Rare Taliesin Images

When I was a boy I traveled often with my family to Spring Green to visit my great aunts. They lived in town and earned income from the family farm a bit north of the village. Not too far south of Spring Green — across the Wisconsin River in Iowa County — is Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright’s home and one of the most important works of art in Wisconsin. What we see today on the brow of the hill is merely the last and latest incarnation of Wright’s home and retreat. It has suffered from fire, harsh Wisconsin winters and, a few years ago, an oak tree that fell on part of the building. Taliesin was an ongoing experiment for Wright as he expanded and altered spaces up until his death in 1959.

Wright first built at Taliesin in 1911 and it was this structure that was so damaged in the murderous fire of 1914 that is recounted in Nancy’s Horan’s popular novel, “Loving Frank.” Sadly, few images of the original building exist.

In 2005 a rare album of photos appeared on eBay that Wisconsin historian Jack Holzhueter called “a Rosetta stone for the building.” In a matter of days, he helped pull together the money that allowed the Wisconsin Historical Society to purchase the album. You can read about that adventure here.

Through March 13, you can view images from the album at the Wisconsin Historical Museum on the Capitol Square in Madison. Presented as framed reproductions in the first floor gallery, they are a wonderful collection including interiors, exteriors and landscapes. If you care about Wright, Wisconsin, history or art, it is well worth a visit.

–Michael Bridgeman

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