing a cramped sales office and inaccessible bathrooms.
Wright designed both the Lindholm house and service station without ever visiting the area. He used topographic maps to chart out his plans, and sent his apprentice Robert Pond to oversee the service station's construction.
Even though Wright never stepped foot in Cloquet, it appears the Lindholm and Mckinney families had ongoing communication with the architect.
In addition to visiting his Wisconsin home, the family also traveled to Arizona to see Wright, who designed a second home for the family, but it was never constructed.
While many described Wright as an egomaniac, Joyce Mckinney told the Duluth News Tribune that he was “sweet." The family kept a photograph of Wright taken by Daryl Mckinney, in which he is pictured holding his glasses in one hand, looking to the side.
Joyce Mckinney told the News Tribune that Wright hated the photograph and had torn up the original, saying that it made him look old. Fortunately, she had made another copy, which the family still has today.
The R.W. Lindholm Station held its grand opening in 1958. Wright died five months later, having completed his final career goal.
While it is no longer owned by the original family, the station has come to be known as the Frank Lloyd Wright Gas Station and was registered through the National Register of Historical Places in 1985.
In 2008, then-mayor Bruce Ahlgren declared Aug. 7 as Frank Lloyd Wright Day in Cloquet.
The Triumph of Frank Lloyd Wright
Frank Lloyd Wright's most iconic building was also one of his last. The reinforced-concrete spiral known as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum opened in New York City 50 years ago, on October 21, 1959 six months before, Wright died at the age of 92. He had devoted 16 years to the project, facing down opposition from a budget-conscious client, building-code sticklers and, most significantly, artists who doubted that paintings could be displayed properly on a slanting spiral ramp. "No, it is not to subjugate the paintings to the building that I conceived this plan," Wright wrote to Harry Guggenheim, a Thoroughbred horse breeder and founder of Newsday who, as the benefactor's nephew, took over the project after Solomon's death. "On the contrary, it was to make the building and the painting a beautiful symphony such as never existed in the world of Art before."
From This Story
Video: Constructing the Guggenheim
The grandiloquent tone and unwavering self-assurance are as much Wright trademarks as the building's unbroken and open space. Time has indeed shown the Guggenheim's tilted walls and continuous ramp to be an awkward place to hang paintings, yet the years have also confirmed that in designing a building that bestowed brand-name recognition on a museum, Wright was prophetic. Four decades later, Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Bilbao—the curvaceous, titanium-clad affiliated museum in northern Spain—would launch a wave of cutting-edge architectural schemes for art institutions across the globe. But Wright was there first. A retrospective exhibition at the original Guggenheim (until August 23) reveals how often Wright pioneered trends that other architects would later embrace. Passive solar heating, open-plan offices, multi-storied hotel atriums—all are now common, but at the time Wright designed them they were revolutionary.
When Solomon Guggenheim, the heir to a mining fortune, and his art adviser, Hilla Rebay, decided to construct a museum for abstract painting (which they called "non-objective art"), Wright was a natural choice as architect. In Rebay's words, the two were seeking "a temple of spirit, a monument" and Wright, through his long career, was a builder of temples and monuments. These included actual places of worship, such as Unity Temple (1905-8) for a Unitarian congregation in Oak Park, Illinois, one of the early masterpieces that proclaimed Wright's genius, and Beth Sholom Synagogue (1953-59) in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, which, like the Guggenheim, he supervised at the end of his life. But in everything he undertook, the goal of enhancing and elevating the human experience was always on Wright's mind. In his religious buildings, he used many of the same devices—bold geometric forms, uninterrupted public spaces and oblique-angled seating—as in his secular ones. The large communal room with overhead lighting that is the centerpiece of Unity Temple was an idea he had introduced in the Larkin Company Administration Building (1902-6), a mail-order house in Buffalo, New York. And before it reappeared in Beth Sholom, what he called "reflex-angle seating"—in which the audience fanned out at 30-degree angles around a projecting stage—was an organizing principle in his theater plans, starting in the early 1930s. To Wright's way of thinking, any building, if properly designed, could be a temple.
In his unshakable optimism, messianic zeal and pragmatic resilience, Wright was quintessentially American. A central theme that pervades his architecture is a recurrent question in American culture: How do you balance the need for individual privacy with the attraction of community activity? Everyone craves periods of solitude, but in Wright's view, a human being develops fully only as a social creature. In that context, angled seating allowed audience members to concentrate on the stage and simultaneously function as part of the larger group. Similarly, a Wright house contained, along with private bedrooms and baths, an emphasis on unbroken communal spaces—a living room that flowed into a kitchen, for example—unknown in domestic residences when he began his practice in the Victorian era. As early as 1903, given the opportunity to lay out a neighborhood (in Oak Park, which was never built), Wright proposed a "quadruple block plan" that placed an identical brick house on each corner of a block he shielded the inhabitants from the public street with a low wall and oriented them inward toward connected gardens that encouraged exchanges with their neighbors. Good architecture, Wright wrote in a 1908 essay, should promote the democratic ideal of "the highest possible expression of the individual as a unit not inconsistent with a harmonious whole."
That vision animates the Guggenheim Museum. In the course of descending the building's spiral ramp, a visitor can focus on works of art without losing awareness of other museumgoers above and below. To that bifocal consciousness, the Guggenheim adds a novel element: a sense of passing time. "The strange thing about the ramp—I always feel I am in a space-time continuum, because I see where I've been and where I'm going," says Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer, director of the Frank Lloyd Wright Archives in Scottsdale, Arizona. As Wright approached the end of his life, that perception of continuity—recalling where he had been while advancing into the future—must have appealed to him. And, looking back, he would have seen telling examples in his personal history of the tension between the individual and the community, between private desires and social expectations.
Wright's father, William, was a restless, chronically dissatisfied Protestant minister and organist who moved the family, which included Wright's two younger sisters, from town to town until he obtained a divorce in 1885 and took off for good. Wright, who was 17 at the time, never saw his father again. His mother's family, the combative Lloyd Joneses, were Welsh immigrants who became prominent citizens of an agricultural valley near the village of Hillside, Wisconsin. Wright himself might have written the family motto: "Truth Against the World." Encouraged by his maternal relatives, Wright showed an early aptitude for architecture he made his initial forays into building design by working on a chapel, a school and two houses in Hillside, before apprenticing in Chicago with the celebrated architect Louis H. Sullivan. Sullivan's specialty was office buildings, including classic skyscrapers, such as the Carson Pirie Scott & Company building, which were transforming the Chicago skyline.
But Wright devoted himself primarily to private residences, developing what he called "Prairie Style" houses, mostly in Oak Park, the Chicago suburb in which he established his own home. Low-slung, earth-hugging buildings with strong horizontal lines and open circulation through the public rooms, they were stripped clean of unnecessary decoration and used machine-made components. The Prairie Style revolutionized home design by responding to the domestic needs and tastes of modern families. Wright had firsthand knowledge of their requirements: in 1889, at 21, he had married Catherine Lee Tobin, 18, the daughter of a Chicago businessman, and, in short order, fathered six children.
Like his own father, however, Wright exhibited a deep ambivalence toward family life. "I hated the sound of the word papa," he wrote in his 1932 autobiography. Dissatisfaction with domesticity predisposed him toward a similarly discontented Oak Park neighbor: Mamah Cheney, a client's wife, whose career as head librarian in Port Huron, Michigan, had been thwarted by marriage and who found the duties of wife and mother a poor substitute. The Wrights and Cheneys socialized as a foursome, until, as Wright later described it, "the thing happened that has happened to men and women since time began—the inevitable." In June 1909, Mamah Cheney told her husband that she was leaving him she joined Wright in Germany, where he was preparing a book on his work. The scandal titillated newspapers—the Chicago Tribune quoted Catherine as saying she had been the victim of a "vampire" seductress. Wright was painfully conflicted about walking out on his wife and children. He attempted a reconciliation with Catherine in 1910, but then resolved to live with Cheney, whose own work—a translation of the writings of Swedish feminist Ellen Key—provided intellectual support for this convention-defying step. Leaving the Oak Park gossipmongers behind, the couple retreated to the Wisconsin valley of the Lloyd Joneses to start anew.
Just below the crest of a hill in Spring Green, Wright designed a secluded house he called "Taliesin," or "shining brow," after a Welsh bard of that name. A rambling dwelling made of local limestone, Taliesin was the culmination of the Prairie Style, a big house with long roofs extending over the walls. By all accounts, Wright and Cheney lived there happily for three years, slowly winning over neighbors who had been prejudiced by the publicity that preceded them—until Taliesin became the setting for the greatest tragedy of the architect's long and eventful life. On August 15, 1914, while Wright was in Chicago on business, a deranged young cook locked the dining room and set it ablaze, standing with a hatchet at the only exit to bar all inside from leaving. Cheney and her two visiting children were among the seven who died. On the anguished journey to Wisconsin, a devastated Wright and his son John shared a train car with Cheney's former husband. Wright immediately vowed to rebuild the house, which was mostly in ruins. But he never fully recovered emotionally. "Something in him died with her, something loveable and gentle," his son later wrote in a memoir. (In April 1925, as the result of defective wiring, the second Taliesin also suffered a calamitous fire it would be replaced by a third.)
Wright's domestic life took another turn when a condolence letter from a wealthy divorcée, the determinedly artistic Miriam Noel, led to a meeting and—less than six months after Cheney's death—to an invitation for Noel to come live with Wright at Taliesin. With her financial help, he reconstructed the damaged house. But Taliesin II did not become the sanctuary he sought. Wright was a theatrical personality, with a penchant for flowing hair, Norfolk jackets and low-hanging neckties. Yet even by his standards, the needy Noel was flamboyantly attention-seeking. Jealous of his devotion to Cheney's memory, she staged noisy altercations, leading to an angry separation only nine months after they met. Although the split appeared to be final, in November 1922, Wright obtained a divorce from Catherine and married Noel a year later. But wedlock only exacerbated their problems. Five months after the wedding, Noel left him, opening an exchange of ugly accusations and countercharges in a divorce proceeding that would drag on for years.
During this tempestuous period, Wright had worked on just a few major projects: the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, the Midway Gardens pleasure park in Chicago, and Taliesin. All three were expansions and refinements of work he had done previously rather than new directions. From 1915 to 1925, Wright executed only 29 commissions, a drastic drop-off from the output of his youth when, between 1901 and 1909, he built 90 of 135 commissions. In 1932, in their influential Museum of Modern Art exhibition on the "International Style" in architecture, Philip Johnson and Henry-Russell Hitchcock listed Wright among the "older generation" of architects. Indeed, by this time Wright had been a force in American architecture for more than three decades and was devoting most of his time to giving lectures and publishing essays it was easy to believe that his best years were behind him. But in fact, many of his most heralded works were still to come.
On November 30, 1924, attending a ballet in Chicago, Wright had noticed a young woman seated next to him. "I secretly observed her aristocratic bearing, no hat, her dark hair parted in the middle and smoothed over her ears, a light small shawl over her shoulders, little or no makeup, very simply dressed," he wrote in his autobiography. Wright "instantly liked her looks." For her part, 26-year-old Olgivanna Lazovich Hinzenberg, a Montenegrin educated in Russia, had come to Chicago to try to salvage her marriage to a Russian architect, with whom she had had a daughter, Svetlana. Even before taking her seat, she would recall in an unpublished memoir, she had noticed "a strikingly handsome, noble head with a crown of wavy grey hair." Upon discovering that the ticket she had purchased at the last minute seated her next to this poetic-looking man, her "heart beat fast." During the performance, he turned to her and said, "Don't you think that these dancers and the dances are dead?" She nodded in agreement. "And he smiled, looking at me with unconcealed admiration," she recalled. "I knew then that this was to be." In February 1925, Hinzenberg moved into Taliesin II, where they both waited for their divorces to become final. On the very night in 1925 that Taliesin II burned, she told him that she was pregnant with their child, a daughter they would name Iovanna. They wed on August 25, 1928, and lived together for the rest of Wright's life. The rebuilt Taliesin III would be home to Svetlana and Iovanna—and, in a broader sense, to a community of students and young architects that, beginning in 1932, the Wrights invited to come live and work with them as the Taliesin Fellowship. After Wright suffered a spell of pneumonia in 1936, the community expanded to a wintertime settlement he designed in Scottsdale, Arizona, on the outskirts of Phoenix. He dubbed it Taliesin West.
In the last quarter-century of his life, Wright pushed his ideas as far as he could. The cantilevering that he had employed for the exaggeratedly horizontal roofs of the Prairie Style houses assumed a new grandeur in Fallingwater (1934-37), the country house for Pittsburgh department-store owner Edgar Kaufmann Sr., which Wright composed of broad planes of concrete terraces and flat roofs, and—in a stroke of panache—he perched over a waterfall in western Pennsylvania. (Like many Wright buildings, Fallingwater has better stood the test of time aesthetically than physically. It required an $11.5 million renovation, completed in 2003, to correct its sagging cantilevers, leaking roofs and terraces, and interior mildew infestation.) While designing Fallingwater, Wright also transformed the skylit open clerical space of the early Larkin Building into the Great Workroom of the Johnson Wax Company Administration Building (1936) in Racine, Wisconsin, with its graceful columns that, modeled on lily pads, spread to support disks with overhead skylights of Pyrex glass tubing.
Wright's ambition to elevate American society through architecture grew exponentially from the quadruple block plan in Oak Park to the scheme for Broadacre City—a proposal in the 1930s for a sprawling, low-rise development that would roll out a patchwork of houses, farms and businesses, connected by highways and monorails, across the American landscape. His desire to provide affordable, individualized homes that met the needs of middle-class Americans found its ultimate expression in the "Usonian" houses he introduced in 1937 and continued to develop afterward: customizable homes that were positioned on their sites to capture winter sun for passive solar heating and outfitted with eaves to provide summer shade constructed with glass, brick and wood that made surface decoration such as paint or wallpaper superfluous lit by clerestory windows beneath the roofline and by built-in electric fixtures shielded from the street to afford privacy and supplemented with an open carport, in deference to the means of transportation that could ultimately decentralize cities. "I don't build a house without predicting the end of the present social order," Wright said in 1938. "Every building is a missionary."
His use of "missionary" was revealing. Wright said that his architecture always aimed to serve the client's needs. But he relied on his own assessment of those needs. Speaking of residential clients, he once said, "It's their duty to understand, to appreciate, and conform insofar as possible to the idea of the house." Toward the end of his life, he constructed his second and last skyscraper, the 19-story H. C. Price Company Office Tower (1952-56) in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. After it was completed, Wright appeared with his client at a convocation in town. "A person in the audience asked the question, ‘What's your first prerequisite?'" archivist Pfeiffer recalled. "Mr. Wright said, ‘Well, to fulfill a client's wishes.' To which Price said, ‘I wanted a three-story building.' Mr. Wright said, ‘You didn't know what you wanted.'"
In developing the Guggenheim Museum, Wright exercised his usual latitude in interpreting the client's wishes as well as his equally typical flair for high-flown comparisons. He described the form he came up with as an "inverted ziggurat," which nicely linked it to the temples in the Mesopotamian Cradle of Civilization. In fact, the Guggenheim traced its immediate lineage to an unbuilt Wright project that the architect based on the typology of a parking garage—a spiral ramp he designed in 1924 for the mountaintop Gordon Strong Automobile Objective and Planetarium. Wright envisioned visitors driving their cars up an exterior ramp and handing them over to valets for conveyance to the bottom. They could then walk down a pedestrian ramp, admiring the landscape before reaching the planetarium at ground level. "I have found it hard to look a snail in the face since I stole the idea of his house—from his back," Wright wrote to Strong, after the Chicago businessman expressed dissatisfaction with the plans. "The spiral is so natural and organic a form for whatever would ascend that I did not see why it should not be played upon and made equally available for descent at one and the same time." Yet Wright also admitted admiration for the industrial designs of Albert Kahn—a Detroit-based architect whose reinforced-concrete, ramped parking garages foreshadowed both the Strong Automobile Objective and the Guggenheim.
In the long negotiations over costs and safety-code stipulations that protracted the construction of the museum, Wright was forced to compromise. "Architecture, may it please the court, is the welding of imagination and common sense into a restraint upon specialists, codes and fools," he wrote in a draft cover letter for an application to the Board of Standards and Appeals. (At the urging of Harry Guggenheim, he omitted the word "fools.") One sacrificed feature was an unconventional glass elevator that would have whisked visitors to the summit, from which they would then descend on foot. Instead, the museum has had to get by with a prosaic elevator far too small to cope with the attending crowds as a result, most visitors survey an exhibition while ascending the ramp. Curators typically arrange their shows with that in mind. "You cannot get enough people into that tiny elevator," says David van der Leer, an assistant curator of architecture and design, who worked on the Wright exhibition. "The building is so much more heavily trafficked these days that you would need an elevator in the central void to do that."
Installation of the Wright retrospective brought into high relief the discrepancies between the building's symbolic power and its functional capabilities. For instance, to display Wright's drawings—an unparalleled assortment, which for conservation reasons will not be on view again for at least a decade—the curators placed a mesh fabric "shower cap" on the overhead dome to weaken the light, which otherwise would cause the colors on the paper drawings to fade. "On the one hand, you want to display the building as well as possible, and on the other, you need to show the drawings," van der Leer explains.
The Guggenheim emerged last year from a $28 million, four-year restoration, during which cracks and water damage in the concrete were patched, and the peeling exterior paint (10 to 12 layers' worth) was removed and replaced. Wright buildings are notorious for their maintenance difficulties. During Wright's lifetime, the problems were aggravated by the architect's expressed indifference. One famous story recounts an outraged phone call made by Herbert Johnson, an important Wright client, to report that at a dinner party in his new house, water from a leaky roof was dripping on his head. Wright suggested he move his chair.
Still, when you consider that in many projects the architect designed every element, down to the furniture and light fixtures, his bloopers are understandable. Proudly describing the Larkin Building, Wright said, many years after it opened, "I was a real Leonardo da Vinci when I built that building, everything in it was my invention." Because he was constantly pushing the latest technologies to their utmost, Wright probably resigned himself to the inevitable shortfalls that accompany experimentation. "Wright remained throughout his life the romantic he had been since childhood," historian William Cronon wrote in 1994. "As such, he brought a romantic's vision and a romantic's scale of values to the practical challenges of his life." If the architect seemed not to take the glitches in his built projects too seriously, it may be that his mind was elsewhere. "Every time I go into that building, it is such an uplifting of the human spirit," says Pfeiffer, who probably is the best living guide to Wright's thinking about the Guggenheim. The museum is often said by architectural critics to constitute the apotheosis of Wright's lifelong desire to make space fluid and continuous. But it represents something else as well. By inverting the ziggurat so that the top keeps getting wider, Wright said he was inventing a form of "pure optimism." Even in his 90s, he kept his mind open to expanding possibilities.
Arthur Lubow wrote about the 17th-century Italian sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini in the October 2008 issue.
Prairie School Architecture
A year later, Wright began an apprenticeship with the Chicago architectural firm of Adler and Sullivan, working directly under Louis Sullivan, the great American architect best known as "the father of skyscrapers." Sullivan, who rejected ornate European styles in favor of a cleaner aesthetic summed up by his maxim "form follows function," had a profound influence on Wright, who would eventually carry Sullivan&aposs dream of defining a uniquely American style of architecture to completion. Wright worked for Sullivan until 1893 when he breached their contract by accepting private commissions to design homes and the two parted ways.
In 1889, a year after he began working for Louis Sullivan, the 22-year-old Wright married a 19-year-old woman named Catherine Tobin, and they eventually had six children together. Their home in the Oak Park suburb of Chicago, now known as the Frank Lloyd Wright home and studio, is considered his first architectural masterpiece. It was there that Wright established his own architectural practice upon leaving Adler and Sullivan in 1893. That same year, he designed the Winslow House in River Forest, which with its horizontal emphasis and expansive, open interior spaces is the first example of Wright&aposs revolutionary style, later dubbed "organic architecture."
Over the next several years, Wright designed a series of residences and public buildings that became known as the leading examples of the "Prairie School" of architecture. These were single-story homes with low, pitched roofs and long rows of casement windows, employing only locally available materials and wood that was always unstained and unpainted, emphasizing its natural beauty. Wright&aposs most celebrated "Prairie School" buildings include the Robie House in Chicago and the Unity Temple in Oak Park. While such works made Wright a celebrity and his work became the subject of much acclaim in Europe, he remained relatively unknown outside of architectural circles in the United States.
Frank Lloyd Wright - History
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Commissioned in 1916 and completed in 1918, Frank Lloyd Wright's Allen House is named after its first owners, newspaper publisher Henry Allen and his wife, Elsie. It was the last of the architect's famous prairie houses, which emphasized horizontal lines, earth tones and a continuous blending of interiors with exteriors.
Architectural writers who have visited the house believe its living room is "one of the great rooms of the 20th century". The home features more than 30 pieces of Wright-designed furniture, all of its original art glass and several new-for-their-time innovations, such as wall-hung water closets and an attached garage. Restored back to 1918, the house exemplifies Frank Lloyd Wright's philosophy of living in harmony with nature. The house was pivotal in the movement to the Usonian designs of 1935. Interior furnishings manufactured by Niedecken Walbridge represent the last of twelve collaborations. The Allen House is considered by many visitors "the house of choice to live in!"
Visit the site that USA Today considers one of the "10 great Frank Lloyd Wright home tours" in the nation. The Allen House is located in the historic College Hill neighborhood, 255 N. Roosevelt, Wichita, KS.
Frank Lloyd Wright - History
|Frank Lloyd Wright|
|The Seth Peterson Cottage|
|Early Years and the Future|
|Frank Lloyd Wright|
At the time Seth Peterson approached Wright to design the Cottage, the architect was nearing ninety years old, in the seventh decade of the most creative and innovative architectural practice in American history.
Frank Lloyd Wright is a native son of Wisconsin. Born in Richland Center on June 8, 1867, he always regarded Wisconsin as his home. After early years in Madison and Spring Green, he ventured to Chicago in 1887, where he developed his revolutionary ideas and created a thriving practice in the prosperous suburb of Oak Park. In 1911, he returned to Wisconsin, taking a farm near Spring Green and turning it into a laboratory where he developed and built his ideas for more than fifty years.
These ideas and ideals spread from the Midwest throughout the United States, then worldwide, and have entered the very fabric of our American culture.
In the late 1950’s, Wright was the center of an astonishingly successful architectural practice, and was involved in such major projects as the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, the Marin County Civic Center near San Francisco, and the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church near Milwaukee. In addition, he was designing many private homes.
The 1958 Seth Peterson Cottage is Wright’s last Wisconsin building. Wright died in April, 1959, before Cottage construction was completed.
After a tour in the Army, Peterson returned to his hometown and took a job as one of state government’s first computer operators. He retained his dream of working with Wright, though, and on several occasions he asked the master to design a home for him. Wright refused because of the press of other work, but eventually Peterson sent Wright a retainer, which Wright promptly spent. So he was finally obligated to design Peterson’s dream house.
Peterson had purchased a piece of property on quiet Mirror Lake, near Wisconsin Dells, and it was for this dramatic wooded site that he asked Wright to design a small house just big enough for Peterson and his intended bride.
Inside the cottage, the soaring roof is offset by the lower stonewalled enclosure of the east side, a cozy retreat centered on the fireplace. In the bedroom a ribbon of narrow windows just beneath the roof provides a wash of light offering shelter and privacy.
Only one element of applied decoration marks this elegant and simple cottage: a frieze of stylized pine trees cut from plywood and set into a narrow row of windows above the main living room windows.
Rehabilitation of the Seth Peterson Cottage took more than three years. The Seth Peterson Cottage Conservancy hired architect John Eifler, who was experienced in restoring Wright buildings, to direct the project.
When rehabilitation work began in 1989, the boarded-up building was in total disrepair. Water damage had destroyed the flat roof over the bedroom as well as part of the sloped living room roof. The heating, electrical and plumbing systems were completely deteriorated. Kitchen, bedroom and bathroom cabinets and fixtures were either missing or too badly damaged to salvage and windows and door frames were in disrepair. Much of the glass was broken or missing. The sandstone walls and flagstone floor were the only portions of the building still in good condition. Volunteers removed and sanded salvageable woodwork. Wisconsin Conservation Corps crews removed and numbered each floor flagstone, following a detailed floor diagram. Crews also removed the old hot air heating ducts, the furnace and the concrete slab under the flagstone floor.
Rehabilitation continued with replacement of the roof, installation of new electrical and plumbing systems, and a new well and septic system. Woodwork was refinished or replaced, new custom-made windows were installed, and the flagstone floor was re-laid over the new concrete slab in which the pipes for the hot water radiant heating system are embedded. Wright’s original design called for this type of heating system, but was not installed for cost reasons as part of the original construction.
Kitchen, bedroom and bathroom cabinets and shelves were rebuilt using the ruined units as models, and the furniture Wright designed for the house was finally built. To fully furnish the cottage for rental purposes, John Eifler designed additional furniture pieces to complement Wright’s design.
The past twenty years have also seen significant improvements made to the Cottage and environs. Architect John Eifler designed a complementary storage shed, and board member Paul Wagner designed a shed to store all the firewood culled from Mirror Lake State Park. To enable guests to take full advantage of Mirror Lake, a dock was built and a canoe was donated.
Other improvements included the attractive red entrance gate designed by Bill Martinelli, new outdoor lighting, and extensive landscaping. In 2005 air conditioning was installed for the comfort of our rental guests. In 2006 a mini rehab was completed with the furniture being repaired and refinished, all upholstery replaced, interior and exterior woodwork refinished, and repairs to the radiant floor. In 2008 the cedar shingles and the fire brick in the fireplace were replaced. In 2009 a high efficiency, on demand boiler was installed and in 2011 the cedar shingles on the shed were replaced and a new cooktop installed in the Cottage.
In the past two decades, the Cottage has received more than 10,000 overnight guests from most states and many foreign countries. Our monthly tours now attract more than a thousand visitors a year. The Cottage is kept in the public eye through many feature articles, including those that have appeared in Architectural Digest, The New York Times, and the Chicago Tribune.
Ancestry [ edit | edit source ]
Frank Lloyd Wright was born Frank Lincoln Wright in the farming town of Richland Center, Wisconsin, United States, in 1867. His father, William Cary Wright (1825–1904), ΐ] was an orator, music teacher, occasional lawyer, and itinerant minister. Wright's mother, Anna Lloyd Jones (1838/39 – 1923), met William Cary Wright while working as a county school teacher when William was the superintendent of schools for Richland County.
Originally from Massachusetts, William Wright had been a Baptist minister, but he later joined his wife's family in the Unitarian faith. Anna was a member of the well-known Lloyd Jones family who had emigrated from Wales to Spring Green, Wisconsin. One of Anna's brothers was Jenkin Lloyd Jones, an important figure in the spread of the Unitarian faith in the Midwest. Both of Wright's parents were strong-willed individuals with artistic interests that they passed on to him.
Childhood [ edit | edit source ]
According to Wright's autobiography, his mother declared when she was expecting that her first child would grow up to build beautiful buildings. She decorated his nursery with engravings of English cathedrals torn from a periodical to encourage the infant's ambition. In 1870, the family moved to Weymouth, Massachusetts, where William ministered to a small congregation.
In 1876, Anna visited the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, where she saw an exhibit of educational blocks created by Friedrich Wilhelm August Fröbel. The blocks, known as Froebel Gifts, were the foundation of his innovative kindergarten curriculum. Anna, a trained teacher, was excited by the program and bought a set with which young Wright spent much time playing. The blocks in the set were geometrically shaped and could be assembled in various combinations to form three-dimensional compositions. In his autobiography, Wright described the influence of these exercises on his approach to design: "For several years, I sat at the little kindergarten table-top… and played… with the cube, the sphere and the triangle—these smooth wooden maple blocks… All are in my fingers to this day… " Α] Many of Wright's buildings are notable for their geometrical clarity.
The Wright family struggled financially in Weymouth and returned to Spring Green, where the supportive Lloyd Jones clan could help William find employment. They settled in Madison, where William taught music lessons and served as the secretary to the newly formed Unitarian society. Although William was a distant parent, he shared his love of music, especially the works of Johann Sebastian Bach, with his children.
Soon after Wright turned 14, his parents separated. Anna had been unhappy for some time with William's inability to provide for his family and asked him to leave. The divorce was finalized in 1885 after William sued Anna for lack of physical affection. William left Wisconsin after the divorce, and Wright claimed he never saw his father again. Β] At this time he changed his middle name from Lincoln to Lloyd in honor of his mother's family, the Lloyd Joneses.
Education (1885–1887) [ edit | edit source ]
Wright attended Madison High School, it is unknown if he graduated. Γ] In 1886 he was admitted to the University of Wisconsin–Madison as a special student. While there, Wright joined Phi Delta Theta fraternity, Δ] took classes part-time for two semesters, and worked with Allan D. Conover, a professor of civil engineering. Ε] Wright left the school without taking a degree, although he was granted an honorary doctorate of fine arts from the university in 1955. Ζ]
Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1930 Code L-29 Cabriolet was on display at the Hagen History Center until October.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1930 Code L-29 Cabriolet is now in Erie after traveling hundreds of miles from Auburn, Indiana.
The 17-foot-long car weighed 4,000 pounds, and orange was Wright’s favorite color.
This will be part of Wright’s exhibition at the Erie County Historical Society-Hagen Historical Center, called Frank Lloyd Wright’s San Francisco Office.
The secretary-general says he wants the car to be attractive to many.
“People who come here to see it probably haven’t seen such a car before,” said George Deutsch, secretary general of the Erie County Historical Society in Hagen. History Center.
The car will be in Erie until early October when it will be shipped to the Frank Lloyd Wright Conservation Conference in Buffalo.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1930 Code L-29 Cabriolet was on display at the Hagen History Center until October.
Source link Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1930 Code L-29 Cabriolet was on display at the Hagen History Center until October.