TALIESIN: Welsh, Arthurian Romance. Means “shining brow”, derived from Welsh tal “brow” and iesin “shining”.

One neat thing about Wisconsin is Frank Lloyd Wright. Yes, the famous architect who designed more than 500 homes, original and innovative offices, churches, schools, skyscrapers, hotels, museums and other structures was born here. I love his houses. Ennis House in Los Feliz hills in L.A. was near my old apartment and was used in the movie Bladerunner. Many of the homes are in the suburbs of Chicago. The Guggenheim museum in NYC may be one of his most famous designs. I jumped at the chance to visit his famous Taliesin estate in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Wright believed in designing structures that were in harmony with humanity and its environment, a philosophy he called organic architecture. This is evident in Taliesin, which he built as a home, studio and working farm.

Sadly, a tragic incident is tied to Taliesin. On August 15, 1914, while Wright was in Chicago, Julian Carlton, a male servant who was mentally unstable, set fire to the living quarters of Taliesin and murdered seven people with an axe as the fire burned. The dead included Wright’s mistress Mamah Northwick Cheney; her two children, John and Martha; a gardener; a draftsman named Emil Brodelle; a workman; and another workman’s son. Two people survived the mayhem and helped put out the fire that almost destroyed the house. Carlton swallowed hydrochloric acid immediately following the attack in an attempt to kill himself. He was unable to speak and died from starvation seven weeks later in jail.

TaliesinOur tour guide told us Wright decided to rebuild what had been destroyed, making it slightly bigger. Years later, lightening struck and burned the same part of the house. Again, Wright rebuilt it bigger. One more lightening strike occurred in later years, with less damage. Is this beautiful oasis cursed or just unlucky? Well, it’s still standing and not just open for tours. It also acts as a school and living quarters for architectural fellowship students.

Covering spaces designed by Wright in 1902, 1911, 1932, and 1952, the estate tour walked us through:

  • Wright’s personal Studio
  • The Living Room
  • Wright’s Guest Bedroom
  • Wright’s Bedroom
  • Mrs. Wright’s Bedroom
  • The newly restored Loggia and Loggia Terrace

Whether you’re an architecture buff or not, Taliesin is a site to be seen. Have you ever been? Tell us what you think…

Taliesin Estate Tour

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