August 15: Wright’s House On Fire (Again)

2016/08/15 § Leave a comment

On this day in 1925 a fire destroyed Taliesin–again.

It was probably an electric surge occasioned by a lightning storm that caused the blaze that completely destroyed Taliesin II and prompted Wright’s construction of Taliesin III, which is what you see when you go to Spring Green today.

One wonders if Wright ever considered the house cursed; perhaps it had reason to be.  Starting in 1911, Wright built Taliesin to escape social censure after he abandoned his family in favor of pursuing a relationship with Mamah Cheney.  On a summer night in 1914 a servant, clearly unhinged, set fire to the house and gruesomely murdered seven people within it, including Mamah and her two children.  It’s hard to fathom that a person would want to remain in a place that had seen such horrific violence, but Wright rebuilt.  It was the reconstructed house that burned in 1925.

Since that time, Taliesin has had no further disasters by fire, although it has tottered on the brink of survival for other reasons.  Wright conceived of Taliesin as an experiment to build and rebuild, usually with cheap materials and the free labor of acolytes that swarmed to absorb the master’s greatness.  This approach has proven a serious trouble for caretakers interested in preserving the building as it looked when Wright lived and worked there, but perhaps is grist, if not kindling, for the very bad juju that swarms this otherwise bucolic property in Wisconsin.

Image: the rebuilt dining/living room in 1926 (from this source)

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You are currently reading August 15: Wright’s House On Fire (Again) at Clio’s Calendar: Daily Musings on Architectural History.

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