Taliesin - a trip back in time

Trip Start May 01, 2010
Trip End May 29, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Wisconsin
Friday, May 14, 2010

The first nice day in a long time. Mostly sunny and warm. We spent the day with the Martens visiting a cheese factory (I know, it's a cliché) and Taliesin. The cheese factory was interesting, especially the sampling. We walked out with a bag full of cheese and other goodies, then went to the Taliesin visitor center south of Spring Green for lunch and the tour.

Our knowledgeable tour guide first walked us through Hillside, where Frank Lloyd Wright established the Taliesin Fellowship of experienced, like-minded architects and opened his school of architecture in 1932. In 1937, he completed Taliesin West near Scottsdale, Ariz., to be the "winter home" of his school. Apprentices and teachers/fellows are forced to make the annual trek to Scottsdale each fall because Wright had all of the furnaces taken out of Hillside and Taliesin as soon as Taliesin West was completed. As this is written, the student architects are preparing to return to Wisconsin after their winter in Arizona.

Wright had little use for formal education, having had very little himself. He taught apprentice architects by putting them to work on his own commissions and even insisted they do the cooking, cleaning, construction and maintenance around the place – and they were paying him to do it!

The Hillside tour was followed by a visit to Taliesin itself. Wright began the house in 1911 on family-owned land when he was essentially banished from his home in Oak Park, Ill., after flaunting his affair with the wife of a client. She and her children came to live at Taliesin and were brutally slain in 1914 by a newly hired servant who murdered seven people with an ax while torching the house. I am not making this up. Wright rebuilt the house in 1914 and again in 1925 when lightning set it afire.

I have attached several photos of the buildings and if you look closely, you’ll see that these structures, among the most famous in architecture, look shabby, bordering on disrepair. Our guide told us it would take as much as $100 million to refurbish these buildings. Wright is partly to blame. He saw no reason to invest in quality construction and materials, since Taliesin and Hillside were undergoing constant change. Despite their condition, these buildings still display the genius that still influences architecture in America.

Tomorrow: House on the Rock, built by a man who wanted to out-do Taliesin.
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Alan Freitag on

Great report on F.L. Wright! He was something of a rascal, to say the least. I very much look forward to your reactions to the House on the Rock -- in my view, one of the most amazing sights I've visited.

Dick Crockett on

Glad you noted you were not making that up because I was pretty sure you were. Keep the reports coming. Very interesting and if they stop coming at least well know where to start looking for you.

ellen.hartman@fitzco.com on

My goodness. such tails. I never like Frank anyway..

Ben on

Ashley saw your last post and asked me if you were coming through Arizona, since you were visiting FLR's home. :(

Hope you guys are having a great time.

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