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1911 - 1925: Taliesin

Taliesin by Frank Lloyd Wright


Taliesin, near Spring Green, Wisconsin USA
Frank Lloyd Wright's Summer Home at Taliesin in Wisconsin

Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright's summer home in Spring Green, Wisconsin. On left is Wright's drafting studio. The living quarters are on the right.

Photo by Onbeing.org via Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Frank Lloyd Wright built Talieson as a summer home and studio, and also as a refuge for himself and his mistress, Mamah Borthwick. Designed in the Prairie tradition, Talieson became a hub for creative activity, and also a center of tragedy.

Until he died in 1959, Frank Lloyd Wright stayed at Talieson in Wisconsin every summer and Talieson West in Arizona in the winter. He designed Fallingwater, the Guggenheim Museum, and many other important buildings from the summer Talieson studio. Today, Talieson remains the summer headquarters of the Taliesin Fellowship, the school that Frank Lloyd Wright founded for apprentice architects.

What Does Talieson Mean?
Frank Lloyd Wright named his summer home Talieson in honor of his Welsh heritage. Pronounced Tally-ESS-in, the word means shining brow in the Welsh language. Talieson is like a brow because it sets on the side of a hill.

Tragedy at Taliesin
Frank Lloyd Wright designed Talieson for his mistress, Mamah Borthwick, but on August 15, 1914, the home became a bloodbath. A vengeful servant set the living quarters on fire and murdered Mamah and six other people. Writer Nancy Horan has chronicled Frank Lloyd Wright's affair and the death of his mistress in the fact-based novel, Loving Frank.

Changes at Taliesin
The Taliesin estate grew and changed as Frank Lloyd Wright purchased more land and constructed more buildings. Also, several fires destroyed parts of the original structures:

  • August 15, 1914: The servant who murdered Mama Borthwick also set a fire that destroyed the living quarters.
  • April 22, 1925: An apparent electrical problem caused another fired in the living quarters.
  • April 26, 1952: A section of the Hillside building burned.
Today, the Taliesin estate has 600 acres with five buildings and a waterfall designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The surviving buildings include:
  • Taliesin III (1925)
  • Hillside Home School (1902, 1933)
  • Midway Farm (1938)
  • Structures designed by students of the Taliesin Fellowship

Taliesin Centennial

2011 is the centennial year for Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin. For a roundup of events, visit the Taliesin Centennial Calendar

Learn More About Taliesin

Also See

More About Frank Lloyd Wright

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