I finally got a chance to skip out for a while on a business visit to Richland Center, Wisconsin (birthplace of Frank Lloyd Wright) and dash over to nearby Spring Green to tour Taliesin, Wright’s summer home and studio.

I can see why Wright always came back to his roots in this amazing spot on the Wisconsin River.  It’s a serenely beautiful place.


The site is something of a “Wright’s greatest hits” — its buildings are representative of Wright’s different works through the years and around the country, since this is where Wright and his students did their experimentation.  So, for example, the oldest part of the school building is reminiscent of the George Barton house of the Darwin Martin Complex in Buffalo; the theater foyer evokes the Usonians; and the latest bedroom additions (for Wright and his wife) have the feel of those at Fallingwater.

The buildings are wonderful but fragile.  Everywhere are signs of deterioration — heaving stairways, uneven floors and walls, and sagging floors and foundations.  Much of the construction was done by inexperienced students, and even the basic and vital notion of proper compaction of earth prior to building was missed in many places.  Wright believed houses shouldn’t outlive their owners, so none of this crumbling would likely bother him.  But it certainly makes the job of the preservationists difficult and expensive.

The thought I couldn’t escape as our knowledgeable tour guide told the story of Wright’s life was that he was a great man — but he was assuredly not a good man.  Sad…