Tales of Taliesin

Today we drove an hour from the campground for a two hour tour of Taliesin and Hillside, which are celebrating their 100th anniversary this year. They were the summer home and architectural school of Frank Lloyd Wright during his lifetime and the school is still in operation today. The students were preparing for an evening celebration of Wright’s 144th birthday the day we were there.

We were allowed to photograph only the exteriors, some of which are shown here. The first two are of Hillside and the last three are of Taliesin.

Front Entrance of Hillside School of Architecture - the building includes a theatre and a 5,000 sq. ft. drafting studio.

The tour guide was very knowledgable (as they always are at Wright buildings) and explained Wright’s true genius – his students paid tuition and were the work crew who constructed the buildings, cooked, cleaned and ran the farm. Sweet deal for Wright, eh?

Cornerstone of Hillside which reads 'F L L WRIGHT ARCHITECT 1903'

The most interesting thing I learned was that these buildings were used as a continual experimental work in progress and they were only inhabited in the summer months. In winter the household and students stayed in Taliesin West in Scotsdale, Arizona. Wright lived and worked at Taliesin from 1911 until his death in 1959.

Garden Terraces at Taliesin

Because the buildings were experimental, exterior terraces were often converted into interior rooms (sometimes in as little as two days, to fulfil a whim of Wright’s to impress a visiting dignitary), so there were no proper foundation footings. This causes major problems for the preservation of the structures today.

Taliesin

As in all Wright construction, these buildings use natural and local materials wherever possible, so stone and wood make up the majority of the structure. This makes the buildings blend harmoniously with the land. We were so pleased to be able to tour this remarkable testament to Wright’s artistic vision.

Karen and John say farewell to Taliesin

After our tour we drove back to downtown Deforest (a few blocks from our campground) to attend the Dragon Art Fair. Several streets were blocked off for the day for a display of arts and crafts booths and a field of classic cars. The local fire hall was celebrating its centennial so we bought hamburgers (we wanted cheeseburgers but the fireman said they ran out of cheese and John told him we could not believe Wisconsin the Dairy State was out of cheese!) and enjoyed the displays for an hour or so. The weather was really hot so we headed back to the campground for a swim in the pool.

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