MNN Galleries

6 destroyed Frank Lloyd Wright buildings

By: Matt Hickman on Sept. 27, 2012, 6 p.m.
Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin, in Wisconsin.

Photo: Kent Wang/flickr

2 of 8


Location: Spring Green, Wisconsin

Built: 1911

Destroyed: 1914, 1925 (fire)

Yes, Taliesin, Wright’s Wisconsin summer retreat and studio is still standing and open for public tours as a National Historic Landmark (not to be confused with Taliesin West, Wright’s sprawling winter compound in Scottsdale, Arizona; that’s home to the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation).

However, the living quarters of Taliesin — named for a sixth-century Welsh bard, by the way — were destroyed not once but twice by fire, first in 1914 and then again in 1925. The first fire was a tragic, headline-grabbing incident in which a male servant employed by Wright, Julian Carlton, set the home ablaze and murdered a total of seven people including Wright’s mistress, Mamah Borthwick, with an axe as they tried to escape the burning home. Borthwick’s two young children and four of Wright’s employees were also slain. At the time of the massacre, Wright was in Chicago overseeing the completion of his highly touted Midway Gardens complex.

In 1925, Taliesin’s rebuilt living quarters were once again decimated when a fire originating in Wright’s bedroom tore through the compound. It’s believed that an electrical surge through a newly installed telephone system following a lightning storm was responsible. Although no lives were lost, a massive collection of Asian art and artifacts that Wright had procured while building the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo was destroyed. Once again, Wright rebuilt and renamed the home Taliesin III.