5607 County Road C, Spring Green, WI, USA
www.taliesinpreservation.org - (608) 588-7090
Taliesin Wisconsin Spring Green Reviews
Taliesin and the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture Jul 05, 2009
Wisconsin was lucky enough to produce one of the greatest Architects of all time; Frank Lloyd Wright.
The talent evident even in his teenage years, Wright began his secondary education as an engineer. Only three months before getting his degree he headed to Chicago to pursue his passion of architecture. Eventually, growing tired of the Victorian style that his mentor designed, Wright believed that a country as great as the United States should have its own, defined style of buildings, so he set out to create a new style of architecture with clean lines, walls of windows (unheard of back when all walls were load-bearing), and made of nature materials.
Through more than a decade in Chicago, Wright married and had six children. He was eventually commissioned by a wealthy couple to design and build a new home. Wright and the man's wife, Mamah Borthwick Cheney, instantly hit it off, fell in love, and left their spouses to start a scandalous new life together. The new couple left Chicago and moved to Spring Green, WI - which is where Wright's Welsch extended family lived and where Wright was raised. Wright designed and built Taliesin (meaning "Shining Brow") as a monument to his love for his mistress. The home was finished in 1911.
In 1914 Wright went off to work on lengthy project in another state. Mamah remained at Taliesin with her 2 children. An angry house-hand locked Mamah, her children, and other craftsmen in the dining room while they were eating dinner, pour gas under both doors and lit the room on fire. As the victims tried to jump out of the window to escape the fire, the house-hand killed them with an axe. Two of the craftsmen got away and ran for help but not before nearly the entire living quarters of the house burned to the ground.
Taliesin was soon rebuilt, a bit bigger than the original, only to have it burn down again in 1925 due to what is believed an electrical storm which started an electrical fire in the home. Again, the home was rebuilt, a bit bigger still, to what remains today.
One of the last great visitors of this home was a meeting which sealed the deal for Wright to design and build the NY Guggenheim museum. Neither Solomon Guggenheim or FL Wright lived to see the day of Grand Opening. Both died within a few months just before the project was completed in 1969.
Frank Lloyd Wright was buried in a cemetery nearby which is in the shadow of the very first chappel he built in honor of his grandfather's death in 1886. The chapel is called Unity Chapel. Much of his family is still buried there today. Upon the death of his third wife in 1986, Wright was exhumed and moved to an adjoining grave with his wife now located at Taliesin West in Arizona, however, a grave marker still stands at the original sight in Wisconsin. Martha Borwick, his murdered mistress and her children are also buried near the Unity Chapel.
At the time Frank Lloyd Wright lived there the rolling estate produced much of its own food; agriculture, livestock, and a man-made lake and generating station created its own electricity. Even a vineyard still stands today.
This home is an absolutely gorgeous and innovative structure which wraps around the brow of a hill with magnificent views. Though the last rebuild in 1925 appears to have been done in haste as a wing of the home (living quarters) is sliding precariously close to falling down the hillside as the structure erodes. This home is an iconic treasure that must be saved!
Also nearby is the FLW School of Architecture which is still an active University. Capable of housing 70 students for a 12 month term at $30,000 per year, the tuition also covers moving to Taliesin West for the winter, which is in Arizona.
The school was built in 1902 and hand selects students today just as FLW did; 1) a love of architecture and 2) a love of music.
This sprawling property stands just as it did when it was built - and features dorms, a theater, a dining room large enough for everyone, and FLW's studio.
Various tours are offered of each of the properties. I took the highlight tour which covered the school and his home. The tour was $52 per person and lasted 2 hours.
Half day tours are also offered as are tours exclusively of the home, the grounds, and other homes nearby where FLW family members lived.
Part of the Wisconsin's Four Seasons - Green Bay travel blog
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