We have sought him out in many places, but it was time to visit the Frank Lloyd Wright home, Taliesin, in Spring Green, Wisconsin. He chose this area where he was raised to build his home and what became his school. The name he gave his house is Welsh for “Shining Brow” (right, Alan?) and the buildings on 600 gorgeous acres nestle into the crest or brow of a hill with a beautiful valley view. A good Welsh Unitarian, he embraced the Unitarian focus on nature and the oneness of all creation, and manifested that feeling in all his work.
The entire estate is massive. We did the highlights tour which – in a quick two hours – showed us the two major parts of the complex. It begins at the Visitors’ Center, which Wright designed as a client conference center with a restaurant overlooking a river.
Our tour commenced at the Hillside Studio. Originally a school run by Wright’s aunts, he converted it to his architecture school in the 30’s. We could only photograph exteriors, so I could take no shots of the amazing drafting studio, which was being used by architecture students of the school as we walked through. For us, this was the most-breath-taking FLW space ever, and it alone is worth the trip. This shot is cribbed, but will give you some idea if you haven’t ever seen pictures of this space, or the real thing.
Another part of this complex was a delightful theatre which is still in use, as are all the spaces at Taliesen. We were also able to see the famous Romeo and Juliet windmill Wright designed for his aunts. They said it would never work, but it was very cleverly designed with work with the winds to do its job. You can see the FLW touches all through the buildings. The gull-wing-type windows on the long low building illuminate the drafting studio, which was brilliantly sited to take advantage of the natural light.
The next stop was the home itself, which is actually in three parts: the farm, Wright’s personal studio, and the residence. Again, no interior shots, but we could admire the outside and the setting. As for the interior, there were two major fires, which required rebuilding, and Wright was constantly changing the structure. Consequently, it seems a less-coherent vision than those buildings done for clients who were never supposed to change a thing! But nevertheless, it was wonderful to breathe the air, duck under the low overhangs and entries and admire the relationship to nature. Absolutely worth a visit.