Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Wright Stuff in the Suburbs

Harry Robinson designed several other houses in Naperville in addition to the Truitt House. After a childhood spent in Mattoon, Illinois, Robinson studied at University of Illinois and worked for prairie-style architects Frank Lloyd Wright and Walter Burley Griffin at different times.

Prairie Style was very popular for homes in the early part of the twentieth century and many of our suburbs still boast some of these houses. Wright’s home and studio in Oak Park offers tours and events throughout the year and you can drive by other houses he designed in Oak Park as well.

Taliesin, Wright’s home in Wisconsin, is actually Taliesin III after the first two homes Wright built on the site burned to the ground.

Wright left his Oak Park home, as well as his wife, to build Taliesin with his new love Mamah Borthwick Cheney. Cheney and her husband had been clients. In the summer of 1914, Wright was working on a project in Chicago. A servant back at the Wisconsin home started a fire at Taliesin and then went after everyone in the house with an axe. Seven people were killed including Borthwick and her two children.

Wright rebuilt Taliesin, but in 1925 a second fire started, possibly due to a lightening storm causing a short in a bedroom telephone.

Visiting Taliesin is a popular vacation event and docents there or at the Oak Park home are happy to tell you more about Wright’s tumultuous life.

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