Exterior photograph of Taliesin in snow. Published December 1911. Property: the Chicago Tribune.

Another Change at Taliesin

Reading Time: 6 minutes

This part of Taliesin in the photo above is the part that faces the Wisconsin River. A photographer for The Chicago Tribune took this on Christmas day, 1911.

The other night I was thinking about changes at Taliesin and remembered something I haven’t written about: the expansion of Taliesin’s “Front Office”. That is, in the room next to Taliesin’s Drafting Studio, Wright moved the wall to the north.

The First Time

this part of the building appeared in photographs was the photo at the top of this post. The photographer took it on Christmas day 1911, the day Wright gave a press conference that informed the world that Mamah Borthwick and he were living together at Taliesin.

I mentioned the press conference here, here, and here.

Drawing Time!

I’ve added some for you, so you know what part of the building you’re seeing in the old photo. The first drawing, #1104.013, is a nice rendition of Taliesin 1911-14. It’s in the book, In the Nature of Materials: The Buildings of Frank Lloyd Wright, 1887-1941, by Henry-Russell Hitchcock:

Taliesin Floor plan. The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York), #1104.013.

The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York), #1104.013.1

And below is a closeup, with the Front Office near the middle of the drawing:

Taliesin Floor plan, The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York), #1104.013

The drawing has the “TERRACE” under a roof, just like you see in the photo (the roof is noted by the arrow):

Exterior photograph of Taliesin in snow. Published December 1911. Property: the Chicago Tribune.

Here’s comparison:

This photograph I took below looks straight at the part of the building that had the “TERRACE” in the black and white photo:

Looking south at Taliesin from Office Terrace. Photograph by Keiran Murphy.

I took this photograph in 2004 while researching the Front and Rear Offices.2

The “TERRACE” was below the wall of rectangular windows behind the trunk of the White Pine tree.

btw: the pine trees (there were two) were removed in 2019. Don’t cry about it: one tree was dying (fixing Taliesin’s drainage took away a water supply); and each of the tree limbs weighed, like, 100s of pounds. Everyone in preservation at Taliesin felt nervous at every strong summer rainstorm.

Going inside

Wright never named the room, really. Moreover, Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation staff didn’t call it the “Front Office” when I started at Taliesin.

           At that time (1994), Foundation staff used it as their business office.

The Foundation used the space until 1998 when the Tea Circle Oak tree fell (I wrote about that in this post). Here’s a photo from there:

Taliesin's Front Office. Photograph by Stilhefler in 2018.

Today I’m going talking about the part of the room on the right.

I didn’t work on the restoration of the studio after the tree fall,

—Why? at that time I was just a tour guide

so writing this post gives me a chance to educate myself.

More drawings—

Here’s one showing the other side of the room. It shows that part of Taliesin you see today in the Garden Court when you take a tour:

Taliesin elevation. The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York), #1403.020.

Details on the drawing indicate that Wright probably drew it by 1913.

The drawing’s ID, “1403.020”, implies that it’s a drawing from Taliesin II. It’s the “1403”: 1914-25. But that’s wrong because of details in the larger drawing. That drawing can be currently (and until August 2024) be seen online here.

The windows you see in 1403.020 were added in 1913-14. Wright was adding the windows (and making other changes) when the photo below was taken:

Wisconsin Historical Society, Lynn Anderson collection, c. 1901-c. 1987. ID #68047. Looking northeast from Taliesin tower with drafting studio and courtyard in view. Possibly late fall.

The Front Office is to the left of the large chimney for Taliesin’s Drafting Studio.

I’m always happy when I look at this photo because of all the changes you can see going on. While Wright was always doing that, they were rarely caught in photos. Among things happening, there are the windows near the ground and the clerestories in front of the chimney.

If you want to know what a clerestory is:

it so happens I wrote a post about what looks like one at Taliesin (BUT IT’S NOT).

Anyway, back to the Front Office:

in that drawing I added above with the red, you can see Wright labelled the room as “Library”.

And in 1911, when draftsman Taylor Woolley took the photo below, you can see bookcases against the wall on the left:

Taken by Taylor Woolley in Wright's Taliesin drafting studio, 1911. Looking west.

This photo’s also in my post, “Don’t Touch That Stone“.

But he changes his mind and puts in the windows. He designs furniture to be put elsewhere to at least (maybe?) put drawings. The collections coordinator for the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation noted there were several pieces of furniture, below:

Taliesin section drawing. The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York), 1104.011.

And

This drawing says “1104.011”, when it’s actually Taliesin II (“1104” means Taliesin I: 1911). 

Although, here former Archives Director Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer made the mistake.

There’s a photo looking at a drawer, or drawers. It’s been published a few times. I took a photo from the book, Frank Lloyd Wright, Selected Houses, v. 2: Taliesin, then put in an arrow pointing at the drawers:

Photograph taken in Taliesin drafting studio toward Studio alcove. The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York).

 

It looks like Wright gobbled up a bit of the terrace by 1916, where he put that set of drawers. He added a flat roof because he enclosed the terrace when expanding the room:

Taliesin Roof plan. The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York), #1403.019.

The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives, drawing #1403.019.

I added the red outline to highlight the roof, terrace, and descending stairs. So, he pushed out part of the room (expanding it), then added the flat roof on top. There was a door under that roof, so you could walk out to the terrace, then down the stairs.

So he did name the space!

Or part of it. He thought this area was part of the studio, and this was the “studio alcove”. He apparently kept it this way into the 1920s, judging from a later drawing, #1403.023:

Taliesin Floor plan, The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York), #1403.023

The drawing was originally published in Wendingen Magazine (in Holland) during issues it published on Wright in 1924 and 1925.

I’ve posted parts of this drawing before: here, here, and here (I like using it because that bastard didn’t create many drawings for all the changes he made).3

It occurred to me that, by 1924 he perhaps added two “studio alcoves” for the draftsmen that he wanted to live at Taliesin for extended periods of time.

After all,

by the summer of 1924, his personal life was looking up in (what he thought was) the end of his relationship with his second wife. Little did he know how things were going to change.

The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York). Wright standing at car outside of Taliesin. Mid-to-late 1920s.

This is a photo of Wright standing outside Taliesin apparently in the 1920s when he’s got kind of Knickerbocker-vibe.

actually, I just looked at the link I put up there: those don’t “have” a Knickerbocker look; those ARE Knickerbockers. I don’t know whether I’m proud or slightly disturbed that I instantly remembered that word. I can only imagine he was wearing those long black socks to keep the ticks at bay. 

He’s standing in the space that became Taliesin’s Lower Parking Court. The Front Office is out of the photograph, on the right. A recent photo of the area where he’s standing in the photo is here on Wikimedia Commons.

 

The photograph at the top of this post is printed it with a story “Flashback: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin was a refuge for illicit romance….” and was printed December 4, 2020.
Originally printed January 20, 2024.


Notes:

1. In the spirit of education, I’ve used those drawings from ARTSTOR a LOT on this site. Because I don’t want the fuzz (really, lawyers demanding money) coming after me. Hopefully I’ll figure this out because the site is supposed to be retired in August.

2. I have a feeling that some of you might be jealous and want to go onto that balcony. I’m no expert, but from a liability standpoint I can’t imagine anyone on a tour (or just visiting) being allowed up there. Because the edge of that balcony doesn’t even come up to my knees. If you fell off you’d either drop about 12 feet onto a concrete terrace; or 40-to-50 feet down the hill on the north side of the building.

3. While some of #1403.023 is incorrect, it’s not (as far as I know) in this area. You can always write me if you’re curious about what’s inaccurate.

Frank Lloyd Wright and Alexander Woollcott standing outside of Taliesin. Photograph in the Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Edgar Tafel collection.

A room at Taliesin

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Alexander Woollcott with Frank Lloyd Wright outside of Taliesin. 

a room that existed before we (or I) knew it existed.

I’m going to write about my discovery of that room’s appearance today. It’s the room with the windows that you see behind Wright, Woollcott, and the birch trees.

It was thought that the room was originally designed for Wright’s youngest daughter Iovanna (born to Olgivanna in December 1925).

Meryle Secrest wrote in her Wright biography that in March 1925, Wright and Olgivanna “made an impulse decision to start a family of their own.” [Frank Lloyd Wright: A Biography, 315]

Secrest gave no evidence for this “impulse decision”. Obviously something impulsive happened and Olgivanna was young and pretty, so I’m like, “Yeah… Sure.”

Here’s where it is:

The room is one floor above Olgivanna’s bathroom, so you walk by it as you go into her room on a tour through Taliesin.  

FYI: The bathroom was dismantled, so it’s not on tours.

You can see the outside of Iovanna’s sitting room when you’re on the Hill Crown at Taliesin. Wright added the parapet1 which you can see in this photo I took:

Looking at Taliesin living quarters on a sunny day in spring. Iovanna's sitting room is behind the parapet. Photograph by Keiran Murphy

Taliesin Fellowship apprentices did the construction of the rooms in 1933-34. Abe Dombar wrote about it in this February 9, 1934 article:

Two new rooms were added to the pageant of Taliesin’s 40 rooms merely by lowering the ceiling of the loggia and raising the roof above it to get the most playful room in the house.  The boys call it a “scherzo.”  This is little eight year-old Iovanna’s room.

Several new apprentices, with the aid of two carpenters, were working on the job continuously from the architect’s first sketch on a shingle to designing and building in of the furniture.  And the girls made the curtains.  In celebration of the completion of the room we had a “room-warming” in the form of a surprise party for Iovanna. 

Abe Dombar. “At Taliesin,” February 9, 1934. Reprinted in At Taliesin: Newspaper Columns by Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Fellowship, 1934-1937, ed. by Randolph C. Henning, (Southern Illinois University Press, 1991), p. 20-21.

It makes you think:

While kids may have been more hardy in the past, that is a lot of space for a little girl. Here’s one drawing that shows it:

The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York), #2501.008.

Although the rooms in the 1930s were smaller, there was still a bedroom, sitting room, and bathroom.

That makes sense

when you think of the playroom he scaled down for his kids in his first home in Oak Park, Illinois.  

I was told years ago that it was originally scaled down for Iovanna when she was 8, but I’ve never seen an interior photo taken at that time.

Not that this would matter anyway. Remember: Wright’s building scale already messes with your mind.

However,

The number of rooms is also due to things happening in the Wright family.

See,

when the Wrights started the Taliesin Fellowship in 1932, Olgivanna’s oldest daughter, Svetlana (“Svet”), was 15. So the next summer, Wright designed those bedrooms for both Svet and Iovanna (then 7 years old).

But things got complicated.

One of those complications was related to one of the first Taliesin Fellowship apprentices: Wes Peters.

No doubt

Olgivanna made sure to keep her pretty young daughter away from all of the architectural apprentices in 1932 and ’33. But it was all intense and, even if you had them working 15 hours-a-day, young is young and those two (Wes and Svet) fell in love.

They wanted to get married and Svet’s parents said absolutely not.

And, yes, Frank Lloyd Wright fell in love with Catherine Lee Tobin when he was, maybe 19-20 (Kitty was 16-17); and Olgivanna got married when she was 19, but the marriages for those two ended in divorce, so….

But, come on:

check out the screenshots from the film apprentice Alden Dow made in 1933, the first summer those two knew each other. They’re so cute:

Screenshots of William Wesley Peters and Svetlana Wright Peters in 1933 film by Alden B. Dow.

The movie is the property of the Dow Archives, but you can see it in sections through this link.

So, in September 1933,

Wes and Svet left the Fellowship, even though Svet couldn’t get married until she was 18. You can read about their history in this book, “William Wesley Peters: The Evolution of a Creative Force“.

Svet’s age (15 or 16), gets me scandalized, but then again: I’m no longer a teenager.

I mean: I was completely bummed when—in grade school in the spring of 1980—I found out that Sting was 28 years old and married. But then I realized that, “uhh… Keiran? Sting’s not waiting for you.” [I may remember this moment because I was surprised by that grown-up thought]. 

You can read my teenage thoughts about Sting in my post: “Dune, By Frank Herbert“. I wrote this about the second installment of the Dune movie by Denis Villeneuve coming out in March 2024.

To get back to Iovanna’s bedroom:

For years, we thought that before that area had rooms and a bathroom, there was just a mezzanine up there that ended above Taliesin’s Living Room.

You can see it at the top of this post.

And that it ended on the other end just over Wright’s bedroom.

To picture it, you can see part of the mezzanine in this post.

However, in 2004-5, I was asked to research the entire history of that floor up there.

So I did what I usually try do:

I try to wipe my mind of preconceptions2 and look at photos. And so, for the the first time, I saw something earlier photos at Taliesin that shouldn’t have existed at that time. I saw in these earlier photos a chimney flue for the fireplace that’s in Iovanna’s Bedroom. Among other photos,3 the flue appears in one taken in 1928:

Photograph by architect George Kastner of Taliesin. Taken on November 11, 1928.

This photo is published on p. 4 in the Journal of the Organic Architecture + Design archives, Vol. 7, no. 3, 2017 in the article for that issue, “Desert and Memoir: George Kastner and Frank Lloyd Wright,” by Randolph C. Henning.

That flue I pointed out goes to only one fireplace: the one for Iovanna’s Bedroom. Yet George Kastner took this photograph in 1928, 5 years before the apprentices even started working in that area. So it didn’t match what I thought I knew. I thought that, before 1933, this stone mass was simply… stone. That it was like the stone mass that’s on the south side of Taliesin’s living room. That this part was only stone.

Like what was in Hillside’s Dana Gallery on the Taliesin estate that I wrote about in “Truth Hiding in Plain Site“. That it was mostly stone before the Taliesin Fellowship.

But since I couldn’t deny what was in photographs,

I got in my car and drove to Taliesin to see what I could find.

I went upstairs, looking for evidence that things had changed. First thing I noticed was that the stone was executed at one time, as opposed to being changed later. See my photo of the fireplace below:

Interior photograph of fireplace in Iovanna Lloyd Wright's Bedroom. By Keiran Murphy on 9-24-2003.

Contrast this

With the fireplace in the adjacent room. In 1933-34, Apprentices built that fireplace out of the existing chimney. And it certainly looks like it.

I took the photo below where you see the side of the chimney. On the left hand side you see stone that used to be outside. The red stones were those that went through the Taliesin fires in 1914 and 1925. The lighter stone on the right is stone placed there by apprentices when they built the fireplace mantelpiece:

Side of the chimney in Iovanna Lloyd Wright's sitting room. Photo by Keiran Murphy in 2003.

 

After looking at the two fireplaces, I thought about that “At Taliesin” article. In the article, Abe Dombar says,

Two new rooms added to the pageant of Taliesin’s 40 rooms….

But there weren’t two rooms on that floor in 1934. There were three: Iovanna’s bedroom, the bathroom, and the sitting room (the room at the newer fireplace).

In fact, the drawing doesn’t label Iovanna’s bedroom. It only labels “Iovanna’s room”, which is the sitting room with the new mantelpiece.

And one more thing: the bathroom

You can see the bathroom in the plan above. When I started thinking maybe Iovanna’s Bedroom was there before 1933-4, I thought how it doesn’t make a lot of sense for Wright to build a bathroom out of line with the bathroom one floor below. Often bathrooms are in line with each other because this makes laying the plumbing lines easier.

yeah, yeah, yeah: we can talk about how impractical Wright could be as an architect, but at Taliesin he had to live with whatever he designed. And bathrooms are expensive, even if the labor was free….

Moreover,

in 2007, I looked at Taliesin’s drawings for real in Wright’s archives. Luckily for me, Taliesin’s estate manager suggested I take photocopies of Taliesin’s drawings so I could take notes on what I saw in them.

In drawing #2501.007, I saw the word “nook” in pencil with a line going about where Iovanna’s Bedroom was:

Elevation of Taliesin. The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York). #2501.007.

The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York), #2501.007.

I can’t tell you when 2501.007 was drawn, but the details say 1925-32. I think that in the early Taliesin III period, what became Iovanna’s Bedroom was originally a sitting room, a “nook”, that could be used as a bedroom if needed.

alas, we don’t have Wright’s design for the couch/bed simplicity of a futon frame

3 more things:

coz: in for a penny, in for a pound

One Taliesin drawing shows the “sash details” of the windows in Taliesin’s Living Quarters. This is drawing #2501.032. See the detail of it below:

The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York). 2501.032.

The three windows I pulled out from the drawing match the three windows currently on the east wall of Iovanna’s Bedroom. The drawing labels these windows as being for—not a clerestory or above the mezzanine, but—”Gallery Bed Room”.

Also, in 2006

The Taliesin Preservation crew worked in a closet in Iovanna’s Bedroom and found remnants of pipes going through the floor above Olgivanna’s bathroom. I asked what those pipes could be, and one crew member (I forget who) said they were small enough to be used for a sink, but not a toilet or tub.

Wright could have had this little room up there and if someone were just staying overnight, they could use the sink in the morning to brush their teeth.

One of those people might have been architect Philip Johnson

See, back in the 2000s someone emailed me at work. He was working on a book of interviews conducted by architect Robert A.M. Stern with Philip Johnson.

Stick with me here

At one point, Stern talked to Johnson about Wright:

Robert A.M. Stern: And in researching for the book [on the International Style] you also went to visit Wright?

Philip Johnson: …. We went to see Wright in 1930 in Taliesin East [sic]. I stayed overnight in the part that’s now all closed in and ruined, in the upper terrace there, just above the big room. We visited and had a great time and we realized that he was a very, very great man.

The Philip Johnson Tapes: Interviews with Robert A.M. Stern (The Monacelli Press, printed in China, 2008), 41.
The book’s price tag is over $40, but I’m that crazy: I got the book on sale for $10.

He mentions “the big room”. In 1930, there wouldn’t have been any other “big room” on the Taliesin estate except for the Taliesin Living Room.5 He was wrong about the placement of the room on that floor, but there was nothing else up there in 1930 that matches it.

OK!

I hope I explained what I found/think.

That is:

When Wright rebuilt his living quarters after the 1925 fire, he built a mezzanine above the main floor that ended in a small room with its own fireplace, three windows on the east wall, and windows (or possibly French doors) on the other side.

The windows above and behind where Alexander Woollcott and Frank Lloyd Wright are standing in the photo at the top of this post might have looked into this “nook”.

 

The photo at the top of this post was taken 1937-41 and published in Apprentice to Genius: Years with Frank Lloyd Wright, by Edgar Tafel, p. 179.
First published October 22, 2023.


Notes

1. He expanded the space and added the parapet in 1943 for an anticipated visit by Solomon Guggenheim (of the Guggenheim Museum commission) and curator, Hilla Rebay.

2. Which I remember every damned time I think about the window found in Taliesin’s guest bedroom that was staring me in the face for years in photos. I’ll write about it another time to go over it in detail. It’ll be penance.

3. I think I first noticed it in a photo that I can’t show because I don’t think it’s ever been published. It’s Whi(x3)48218, an aerial photograph in the Howe Collection at the Wisconsin Historical Society.

4. Her personal spaces were featured in a Wright Virtual Visit in 2021, which is on Facebook, here.

5. It wasn’t at Hillside because Johnson said they visited it and while it was a great building, he described Hillside in 1930 as “a total wreck”.  

Black and white photograph looking southwest in Taliesin's living room. Taken by Maynard Parker in 1955. In view: wooden furniture, plaster on walls, artifacts on tables.

Here’s another change at Taliesin:

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Maynard Parker took the photo at the top of the post. It’s Taliesin’s Living Room and he took it 1955 for House Beautiful magazine’s issue devoted to Wright.

In this post I’ll be writing about the horizontal wood shelf in the center of the photo.

FWIW:

if I haven’t told you already, I’ve never tried to figure out why Frank Lloyd Wright made any changes at Taliesin.

Well: the fact that his house has a kitchen, bedrooms and bathrooms is self-explanatory…,

but I’m talking about experiments or changes. Like Wright adding the skylight in the “Little Kitchen” to show Solomon Guggenheim how the natural lighting at his museum would work.

Anyway,

For years, there was a door just to the left of where you entered the Living Room. It came out of the kitchen (known now as the “Little Kitchen”).

That door from the kitchen to the Living Room was there all the way back to the Taliesin I era (1911-1914). At that time the kitchen’s doors opened into the hallway and the living room.

The drawing from 1911, below, shows the main entry, kitchen and Living Room. You can see where the doors were at that time:Floor plan of Taliesin living room and kitchen drawn in 1911 by Frank Lloyd Wright. Drawing 1104.003. The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art } Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York).

Here’s another drawing from 1925 (after the second fire) to show you the same doorway:

Floor plan of Taliesin's living room executed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Drawing number 2501.001, so may be the first drawing did of his house following the April 1925 fire. The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York).

The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives, drawing #2501.001.

Then

In 1943, Wright got the commission for the Guggenheim Museum and then prepared for Guggenheim’s visit to Taliesin.1 Wright made many changes to Taliesin at that time. I’ve always thought that perhaps Wright made changes in order to entice the new client.

It might be part of the other changes Wright made in the early 1940s that I wrote about over a year ago.

But

these are slightly here I’m writing about different changes in this part of the room in the early 1940s.

These were changes related to the connection between the Little Kitchen and the Living Room.

Here’s a photo with an arrow pointing at the door into the Little Kitchen.

Black and white photograph looking southwest in Taliesin Living Room, 1937. In view: wooden chairs and funiture, light limestone walls. Photograph has an arrow pointing at a wooden door.In the fall of 1937, Ken Hedrich (of Hedrich-Blessing photographers) took photos all over Taliesin and the Taliesin estate; while brother Bill took photos of that new Wright building designed over a waterfall.

By the way: I always struggle to remember which Hedrich brother took photos at Taliesin (Ken) and which one took photos at Fallingwater (Bill). I almost think I should tattoo “Ken Hedrich took the Taliesin photos” on my arm…. Although today I had to look for the answer from my own blog (the post “Hillside Drafting Studio Flooring“)…. So I’ll just keep this website and blog going for… well until I’m in my late 90s at least.

Wright expanded the Little Kitchen in 1943. When that work was complete, the large door near the fireplace no longer went outside; it just opened into the kitchen.

Since he didn’t need the door Living Room any longer, Wright just had the apprentices veneer the original door with stone. They did a pretty good job matching, too.  You wouldn’t really know it have been a door there unless you already knew.

Here’s a photo with stone where the door was, and the shelf in place:

Black and white photograph of the southwest corner of Taliesin's Living Room. Photograph taken by Maynard Parker in 1955.After he removed the wooden door and veneered it with stone he put in the shelf you can see there. I have never seen a photo with the stone, but no shelf.

While he might have just wanted that shelf there to draw your eye, or complete the design or match the trim on the south wall (that you see on the left-hand side of the photo).

But,

since a wooden door had been in the southwestern corner of the Living Room since 1925, the shelf under the bottom of the cabinet might really have been put there just to keep visitors from trying to exit the old way: the now non-existent door.

If you’d been a guest a few times at Taliesin, maybe you’d gotten used to getting a snack at night from the kitchen while staying in the Guest Bedroom? So, perhaps that shelf kept you from walking smack dab into a wall?

Now,

If you ever took a tour at Taliesin from 1994 until 2018, you walked into the Living Room and that corner was drywalled with gold paint on it. So the corner looked like what you see below:

Interior of Taliesin Living room. In view: wooden furniture, limestone walls, and Asian artifacts. Photograph from 1992.

The photo above is what that corner looked like when I first started working at Taliesin.2 And there were more rugs on the floor. That’s not original either. They’re rugs from the collection, but they weren’t there. Bruce Pfeiffer (former Wright apprentice and the original Curator of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Archives) used to say that many rugs in the Living Room made it look like an Asian rug shop. Well, former Wright apprentice John de Koven Hill was the one who “okayed” their location. Since “Johnny” joined the Taliesin Fellowship long before Bruce he outranked him, I guess.

Since the gold in that corner was determined not to be original to Wright’s lifetime, the drywall was removed. “Stilfehler” took a photograph of the corner on a tour and loaded it onto Wikimedia Commons:

Photograph of the Taliesin Living Room with wooden built-in furniture and limestone on the walls. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

First published August 26, 2023.
The photograph at the top of this post is also in the Maynard Parker collection at the Huntington Library. It’s online here.


Notes:

1. I thought for years that Wright did all these changes in anticipation of Guggenheim’s visit. You would, too, if you’ve read Working With Mr. Wright: What It Was Like­, by Curtis Besinger. But in 2012, the diary of Priscilla Henken was published. This was a daily diary that Henken wrote in from October 1942 to late August 1943. On page 195 of the diary, July 18, 1943, Henken wrote that the Wrights, who had been away for days from Taliesin, were back and that: “The contract is for a million dollar museum for non-objective art, sponsored by Solomon Guggenheim….” So: that changed things.

2. By the way: the photo shows the very end of the inglenook in the Living Room (it’s under the metal Asian statue). That’s got gold, too. Was that original? Yes it was. And I’ve been told it’s gold leaf.

Black and white graphic of the Hill Tower at Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin.

A recommended book: At Taliesin

Reading Time: 5 minutes

The graphic at the top of this page is one of the designs created by the Taliesin Fellowship for their weekly “At Taliesin” newspaper articles that ran from 1934 through late 1937. Architect Randolph C. Henning found these “At Taliesin” articles and put them into a book that I want to write about today.

The book is

At Taliesin: Newspaper Columns by Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Fellowship, 1934-1937, edited and with commentary by Henning (Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale and Edwardsville, Illinois, 1991). I included it in the list of books I wrote about awhile ago, but I’ll concentrate on it in this post.

In part because, this book  contains essential primary material about:

  • Frank Lloyd Wright
  • Taliesin, and
  • The Taliesin Fellowship.

Before this book, the “At Taliesin” articles were relatively unknown. Henning wrote in the preface that when he decided to search for them, he thought he would find several dozen.

Or 100 “at most”.

In the end, he tracked down 285 of them. He transcribed them, edited them, and also wrote commentary on and around them. 112 articles are in the book.

The book was only published once,

in hardcover. However, many copies are still available online and elsewhere for purchase. Online aggregate www.abebooks.com is somewhere I often look for books. I typed in the title found this  listing with over 30 copies.

And you could borrow it from your library.

I’m recommending it now because

once you get past its cover which looks like a college textbook

It’s actually a fun summer read.

Most of the articles fit on one to two pages. And many are just a trip. I mean that in a good way: many are a total blast.

As I wrote before:

“At Taliesin” “demonstrates why these kids in their early 20s would move out to rural Wisconsin to live and work with a man old enough to be their grandfather, and like it.

Their insanity reminded me that, yes, there was a time in my life in which I spent 4 to 5 hours on a Friday or Saturday night on a roof playing drums.

I was not a drummer. I was 21 years old.

Oh, that time passed quickly.

That’s just a year younger than architect Cornelia Brierly when she wrote this “At Taliesin” article in May, 1935:

Screen grab of an "At Taliesin" article published in the Wisconsin State Journal on May 22, 1935.

The whole article is on p. 125-127 of the “At Taliesin” book.

Secondly,

the book is a source about the life and culture of the Taliesin Fellowship. The authors wrote about things going on at Taliesin, but also, as Cornelia did, they relayed their thoughts on new ideas.

Most of the articles

end with a listing of movies that were to be shown at the Hillside Playhouse to the public on the coming Sunday afternoon. Because the “At Taliesin” articles weren’t just philosophical treatises: they were a bid by the Fellowship to entice an audience to come out and pay 50 cents for a movie and cup of coffee.1

The articles also gave weekly updates on building activities at Taliesin.

The July 4, 1935 article

tells you construction they did at Taliesin:

Fortunately, Taliesin is in an ever state of change.  Walls are being extended and new floors are being laid to accommodate our musical friends.  We are trying out the new concrete mixer – which marks a new day in our building activities.

Edgar Tafel. “At Taliesin”, p. 140.

I wrote about this change in my post, “Preservation by distribution“.

Thirdly:

The book has 38 fantastic photographs. Like the one below:

Black and white photograph looking southeast in the Hillside Dana Gallery

This is the fireplace in the Dana Gallery at Hillside. The photo is on page 201 of the “At Taliesin” book. I put this image in my post, “Truth Hiding in Plain Sight“.

and 20 drawings:

Black and white map of the Taliesin estate drawn from memory by John H. Howe.

The image above comes from 154 of Apprentice to Genius because I couldn’t get a good copy of the one on pages 6-7 from the “At Taliesin” book.

In addition, the “At Taliesin” book has 31 articles by Frank Lloyd Wright. In one, he

actually

compliments someone else’s architecture!2

Wright wrote in the August 9, 1935 article that:

…. In their jail and courthouse Pittsburghers own a masterpiece of architecture.  A great American architect H.H. Richardson of Boston built the building.  He was a big man in every way and his bigness was of a kind that not only marks a distinct epoch in American architecture but commands the respect of the civilized world. 

Frank Lloyd Wright. “At Taliesin”, p. 149.

In addition,

Henning wrote overviews for each year that the Fellowship wrote articles: 1934 to 1937. In the introductions to these chapters, he describes what was going on with the group, Frank Lloyd Wright, and the world at large.

Plus

Henning included articles about Taliesin written in the 1930s by professional writers. These writers came from the newspapers in Madison. They were invited out to Taliesin on the weekends. One writer, Betty Cass3 wrote about the “affair of the stringed instruments”. The article is a silly (true) story staring Wright and his wife, Olgivanna.

In it, Olgivanna watches as her husband keeps leaving the living room and coming back in with larger stringed instruments that have been delivered to Taliesin. They’ve obviously cost more and more money, but Olgivanna, helpless, watches as he comes back with them.

The last one is a bass viola. This was, Cass writes, “larger than he was, a regular Paul Bunyan of an instrument.” And Wright is mostly obscured behind it with “just twinkling eyes just peeking over the shiny brown side of the giant he was trying to strum.” “At Taliesin”, p. 308.

At that point, the humor of all of it got to Olgivanna, who started laughing so much that she cried.

 

 

First published July 11, 2023.
The graphic at the top of this post is used courtesy of The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York).


Notes:

1. I’m not going to reel off all the movies. Read the book if you want to see them! – you could binge them…

we’ll call it “Fringing”

(y’know: binging on movies seen by Frank Lloyd Wright).

Check out how Wright ended his penned article on August 9, 1935:

We are happy to announce the extraordinary program to be presented at the Playhouse this Sunday, Aug. 11.

Four films, of such importance and such different character, will form one of the most significant and delightful performances ever presented at the Playhouse.

Le Million, one of the best films by the greatest French director, Rene Clair,–no film made, unless it be another by this same director, has integrated sound and movement more beautifully;

A Dog’s Life, an early and rare film, one of the few remaining made by Charlie Chaplin;

Orphan’s Benefit, the funniest of all the 30 or more Disneys we have seen;

Czar Duranday, a wonderfully made Russian cartoon of a famous Russian fairy story.

Three of these films have been chosen from the finest we have seen during the past two years at the Playhouse.  Don’t miss this “picnic” next Sunday at three if you want to enjoy a hilariously entertaining afternoon.

“At Taliesin”, August 9, 1935. In the “At Taliesin” book, 150-151.

2. I know, I know: Wright insulting other people’s architecture. Most of us Frankophiles are aware of the man’s many traits, but some people really think he was an S.O.B.

3. Betty Cass is related to Bob Willoughby. He and I both worked at Taliesin Preservation and he read to us one winter at Taliesin.

This is drawing number 4930.006 in the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Library, Columbia University, New York).

I found another Taliesin drawing

Reading Time: 6 minutes

This is drawing number 4930.006 in the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Library, Columbia University, New York).

Two years ago I wrote here about when I found a Taliesin drawing of bunkbeds for a room at Taliesin in 1911.

srsly: someone needs to give me a commission for suggesting that the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation use this to market Wright-designed bunkbeds.

My post today is about another Taliesin drawing I found.

Several months ago I went looking at the drawings that show Wright’s drawings related to buildings on the Taliesin estate.

I did that because researching things related to Taliesin makes me happy.

C’mon: you know you’re not surprised.

You can see the drawings from 1910 at the Wasmuth Portfolio and in a number of books. But you can see also a lot of online black and white photos in the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives through Artstor.

Artstor is:

a nonprofit organization that builds and distributes the Digital Library, an online resource of more than 2.5 million images in the arts, architecture, humanities, and sciences, and Shared Shelf, a Web-based cataloging and image management software service that allows institutions to catalog, edit, store, and share local collections.

Every drawing in the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archive has an identification number. The first four digits of each ID comprise the project number.

So, like, all drawings for Wright’s Guggenheim Museum commission start with “4305.”

The first two numbers are because the commission started in 1943. Bruce Pfeiffer (a member of the Taliesin Fellowship who became the archivist for Wright’s collection) numbered the Gugg as that year’s 5th commission. So: 4305.1

I’ve got the project numbers for all of Wright’s buildings on the Taliesin estate. So I searched for those numbers at ARTSTOR.

You can do it, too, if you have the time. Just go to this page. Might not be something you want to do in the summer, but you could. Sure, you could!

One of the building projects that I studied was labelled:

#4930

4930 were drawings executed during the planned renovation of the “Home Building” at Hillside. Hillside is one of the buildings on the Taliesin estate. If you’ve taken a tour that went anywhere near the Hillside building, your guide might have told you about the Home Building. It stood there from 1887-1950, and is part of the site’s history.

In 1887, Wright designed the building for his aunts, Jennie and Nell Lloyd Jones when they were planning their new school (see the whole history of it here).

You can find lots of photos of the Home Building at the Wisconsin Historical Society. Here’s one below:

Black and white photograph of the Home Building at the Hillside Home School. Real photo postcard at the Wisconsin Historical Society.

From a postcard. Photo taken 1887-1915 (although probably pre-1915). Looking northwest at the Home Building. The postcard says “Hillside Home School”, which was the name of the school, but not the name of the building. Wright’s later Hillside Home School building (the stone building) was built to the left of the building you see in the photo.

When Wright published his autobiography in 1932, he described the building as “designed by amateur me and built by Aunt Nell and Aunt Jennie in 1887 to mother their forty or fifty boys and girls.”2  

Actually, he was so young when he first designed it, that none of the detailed drawings survive.3 But here’s part of what Aunt Nell wrote to the young Wright after he’d arrived in Chicago:

…. Do not take time to make elegant drawings if you are busy but send a rough sketch of what you think the best plan as soon as you can – as we hope to get men at work upon it as soon as the ground is fit in the spring….

 I write in great haste but with much love –

                        Aunt Nell4

Really: it was not a bad building for a 19-year-old to design.

After Wright’s aunts closed their school in 1915, the building and grounds stood idle for years.

Then,

in 1932 he and wife Olgivanna started the Taliesin Fellowship (his apprentice program).

The photo below

Shows work taking place at the Home Building. Apprentice Edgar Tafel took it and it’s published in his book, Apprentice to Genius. The photo was taken in 1932-33:

Looking northeast at two people working near the Home Building during its initial renovation. Photo in Apprentice to Genius, p. 29.

We saw this side of the building in the earlier photo. In the photo above, we’re looking northeast. In the earlier photo, we were looking northwest.

Apparently, he wanted to do a lot more, but he never got around to it.

Yet in 1949, he addressed the building again.

And that’s how come,

Bruce numbered this collection of drawings “4930”.

When I looked at them, I realized one of them wasn’t the Home Building at all.

Drawing 4930.006 is part of Taliesin. In fact,

the drawing shows the old dining room

I put the drawing of the old dining room on the left next to the drawing in the collection for 4930 on the right:

There were a few things in the drawing I recognized. The main thing is saw was the fireplace. It’s shaped like an upside down “T”. Not that far from it is the “entry” and the “cooling” room, just like they were in that part of the building. You can see where Wright drew little tables and chairs in figuring out the seating. 

I then sent the compared drawings to Kyle Dockery, the Wisconsin onsite Collections Coordinator for the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. He agreed that I found another Taliesin drawing. He thought 4930.006 shows Wright expanding the room. Which is why he had that large part (also shaped like a “T”) coming off on the left.

After this, I wrote my thoughts to someone at the Avery Library, since they have the drawings. I gave them my theory and sent them the comparison drawings. Shelley (from the Avery) wrote me back, agreeing with me and thanking me for my “meticulous eye”.5

By the way:

the continuation of the renovation was halted in 1950 when Wright ordered his apprentices to destroy the building. Leading to this fantastic photo of Wright “conducting a symphony of destruction”:

 

You can see it on page 6 of The Harvester World at the Wisconsin Historical Society. The image above links to that page of the magazine.

Why did he get rid of the Home Building?

It was part of Wright’s “cleaning up” of Hillside over the years. I think he did this because Hillside became his testing ground for large-scale designs. Here’s a photo of the walk up to Hillside that he created:

black and white photograph of Frank Lloyd Wright's Hillside building by Maynard Parker, 1955.Photograph that Maynard Parker took for House Beautiful magazine in 1955. Looking east at the Hillside Home School structure.

Because of the Home Building, for years you really could not have gotten a view like Parker got in the photo above. The Home Building would have stood right in the way of the photographer.

 

First published July 2, 2023.
The drawing at the top of this page is property of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and is from The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art|Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia, New York).


Notes:

1. I think the second number is the commission for that year. No one ever told me, but it seems logical.

2. Frank Lloyd Wright. An Autobiography (Longmans, Green and Company, London, New York, Toronto, 1932), 129.

3. One was published at the time in Inland Architect. It’s on this page.

4. Nell Lloyd Jones to Frank Lloyd Wright on March 9, 1887. FICHEID #: J001A03

5. Someday I’d like to get to the archives and look at everything they haven’t identified.

Photo looking west in Taliesin's garden court. Taken in 1929 by Architect George Kastner. Courtesy Brian A. Spencer, Architect.

Things I don’t know at Taliesin

Reading Time: 6 minutes

In 1929, architect George Kastner (then, a draftsman for Frank Lloyd Wright) took the photograph at the top of this post. It looks west in Taliesin’s Garden Court while stonemasons lay the wall that separates this courtyard from the other courtyards at Taliesin. This wall insured that this courtyard would be free from cars.

Today I will write some other things that I’ve not been able to figure out at Taliesin.

It’s part of the enjoyment all over Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin estate (and all of its buildings): there’s just so much to know!

I will just concentrate on the Taliesin structure (not the entire estate).

First of all:

while I thought you Frankophiles out there would like the photo at the top of this post

I am going to talk about what’s behind the wall you see under construction in the photograph at the top if this page. The photo is great, but there are things behind it that I haven’t figured out.

I’ll show two photos taken behind that wall that show what I can’t explain:

Photograph showing two wooden details at Frank Lloyd Wright's home Taliesin. The details indicate a change at the building.

You’re looking at the door into Taliesin’s Front Office. Its windows look onto Taliesin’s Entry Court.1

I put the arrows in the two photographs to show you the part that I’m curious about. The arrows point at pieces of wood embedded in the two piers. So it looks like something was there that was maybe horizontal. Was it a wooden gate?

The pieces of wood are gently worn and don’t look like they’ve been hacked off. But they’ve been there for a long time. And I cannot figure out when they were put there, or what their original purpose was. The piers might have something to do with the drawing from the Taliesin II era (1914-1925), below, but I do not know:

Cropped version of a floor plan for Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright's Wisconsin home and studio.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York).  Drawing #1403.016.

But they do not appear in drawings, and photographs give me no clue of their purpose or use.

Another Taliesin change:

There was something that Wright changed to the west of this area. It’s on the south side of the old cow barn.

Wright placed the cow barn under Taliesin’s original hayloft. I’ll point you to the area in the photo below, taken in 1912:

Photograph looking west in Taliesin's Garden Court (then the forecourt).
Wisconsin Historical Society: Photo by Henry Fuermann and Sons.
Collection: Henry Fuermann and Sons Taliesin I and II photographs, 1911-1913, 1915.

Looking west. Taliesin’s hayloft, the horizontal part of the building under the roof, is in the background. Further beyond that is a cow with a baby calf. They’re past where Taliesin ended at that time.

At the ground level,

under the hayloft, you see the outline of a stone pier under the left-hand side. The stone pier is on the south wall. Now, Wright changed this area, but I don’t know when. However, you can see the change in the stone, like in the photo that I took, below:

Looking (plan) southeast. I took this on August 12, 2005.

If you look at the stone wall, I drew over the two vertical lines in the stone that show change. The arrow on the top is pointing out a wooden window. The window must have been put there fairly early because it shows up in a photograph from 1914. I posted about it in my second part of “What is the oldest part of Taliesin“. I’ll show that photo again:

Postcard of crowd at Taliesin. Caption on card: "WEST WING. WRIGHT'S BUNGALOW". Property: Patrick Mahoney
Property: Patrick Mahoney. Published in “Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin, Illustrated by Vintage Postcards”. Ed, Randolph C. Henning. Page 39.
Unknown photographer.

A postcard looking (plan) northeast at the western façade of Taliesin’s hayloft, summer (the hayloft is under the roof). Because the collection of people are unexpected at a farmhouse, Randolph C. Henning (who put this postcard in his book about Taliesin postcards), thinks this was taken the day after Taliesin’s 1914 fire and murders.

I don’t know why he did this, but a change appears in a drawing.2

That drawing is below.

I expanded the stone pier in the drawing:

Crop of floor plan showing Frank Lloyd Wright's home and studio, Taliesin.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York), #1104.009.

On the drawing, you can see where I wrote the words “cow barn”. At the corner on the right in the cow barn, you can see the drawing of a door swinging inward. The pier to the right of that door is hand drawn.

Here’s my thought: maybe he expanded the cow barn and added the door there. But I don’t know why. Then he didn’t need it anymore so he covered it up.

Now, the last thing –

This was at Taliesin in the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s.

This is a change that makes me go, “Uh… Mr. Wright?…

wth are you doing?”

For reasons that I do not know,

Frank Lloyd Wright removed the wall corner one floor under Taliesin’s living room.

That wing of the building was rebuilt after Taliesin’s 1925 fire.

But later Wright removed a portion of the supporting wall at the corner on the ground floor of Taliesin’s living quarters. For years. Then, he changed it back to what it looks like today, with a foundation at the ground and walls, like you can see in the drone footage below:

Screenshot from drone footage seen on YouTube.

This photograph comes from the drone footage in “Taliesin in Spring Green, WI”. That’s available on Travel Wisconsin’s YouTube page.

Well, except for the ivy growing on the stone. Man! stuff grows so much in a Wisconsin summer.

So here’s what happened:

Wright rebuilt Taliesin in 1925 after that second fire, and the building looked like it does now. Then, for some reason, he removed a corner on the first floor of that wing.

So, the corner of the building, under Taliesin’s Living Room, was cantilevered. It shows up in a drawing better than it shows up in most photos.3 Check out the drawing, #2501.015:

Elevation showing Frank Lloyd Wright's Wisconsin Home and Studio, Taliesin.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York).

[Yeah yeah yeah: I know I tell you to not trust Taliesin’s drawings …. Unless I tell you to trust the drawings.]

It looks like that corner cantilevered there by 1936.

I theorize this based on photographs taken by Edmund Teske in 1936 while at Taliesin. Teske’s photographs show changes around that area of Taliesin’s north façade. It’s occurred to me that maybe Wright was checking on cantilevering? It’s not like he’d never done it before….

Maybe he was thinking about something else?

This is why

I never ask those questions (“why did he do that?”). Still, I’ve had this one question—regarding this cantilever—for… 15 years?

Anyway, I’ll try to show it to you. The good thing is that photographer Pedro Guerrero took a photograph at Taliesin in the early 1950s in which you can see the cantilevered corner, hidden underneath the summer growth.

This photograph was published in the Frank Lloyd Wright Quarterly magazine (v 8, n 3, Summer, 1997), p. 16-17. Here’s my copy of the photo:

Photograph of Taliesin by Pedro E. Guerrero. Photograph showing Frank Lloyd Wright's living quarters at his home, Taliesin. A drawn arrow points to a detail on the photograph.

You can find this photograph at Guerrero’s website. You click on the portfolio for Guerrero’s Taliesin photographs and keep clicking through until you come to it.

Although the reason why Wright changed it back is clear:

it has to do with sculptor Heloise Christa.

“Heloise” was a member of the Taliesin Fellowship for almost 70 years.

In 1990, she told the Administrator of Historic Studies of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Indira Berndtson, that Wright changed that corner in 1957. She knew that because the change was under Wright’s direction the year that she became pregnant with her son, Christopher.

Wright wanted to open up the space on the floor where Heloise lived so she had room with Christopher.3

 

First published May 14, 2023.
My thanks to Brian A. Spencer for allowing me to publish the photographs taken by George Kastner. That includes the one at the top of this post.


Notes

1. It wasn’t called the Front Office in Wright’s lifetime. It was sometimes referred to as the “back studio” (its space flows from Taliesin’s Drafting Studio to the east).
2. wow: something at Taliesin that exists in a drawing. It’s rare, but you can trust Taliesin’s drawings. Sometimes.
3. I know – once again a drawing at Taliesin seems to match reality. Strange stuff. For me, anyway.

Photograph taken at Taliesin in late summer. The structure has been built, although not all of the windows are in. One man is bending working on teh ground.

What is the oldest part of Taliesin? Part I

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Looking (plan) east at Taliesin from the balcony of its hayloft, fall 1911. Taken by Taylor Woolley, who worked as a draftsman for Wright at Taliesin. I showed this image in the post, “This will be a nice addition“.

While people don’t ask that question at other Frank Lloyd Wright buildings, it’s part and parcel of his personal home in Wisconsin.1 After all, he was already changing things after 1912, and he probably would have made changes at his home even if it never suffered two major fires.

And, remarkably, there are things at Taliesin that go back to 1911-12. Even where there wasn’t any fire.

Why am I bringing this up?

I thought I would share what people asked me sometimes while I gave tours. Hopefully I didn’t overwhelm them with info. But while “don’t talk about what you can’t see” is one of the tour-guiding rules, change was a part of Taliesin.

In fact, that’s true even in the photo at the top of this post. Wright changed almost all of the stone piers and chimneys that you see there.

Now, while Wright didn’t sit down in April of 1911 and say, “I want to change my home with Mamah all the time!”, he liked the flexibility of changing things as he had new ideas. He refined his ideas all the time, and his home was the best place see these new things.

After all, I’ve heard people say that –

Taliesin is like a life-sized model.

Even Taliesin’s most consistent feature, the Tea Circle, would change.

The Tea Circle

It’s a semi-circular stone bench where Wright and the Taliesin Fellowship used to have tea.

In the photo at the top of this post, the Tea Circle will be eventually built on the right, where you can see the man working under the two oak trees. They wouldn’t finish it until 1912.

So, the photo shows that they had removed all of the dirt around those oak trees, and built the retaining walls. Then they gave the roots of the oaks a chance to settle before making more disruptions.

But Wright’s plans included the Tea Circle at Taliesin almost from the beginning.

However, you can see that unfinished Tea Circle in another photo by Taylor Woolley, below. He took this in the spring of 1912. Taliesin’s basically been built, but the Tea Circle steps, and its stone seat, don’t yet exist:

Photograph at Taliesin in early spring. In view: pool on left, Flower in the Crannied Wall statue at Tea Circle.
By Taylor Woolley. Courtesy of Utah State History, Taylor Woolley Collection, ID 695904.

Looking west toward the Tea Circle. The chimney at Taliesin’s Drafting Studio is on the right. The Hayloft is under the horizontal roof in the background.

I used to look for the Tea Circle on plans to orient myself when I was first learning about Taliesin. I put one of Taliesin’s early drawing below, with an arrow pointing at the stone bench. Western Architect magazine published this drawing in February 1913:

Drawing of Taliesin complex. Published in February 1913.
Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York), 1403.011.

In fact, here are links to Taliesin plans that have the Tea Circle seat.

ARTSTOR says the drawings are from Taliesin II, but that’s wrong. I noted before that the former director of the Frank Lloyd Wright Archives, the late Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer, was wrong on the structural details of the building. But I never got the chance to talk to him about how he came up with the dates for the drawings.2

The Preservation Crew at the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation carried out restoration, preservation, and reconstruction on the Tea Circle in 2019.3 They had to replace a lot of the degraded/missing stone work there. Its form (and as much stone as possible) now matches what was there in when it was originally finished.

Anyway, here I was,

trying to figure out the date of Woolley’s photo showing the forecourt and unfinished Tea Circle.

that’s the problem with black & white photos: they make late fall and early spring look the same!

And, HOORAY! Wright’s scandals gave me the info.

See, on December 23, 1911, the Chicago Tribune sent a telegram to Wright asking to confirm or deny that he was living in Wisconsin with Mamah Borthwick.

(by then, she and Edwin had divorced, and she legally took back her maiden name)

The Tribune published his reply on Dec. 24,

Let there be no misunderstanding, a Mrs. E. H. Cheney never existed for me and now is no more in fact. But Mamah Borthwick is here and I intend to take care of her.

Since Wright’s telegram made things even worse, the next day, Wright and Borthwick invited the reporters inside Taliesin so he could give a public statement. He hoped doing this would explain things and take pressure off himself and his family.

It didn’t go well.

In part because Wright said, “In a way my buildings are my children”. The guy needed a publicist. But it was 1911; whatcha gonna do?

This disaster with the press answered my question:

As Wright escorted the reporters to the forecourt (now the Garden Court), he talked about upcoming work on the building and grounds. He said:

There is to be a fountain in the courtyard, and flowers. To the south, on a sun bathed slope, there is to be a vineyard. At the foot of the steep slope in front there is a dam in process of construction that will back up several acres of water as a pond for wild fowl.

Chicago Daily Tribune, December 26, 1911, “Spend Christmas Making ‘Defense’ of ‘Spiritual Hegira.'”

AHA!

There it is: at Christmas 1911, they hadn’t yet finished Taliesin’s dam! So the hydraulic ram wasn’t yet working to bring water to the reservoir behind the house, giving Taliesin running water and water for the pools!4

In contrast, Woolley’s photo has the fountain (on the left in the photo above). That means the water system was working.

More Taliesin photos

In January 1913, Architectural Record published photos taken in the previous summer. Click on the photo below for the link to a .pdf of that magazine. The link is the whole magazine for the first half 1913, so you’ll have to go through it.

Image from opening pages of "The Studio-Home of Frank Lloyd Wright". Includes a photograph looking West at Taliesin in the summer of 1912.

You go to the link (which has 6 months of the issues). You can find page 44 of the January issue, and that’s the start of 10 pages of Taliesin photos, like the screenshot above.

These Fuermann photos are what a lot of people envision when they think of Taliesin I.

You can also find them at the Wisconsin Historical Society in the Fuermann and Sons Collection.

And if you love them and want All The Fuermann Photos, you can buy the special issue on them that was published in the Journal of the Organic Architecture + Design Archives. They’ve got the photos Fuermann took in three photographic sessions. Architectural Historian, Kathryn Smith, explains their history.

More to come

I was ready to post this when I realized there are a few more things that you can see on tours that go back to 1911-12. So I’ll publish another post with more.

 

Taylor Woolley (then Wright’s draftsman), took the photograph at the top of this post. It’s at the Utah Historical Society, here.
Published November 16, 2022

Here’s “What’s the oldest part of Taliesin, Part II“.


Notes

1 I don’t think they’ll be offering tours underground any time soon, in part because the openings into some places are only accessible by crawling on your hands and knees. Like what I wrote on in “A slice of Taliesin“.

2 I didn’t want to come off as a snotnosed smarty pants. Although maybe we could have talked about it. He seemed to trust my opinion by the end. He respected my opinions on one drawing I asked about.

3 The restoration work is due to a donation by educator and Architectural Historian, Sidney K. Robinson.

Watch Ryan Hewson, of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation talking about the restoration of the Tea Circle the “Frank Lloyd Wright x Pecha Kucha Live 2020” event. Pecha Kucha is a fast-paced slide show, and Hewson’s presentation is just over 6 minutes. It explains the work really well.

4 I wrote about my study of the dam in the post, “My dam history“.

Looking west in the Taliesin Drafting Studio toward Wright's vault, with his desk at the lower right.

DON’T TOUCH THAT STONE

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Looking west in the Drafting Studio that Wright used at Taliesin until World War II (after that he used it as an office). His desk is on the right-hand side. If you look at the ascending stairs, you see two lines: one that is horizontal, and another that’s vertical. These are remnants from a change that occurred at the stone.

As I wrote in “I looked at stone“, the masonry used in Taliesin’s piers, walls, and floors often holds evidence of the building changes. So this post is going to be about two changes at Taliesin that are also visible in its stone. In this case, both of these can be seen in Taliesin’s Drafting Studio.

So, what are these changes?

Evidence of one change is on the west side of the room, and evidence of one is by the room’s doorway. I’ll write about the evidence seen in the stone because I hope they will stay there.1 Particularly because one of the changes is the only sign that something was there when Wright was alive. So I really hope no one touches it. That change is by the door on the east wall of the Drafting Studio.

First, though

There’s a sign of a change that stands on the outside of Taliesin’s vault that I want to talk about. That change can be seen in the photo at the top of this post, which shows the vault on the room’s west side. It’s by the steps that go up to the top of the vault.

Vault? wth are you talking about: I don’t see a metal door on this “vault” you’re talking about. You’re hallucinating.

Oh, sorry [she says to her cranky-alter-ego]: the stone you see is around a bank vault that is on the edge of the room. In Taliesin’s studio you’re looking at the back of the vault. You get into the vault through a bank door on the other side. btw: The steps don’t bring you into the vault.

Wright didn’t plan on using the top of the vault, because most of the vault was originally outside.

Ok, I’m getting ahead of myself

Let’s go back to the lines on the stone.

The change on the stone is the two lines to the right of the steps: a horizontal line and a vertical line. There aren’t any known photos or drawings that show the room’s configuration in the area to show exactly what wall caused those lines. But the lines would have been created in the ‘teens to the early ’20s. Looking at the lines though, I think they were made because a plaster wall/walls terminated at that spot on the vault.

Hold on – I’ll take you back in Taliesin’s history:

The photo below was taken when Wright first built the studio in 1911. So the vault wasn’t there. But you get a sense of how the west side of the room ended and that might help to visualize what terminated in the vault that was added later.

At the time the photo was taken, the studio was a rectangular room with a gable roof. The side of the room where the vault will eventually show up is on the right hand side in this one photo from the Taliesin I era. That photo was taken by Wright’s draftsman, Taylor Woolley:

Taken by Taylor Woolley in Wright's Taliesin drafting studio, 1911. Looking west.

Woolley took this 1911 photo looking west in the Taliesin drafting studio. When the room was finished, Wright put the drafting tables to Wooley’s left, as well as where he was standing, and behind him (you can see the other view of the studio in this photo). The two men in the background of this photo are unidentified.

Can you tell us what we’re seeing?

From what I can figure, Taylor Woolley was standing about where the lamp is in the photograph at the top of this post. You can see the building is close to being finished, because of the trim on the ceiling, but there’s still more that’s laid on the table in the foreground.

Wright scholar, Sidney Robinson, pointed out that the vault was probably built by 1913.2 That’s because there’s a drawing that was published that year that shows it. It’s drawing number 1403.011. If you click the link go to see the drawing online, they tell you it’s a 1914 drawing. But they’re wrong. The drawing was published in Western Architect 1913.2

And, oh sh*t – that means I’ve got to use a fricking drawing to try to prove something, and I’m always like, “don’t trust the drawings“…. OK: Let’s say we CAN’T prove that the damned vault was there in 1913, but it showed up in a PHOTO at least.

Black and white photograph looking (plan) west at roofs at Taliesin.

Standing on the top of Taliesin’s Living Room roof by its chimney, looking west. Taliesin’s Drafting Studio is to the left of the arrow, the vault under the arrow, and Wright’s private office to the right of the arrow. I know this was published in Frank Lloyd Wright: Man In Possession of His Earth, which was put out by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation in 1962, so that’s who I think owns the photo, but I’m not sure.

Based on details, this photo was taken between 1918-1921. Wright expanded the studio before Taliesin’s second fire, and so the vault was then inside.

ANYHOW,

The marks on the stone outside of the Vault come from its changes. Luckily the marks have stayed there, unmolested.

Additionally,

on the opposite side of this room, there’s another mark on the stone. This is on the stone column you walk by when you enter the studio. Here’s the room today. I put an arrow pointing at the column:

Photograph by Stilfehler and published under the Creative Commons License: Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International. Looking northeast in the Taliesin drafting studio.

Looking east in Taliesin’s Drafting Studio. The column is where the Preservation Crew found a window during Taliesin’s Save America’s Treasures project in 2003-04.
Photograph by “Stilfehler”, on Wikimedia.org.

That column has a red and white vertical line you can see. It shows up in the photo I took below:

Photograph in Wright's studio looking at east wall, with a double door, a stone pier, and the red plaster wall.

Looking east in the Taliesin Drafting Studio.

That red and white line is there because there a built-in radiator cover terminated at the column for decades. You can see that radiator in the studio back in to the Taliesin II era. Here’s a photo from 1917-18 that shows it:

Photograph ahosing Taliesin drafting studio with drafting tables, Asian art, and models. An arrow points at a radiator cover in the studio.

This photograph is a postcard that Wright’s sister Maginel gave to Edgar Tafel. The photo is published in the book, About Wright: An Album of Recollections by Those Who Knew Frank Lloyd Wright, ed. Edgar Tafel. Looking east in the Taliesin Drafting Studio. The black arrow is pointing at the radiator cover.

The radiator cover shows up in photographs throughout Wright’s life.

Yet

the photos also show he changed it. Originally, the radiator was perpendicular to the stone column. Then he moved the radiator from perpendicular to, to parallel to, the east wall.

But he kept what looks like the first cover. Maybe he made it into a little cabinet. Because a little door, with a handle, appears on the old radiator cover in several photos from the mid-1950s. These are at the Wisconsin Historical Society, like this one below:

Photograph looking (plan) southeast at the Monona Terrace model. Taken in 1955.
Photograph by George H. Stein (1913-2004). At the Wisconsin Historical Society, Image ID #29226.

Photograph by George Stein. Stein took the photo in December 1955. Looking southeast in Taliesin’s Drafting Studio.

You can see the part of the old cover with the door and door handle next to the Monona Terrace model. And to the right of the cover, you see the top of the radiator, against the east wall. The photo taken in the ’50s. So, maybe the radiator cover that’s in the 1917-18 photo from Tafel’s book has been turned into a cabinet, maybe? As near as I can figure out, the former radiator cover (that became a cabinet?) was there when Wright died.

Or I think it was there.

That’s because I came across a photo of it years ago that showed the radiator cover, and the cabinet. The Chicago Tribune published that photo in 1962 [that’s (W)right, after his death], I bought it on Ebay3 and it’s below:

Photograph from the Chicago Tribune of the Taliesin drafting studio. A cello, harpsichord and world globe on the right.

Looking east in the Taliesin Drafting Studio in 1962. The photo shows the radiator and Wright’s Asian art works.

There’s a note on the back of the photo saying “September 20, 1962”.

At some point that entire built-in was removed, along with that radiator. And the floor in this area, where the radiator had been, must have been removed/replaced, so you can’t see a sign that the piping was there. So the physical evidence on the floor is gone. And the only thing that remains (as far as I know and can remember from my time at Taliesin) is what’s on the stone column.

So, before I end this post, I’ll put in this request to those who might work on or restore the Taliesin Drafting Studio: don’t touch that stone!

First published, September 25, 2022.
I took the photograph at the top of this post in 2005…. And, despite what some might think, YES, he used that lamp on the desk!

 


Notes:

1 Not that I think people will chuck things out at Taliesin willy nilly, but sometimes stuff happens.

2 I don’t know where Wright got the vault itself. It’s fireproofed and must be heavy, but I never got the chance to do the research on where Wright acquired it.

3 Although I should say that Bruce Pfeiffer was wrong, since he’s the one who dated the drawings. Anyway, the drawing appears in the article was “Taliesin, the home of Frank Lloyd Wright, and a study of the owner,” by Charles Robert Ashbee, Western Architect, 19 (February 1913), 16-19.

4 There’s got to be some joke about historians prowling Ebay for things related to their obsessions.

Photograph of a section of Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin, fall.

Unfinished Wing

Reading Time: 5 minutes

George Kastner took this photograph on November 28, 1928. It’s looking northeast at the far western end of Taliesin.

“I don’t know why you say it was a pigsty,” Minerva said to me (Minerva became a member of the Taliesin Fellowship in the 1950s). “It always had goats.”

She was referring to a section at the end of Taliesin. It’s rectangular, with a shed roof, and stands over a sandy area. It’s never been lived in. I’d heard it was called a pigsty because Frank Lloyd Wright had the label “Hog Pens” in it, the first time it appeared in a drawing. You’ve seen part of this drawing before, but this part (below) shows the far western part of the Taliesin structure. “Hog Pens” is there, in and outline:

Part of the Taliesin II floor plan executed in 1924. Archival number 1403.023
Location of original drawing, unknown.

The drawing was originally published in Wendingen Magazine during issues it published on Wright in 1924 and 1925.
Then the magazine issues were published as a book, The Life-Work of the American Architect Frank Lloyd Wright, by Frank Lloyd Wright, H. Th. Wijdeveld, ed. (Santpoort, Holland: C. A. Mees, 1925).

Most of what you see in the drawing was designed as the “Farm Court”. It had the hog pens, a yard with a circular pool for the pigs, and a room on the right placed there for the boar.

Moreover,

90 degrees to the left of the Hog Pens was the poultry house. This space contained the entire chicken life cycle:

  • the “incubator room” (for hatching eggs),
  • the chicken coop (raising the chickens),
  • and the abattoir (harvesting them).

Between the poultry house and the pigsty/goat pen was the octagonal “Granary” with circular “Silo”.

Those two were never built. Even though Wright had drawings showing them.
See — I told you not to trust the drawings. But you didn’t listen to me, did you.

All of these spaces (for hogs, chickens, and feed) are all related to the photograph that is at the top of today’s post. And that’s what I’m going to write about today.

Architect, Brian A. Spencer gave me the copy of the photograph at the top of this post. This, and other photographs of Taliesin were taken in 1928 by George Kastner.

Kastner appeared in my post “Oh My Frank: I Was Wrong” and one of his photographs is in “Wall at Taliesin’s Garden Court“.

Kastner arrived at Taliesin to work under Wright on November 20, 1928.1 His dated photographs give us a certain date on details at Taliesin. Better yet, Kastner labelled the photographs on the back!

What did he write on the back of the photo at the top of this post?

Unfinished Wing

So, even though this part of the building had been around since 1924 (according to that drawing and photos 2 ) it was, according to Kastner (or Wright), “unfinished”.

Did Wright ever use this part of the building the way he originally planned?

We know this was built after 1920.

How do we (ok: mostly me) know that?

The Pigsty/Goat pen was added after the November 1920 drawing by Rudolph Schindler (I referenced the drawing in a post late last year).

And this part of the building existed by 1924 when the Tsuchiuras (Kameki and Nobuko) were at Taliesin.

But, then what? Did he ever have pigs there?

So, here’s what I did:

I investigated whether or not Wright had the time to finish this part of the building, what with a fire and bankruptcy and all that crap.

Although, I didn’t really do this. I just knew the work of the ones that did. 3

So, Wright’s life in the 1920s is abbreviated below:

1922

In August, Wright comes back from Japan after working on the Imperial Hotel for years. But, he probably didn’t have time to construct the farm wing before the winter set in. And he might have held off while trying to settle into other commissions. Because, in

1923

he’s in Los Angeles working on commissions from February through late September.

Then he was back at Taliesin in October and November, when he married his second wife, Miriam Noel. Then he was in California again from December until

1924

the end of February.

He’s back in Wisconsin near the time of the death of his mentor, Louis Sullivan (Sullivan died in Chicago on April 24).

Miriam Noel left Wright by late April/early May.

Wright stayed put at Taliesin for most of the rest of the year.

He meets Olgivanna in late November after a trip on in late November to see the ballet with a friend.

Looking at the dates and Wright’s availability, I think that 1924 was when Wright built what’s in that drawing: a chicken coop, hog pens, incubator room, and sure, parking spaces. He had the time, and perhaps thought it was time to get some farming done in Wisconsin (Wisconsin is the Dairy State after all).4

1925

In the beginning of this year, Wright, along with his new love Olgivanna and her daughter, Svetlana, was living at Taliesin. In April 20 of that year, the second Taliesin fire happens.

That little fire certainly pulled him away from thinking about the chicken coops on the other end of the building. So, Wright redesigned and rebuilt Taliesin’s living quarters for most of the remainder of 1925.

Then

In early December, Olgivanna gave birth to her and Wright’s daughter, Iovanna. The life of Wright and the three other people in his life (Olgivanna and the two daughters) for lots of reasons having

NOTHING TO DO WITH FIRES

goes off the rails for years. Due to this, Wright sure didn’t have a lot of time to think about being a dandy country farmer. 

And, while that part of the building did eventually have chickens (for years), George Kastner’s 1928 photograph says that the entire western side of the building was not, for years, used for farm work.

Originally published July 25, 2022.
The photograph at the top of this post is the property of Brian A. Spencer, architect. Used with permission.


Notes:

1 Kastner and others lived with the Wrights at the camp Wright designed in Arizona, Ocotillo. Several of Kastner’s photographs are in the article, “Desert Camp Memoir: George Kastner and Frank Lloyd Wright”, in Journal of Organic Architecture + Design, vol. 7, no. 3, 2019

2 I can’t show you the photos of that part of the building in 1924. They’re not owned by me and I have never been in contact with the person or institution that has the rights to them. The owners would be really (and justifiably) pissed off if I showed them. But I was able to show the photo of Taliesin after the 1925 fire photo months ago, because it’s published in a book. Although if anyone wants to get in touch with the owners and give me a call I’m sure I could do a good job writing about them.

3 Wright scholars have figured out Frank Lloyd Wright’s activities 1911-32. I found this information by looking in the books, FLLW: Designs for an American Landscape (185-201) (link to the Library of Congress exhibit web page, here); Meryle Secrest’s biography, FLLW: A Life, the book, FLLW: 1910-22, The Lost Years, by Anthony Alofsin, and “Wright and the Imperial Hotel: A Postscript,” by Kathryn Smith, Art Bulletin 67, no. 2 (June 1985).

4 ALTHOUGH, in some sort of Wisconsin crime against all that is perfect, the website “www.comesmellourdairyair.com” is owned by someone from outside of the state. Why, Vicarious Ranch in California of all things! They’ve got goats, pigs, lambs and a creamery, which sounds wonderful, so I hope they make a good living.

Exterior Taliesin photograph by Richard Vesey from 1957. In the Wisconsin Historical Society - Vesey Collection.

Taliesin West inspiration

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Looking (plan) southeast from the Taliesin Hill Crown toward the Plunge Pool terrace, with Wright’s newly-expanded bedroom on the left. Most of the landscape you see in the distance is the Taliesin estate.

I think something that Wright did at Taliesin West (in Arizona) inspired him in a change he made at Taliesin (in Wisconsin). That change was within the work as he expanded his bedroom in 1950.

Expanded?

Yes: here’s a quick and dirty history of the room:

It was originally constructed in 1925, then became his bedroom in 1936.

(he probably did some more changes at that time, but I haven’t figured them out yet)

And, in 1950 he expanded his bedroom to its current configuration (that one sees on tours). That change was accomplished by further building out the room onto the existing stone terrace that he had initially constructed in 1936.1

While Wright himself didn’t specifically say this, the change was apparently made for a photograph. That’s because Architectural Forum magazine was doing a piece on Wright that included an insert on Taliesin.

I like to say that Wright was “sprucing up the house” for the photo.

The photo shows Wright sitting at his desk in the bedroom and was taken in the fall of 1950 by Ezra Stoller and published in the January 1951 issue.

(Since the firm that Stoller founded, ESTO, is specific about people using their images

[like, I wouldn’t be surprised if they came after my ass for showing the photo even if I linked to their org, and even if followed “fair use” ]

so I’m not gonna show it here. But you can find that issue of Architectural Forum online. That issue is scanned & reproduced here.
It’s a 190 MB pdf [Portable Document Format], to give you a sense of how long it would take to download.  

Anyway, that’s not what I’m here to talk about.

I’m here to talk about other changes he made at the same time around his bedroom.

That’s because I was lying in bed a couple of nights ago when it occurred to me that the changes that Wright made in 1950 right outside of his bedroom were influenced by the spatial arrangements he had used at his winter home, Taliesin West.

I do some of my best Taliesin thinking at night. Unfortunately, I often forget a lot of what I think about,2 but on this occasion, I got out of bed and wrote it down.

So on this post, I’m going to explain that.

Here’s part of what Wright wrote in his autobiography in 1943 about Taliesin West:

Taliesin West is a look over the rim of the world….
There was lots of room so we took it…. The plans were inspired by the character and beauty of that wonderful site. Just imagine what it would be like on top of the world looking over the universe at sunrise or at sunset with clear sky in between…. It was a new world to us and cleared the slate of the pastoral loveliness of our place in Southern Wisconsin. Instead came an esthetic, even ascetic, idealization of space, of breadth and height and of strange firm forms, a sweep that was a spiritual cathartic for Time if indeed Time continued to exist.

Frank Lloyd Wright, An Autobiography, new and revised ed. (New York: Duell, Sloan, and Pearce, 1943), 453.

In fact, Wright changed a lot of things at Taliesin based on his winters in the Arizona desert. Only some of those things took place in the 1940s, like what I wrote in the post, “In Return for the Use of the Tractor“, he took advantage of the fact that he didn’t have to deal with Wisconsin winters anymore.

However, I hadn’t thought about changes that he made to the vistas around Taliesin due to what he’d observed in Arizona.

Not until that recent night.

Part of what I’ve noticed at Taliesin West (and I’m not alone) that he was using the exteriors of the structures to point your eyes to certain places. I think that’s part of being on the “rim of the world.”

So, while I laid in bed I remembered how, when one is in Wisconsin, the terrace outside of his bedroom (changed when he did things in 1950) gives you views that frame the nature around it that kind of look like what he did at Taliesin West.

Summer photograph of Wright's bedroom and terrace taken in 1957. Property: Scott Architectural Library

Courtesy, Scott Architectural Archives. Taken during the Spring Green Centennial of 1957. On that summer day, Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Fellowship opened up the Taliesin estate to “locals” and let them walk around all over. The photograph shows Wright’s newly-expanded bedroom on the left, with the hills across the highway (HWY 23) in the distance. By the time this photograph was taken, Wright and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation owned almost everything that can be seen.

Compare to the photograph below that I took at Taliesin West early one morning in February 2007. Wright’s office is to the left, with steps leading to an upper level, with the McDowell Mountains in the background.

Keiran Murphy's exterior photograph of Taliesin West taken on February 15, 2007.

Compare the photo above to the Taliesin photo at the top of this post.

See? Pool—Steps—Hills

Moreover, about the photo at the top of this post:

I was confused about the puddles on the terrace (around and behind the Buddha) until I saw the photo from the Wisconsin Historical Society, below:

Property: Wisconsin Historical Society - Vesey collection
Wisconsin Historical Society – Vesey Collection, WHi-64877.

You can see the stream of water, the white vertical line from the pool, and in front of the balcony. The puddle on the flagstones is in the foreground from that little fountain. It’s to the right of the metal Buddha in the middle of the photograph.

It you were standing at that spot then turned around, you’d see the landscape and fields just south of the Taliesin structure.

You see Tan-y-deri,

another building on the estate. That’s the house that Wright designed for his sister, Jane. The photograph below was taken toward Tan-y-deri by Janet Caligiuri Brach. She took it on Sunday, April 24, 2022 while on a tour:

Photograph taken April 24, 2022. Taken on Frank Lloyd Wright's Bedroom terrace at Taliesin.

Photo by Janet Caligiuri Brach. Used with permission.

Taken at the edge of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Bedroom Terrace, looking (plan) south. At the mid-point is the tower. This is the Romeo and Juliet Windmill. Tan-y-deri stands to the lower right of “R&J”.

Oh, and before I go:

Here’s something else from Taliesin West that Wright brought to Taliesin in 1950. That terrace with the pool (called “the Plunge Pool Terrace”) ends with the same kind of masonry that’s used at Taliesin West.

This was a dry concrete that the apprentices put into forms, with the limestone facing out. They put newspaper or other things over the stone, so when they took away the forms, you could still see the rock.

You can see this masonry in another Taliesin West photograph of mine, that I showed in, “Taliesin is in Wisconsin

I can show this type of masonry in a photo of the terrace that I took in 2005, below:

Taken by Keiran Murphy on May 17, 2005.

Looking (plan) northwest at the edge of the Plunge Pool Terrace with the that’s inspired by Taliesin West. This terrace was also apparently executed in 1950.

Published June 18, 2022.
The photograph at the top of this post is from the Wisconsin Historical Society – Vesey Collection, WHi-64841. Click here to get to their page with the image.


Notes:

  1. Since it’s been awhile since I wrote this, I’ll add it again: when I write, “he/Wright constructed this-or-that”, or “he/Wright expanded this-or-that”, what I mean is that he was designing or directing the work. His apprentices in the Taliesin Fellowship were doing the physical work. 
  2. That’s why my husband wants to get me something to write on at night.