Taliesin East Celebrates Its Centennial

Exactly a century ago this year, Frank Lloyd Wright built Taliesin, his architectural experiment and work-in-progress slipped into the rolling hills of Spring Green, Wis.

Its name was taken from his ancestors’ Welsh for “shining brow.”

“Taliesin was to be an abstract combination of stone and wood as they naturally met in the aspect of the hill,” he wrote.  “The lines of the hills were the lines of the roofs, the slopes of the hills their slopes…Finished wood outside was the colour of grey tree-trunks in violet light.”

It burned twice, and he rebuilt each time.  Since his death in 1959, it’s gone through structural restoration and constant renovation.  But it retains its revered status in American architecture today.

“To me, it’s a magical place,” says Jeff Grip, chairman of the board of trustees of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.  “First there are the rolling green Wisconsin hills that are so peaceful, and similar to the Welsh hillsides where his family was from. 

“And then there’s the way he embraces, respects and blends buildings into the land.  He had an incredible ego, but clearly he respected nature beyond himself.  There’s that magic, that respect, that creates almost a holy place that invigorates and pervades both inside and outside.”

The Foundation and Taliesin Preservation Inc. will be hosting a reception in honor of the building’s centennial at the Milwaukee Art Museum, Calatrava’s decade-old masterpiece, on April 28.

The museum recently opened a commemorative exhibit of 150 items from the Foundation’s archives, including drawings, home movies and artifacts.  “Frank Lloyd Wright: Organic Architecture for the 21st Century,” will run through May 15, 2011.

The April 28 reception is a fundraiser with a goal of $50,000 for the evening’s events, with proceeds to go to Taliesin’s restoration.  

Special guest speaker at the reception will be Boston Globe architecture critic Robert Campbell.  More on that in Wednesday’s A+A.

For more on the reception, go to http://www.taliesinpreservation.org/2011-centennial/2011-centennial-events

For more on the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, go to http://www.franklloydwright.org/fllwf_web_091104/Home.html

Photos by Judith Bromley

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