Frank Lloyd Wright's Ashes

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Randolph C. Henning
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Post by Randolph C. Henning »

Intrinsic or not, lets just say that if FLlW had actually built the Unity Temple before he died it would be a built FLlW work and a valued, unquestionable, undisputed and accepted part of the Taliesin experience, would it not? There might have been criticism, retrospection, second guessing (i.e. Monday morning quarterbacking) over the years afterwards, as with many of his projects, but no one would question why it was built. So why "too little, too late" now? Food for thought.

DRN
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Post by DRN »

So why "too little, too late" now? Food for thought.
Interesting point...55 years into an eternity is a blink of an eye.

I'm hoping once the acolytes of Olgivanna have left this existence, someone in a position of responsibility will honor the wishes of Wright and return his cremains to their original cemetery if that is possible, (were they scattered in the desert?) and either place them in their original plot, or place them in the tomb he designed. For Olgivanna to have ordered an exhumation and cremation for someone who clearly chose to be buried intact in a specific place was unconscionable and should be reversed to whatever extent possible. Place was everything to Wright.

My logical side however, believes money put toward the construction of the new Unity Chapel could be more effective in the ongoing maintenance of the Taliesin/Hillside estate.

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

Chahroudi, Haddock, Pottery I, Pottery II, Bell, Jester, Yahara, Tydol, Monona Terrace ... varying in as-built quality from superb to laughably awful, all the projects undoubtedly began with the best of intentions to create a true FLW building. Few succeeded. The risk is great.

As DRN says, best to use the money to hold Taliesin together.

Maa
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Re: FLW ashes

Post by Maa »

Laurie Virr wrote:
Fri May 28, 2010 2:30 am
Palli Davis Holubar here makes her usual perceptive contribution.

In her heart of hearts Olgivanna knew that she was never more than second best in the affections of Frank Lloyd Wright. Mamah Borthwick Cheney was the love of his life.

The architect incorporated some of the stones blackened by the fire at Taliesin in Wisconsin into the new structure, and these would have been a constant reminder to Olgivanna of her position in the scheme of things. Surely this was not the least of the reasons she embraced the construction of Taliesin West with such alacrity?

Exhuming the remains of Frank Lloyd Wright from the site he had chosen for his grave, next that of Mamah Borthwick Cheney, and disposing of them in the manner Olgivanna requested, was the final act of revenge against the woman whose shadow had hung over her for more than 60 years. That her daughter and confidants acquiesced to this act, which was both petty and monstrous, says nothing for their characters.

Was the exhumation an officially authorized act? If not, did not such act constitute a Federal offense, and why were charges never laid?
I completely agree that moving his ashes was due to jealousy, and likely also insecurity or ego. From stories of how Olgivanna treated people, she appears to have a high opinion of herself and a huge ego; that could be due to her own inflated opinion of herself, or insecurity due to knowing Mamah was the love of Wright's life and she'd always be second best.

I read that Olgivanna wanted FLWs ashes mixed with hers, and interred, with her first daughters ashes as well, somewhere in Taliesin West, not mixed into the walls. I find it hard to believe that FLW would want to be buried anywhere else than in Wisconsin, with his family and Mamah. While Iovanna may have been somewhat coerced into signing off on moving his ashes, imo she had her own motives as well, otherwise why, when Robert Llewellyn Wright called moving his father's ashes a desecration did Iovanna send him a telegram stating "The heritage of Taliesin is not for the likes of you." As FLWs son, who was close with him, both Taliesins are part of his heritage. The fact that none of FLWs other children were consulted, let alone notified, their father was being exhumed, cremated, and moved, implies those involved knew they were wrong to do it and would have been stopped if his other children knew before it was a fait accompli. When one looks at the difference in the lives of FLWs earlier children and Iovanna, it's clear she took after Olgivanna.

I find it very sad that the resting place of such a talented, creative genius is unknown to those who wish to pay him tribute and honor him. One thing Frank Lloyd Wright did not want to be was unknown. I doubt that would be any different for him in death.

https://bethesdamagazine.com/bethesda-m ... ght-house/

https://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/ro ... re-6432444

https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/ ... 6de77bee8/

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.chicag ... y,amp.html

https://madison.com/news/a-grave-marker ... bb404.html

owenCollins
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Re: Frank Lloyd Wright's Ashes

Post by owenCollins »

find it very sad that the resting place of such a talented, creative genius is unknown to those who wish to pay him tribute and honor him. One thing Frank Lloyd Wright did not want to be was unknown. I doubt that would be any different for him in death.
Based on this comment from the 1985 Chicago Tribune article:
When Peters was finally reached at Taliesin West, he said the foundation is already at work on the design of a memorial for the Arizona grounds. ''It is to be a garden space, surrounded by a wall, where both Wright`s and Olgivanna`s ashes will be interred.''
Could you consult the record of the Taliesin West Preservation Master Plan: https://1sd06y38jhbh1xhqve6fqmc1-wpengi ... tion-2.pdf

And try to deduce some possible locations of the ashes?

SDR
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Re: Frank Lloyd Wright's Ashes

Post by SDR »

Thanks for that link, Owen. In the linked document is found both a wealth of historic images of Taliesin West, and an irreplaceable timeline of construction and modification.

S
"As a former copy editor, I always feel I am defending the person whose name is being misspelled, not attacking the person who misspells it." Ronald Alan McCrea (1943-2019)

Rood
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Re: Frank Lloyd Wright's Ashes

Post by Rood »

Speculations on why Mrs. Wright wished to relocate his remains to Arizona are way off the mark.
One year, in the 1970's, she returned to Wisconsin ... and almost immediately visited the grave yard.
To her everlasting disgust ... she found empty beer bottles scattered over Mr. Wright's grave. Obviously, that was the last straw.

I was not party to the decision of where to put their combined ashes, or where they might be now ... but over a dozen years ago I happened to see a you-tube video, made by about four former male and female apprentices (who must have been at Taliesin West at the time the ashes were interred). They were cavorting around and even lying on top of a garden wall, which greatly puzzled me, as to their purpose.

However, something they said, and the way they acted, convinced me that that wall was and probably still is ... "the" location of the remains. Though my insight is also pure speculation, decisions made later by others have only reinforced my understanding of the truth of the matter.

jay
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Re: Frank Lloyd Wright's Ashes

Post by jay »

I find it very satisfying to think Wright's remains would be somehow bound into a garden wall. There's much focus on Wright's use of windows and trellises to integrate the building to its natural surroundings, while the garden wall seems to get less focus.

Rood, do you know where this wall is, precisely? And if so would you be willing to share it's location?

Roderick Grant
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Re: Frank Lloyd Wright's Ashes

Post by Roderick Grant »

Perhaps I'm just not sentimental, but frankly, my dears, I don't give damn.
When I drop, I shall be cremated and tossed to the winds ... or into the trash, I could not care less.

Rood
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Re: Frank Lloyd Wright's Ashes

Post by Rood »

jay wrote:
Sun Feb 14, 2021 10:08 am
I find it very satisfying to think Wright's remains would be somehow bound into a garden wall. There's much focus on Wright's use of windows and trellises to integrate the building to its natural surroundings, while the garden wall seems to get less focus.

Rood, do you know where this wall is, precisely? And if so would you be willing to share it's location?
Yes, I know precisely where the wall is located, and I know fairly well, within a few feet, anyway, where their remains were probably placed, but no, I don't plan to tell anyone. To some extent all this is purely speculation on my part, but when you put two and two together ... then add two more ... and two more, after that ... a person would be foolish not to put two and two together to reach the gist of the matter, viewed broadly and comprehensively.

Disgusted and deeply pained by the way a few hooligans in Wisconsin treated Mr. Wright's grave ... the disrespect and disdain for his life and work those broken beer bottles exhibited, why would Mrs. Wright want anyone to have access to their remains?

Merely reading a few posts, here, demonstrate well enough the contempt some people have for the life Mr. and Mrs. Wright created ... together. Words may not be broken beer bottles ... but words can hurt and bring pain, too.

SDR
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Re: Frank Lloyd Wright's Ashes

Post by SDR »

I'm sure it may be troubling to Taliesin "old hands" to hear Mrs Wright (or anyone else) denigrated here. On the other hand, it would be dishonest to claim that there were no problems in the Fellowship that could be attributed to Mr Wright's widow.

Lonnie Lovness has included much detail in her new remembrance of her parents' (and her own) close friendships at Taliesin, which included several members, in particular Jack Howe, Gene Masselink, Wes Peters, and Mrs Wright herself. Virginia was of much help to Olgivanna, who relied for some time on her help in hosting and socializing. Don gave much of himself (and of materials and advice, as a honcho at 3M)---a lifelong and mutually-rewarding relationship for all.

I have just been reading of what happened when Svetlana Alliluyeva came to Taliesin. Her meeting with Wes, and their three-week courtship leading to marriage, was engineered (what other word is there ?) by Mrs Wright---subsequently turning to passive and then active animosity toward Svet by Olgivanna (and her daughter). The marriage was destroyed; this destruction spread by misadventure to Virginia as well, who was caught in a situation which made her appear as a turncoat, costing her own friendship with Wes's ex. (It should be said that Wes was not without blame, in this and other matters . . .)

S
"As a former copy editor, I always feel I am defending the person whose name is being misspelled, not attacking the person who misspells it." Ronald Alan McCrea (1943-2019)

Roderick Grant
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Re: Frank Lloyd Wright's Ashes

Post by Roderick Grant »

For a first-hand account of the 'romance' and marriage of Svetlana the Second and Wes, read (if you can find a copy) "The Faraway Music," the autobiography of Svetlana. The Taliesin gang do not come out well at all. Without rereading it, I seem to recall that the brickbats extended to Brandoch. But Virginia Lovness is not mentioned at all, which implies that she and Svetlana got along well, which, having known Virginia myself, would not be surprising.

There are quite a few books by and about Svetlana listed on Amazon, but not the autobiography, which was a third entry following "Twenty Letters to a Friend" and "Only One Year." For an interesting review of the book, go to "Commentary" February 1986, by Anita Susan Grossman. She portrays the Svetlana saga in a very different light, saying that Olga had been writing letters incessantly to her to urge her to visit Taliesin. (Olga gets two updates: Seemingly, in Grossman's research, she found that Olga's maiden name was spelled Milianov - no mention of Lazovich - and she was born in Georgia, not Montenegro. Who knew?)

SDR
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Re: Frank Lloyd Wright's Ashes

Post by SDR »

It is clear from reading Lonnie's book ( http://wrightchat.savewright.org/viewtopic.php?p=108872 ) that she is fully versed in Wrightiana, no doubt researching every aspect of what she writes about when her own memory did not suffice. She even gets the unusual spelling of "jr" in Edgar's name right. The Lovness Studio (and later Cottage) was a regular stopping-place for any and all members of the Fellowship, and the family and house served well as an introduction to the Wright way for prospective clients.

Lonnie clearly knows whereof she speaks; the book is a must-read for those interested in all things Wright.

Without giving away too much of the content of the book, I can say that Mrs Wright did write to Svetlana several times prior to her eventual appearance at Taliesin West. In the end Wes had to choose between Svetlana and the Fellowshiip, and there could be no doubt as to where his loyalties lay.

S
"As a former copy editor, I always feel I am defending the person whose name is being misspelled, not attacking the person who misspells it." Ronald Alan McCrea (1943-2019)

DRN
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Re: Frank Lloyd Wright's Ashes

Post by DRN »

I can understand those who were “in the room where it happened” finding the comments of those who weren’t to be unfair. But there are so many histories written by others with direct connections to the actions of Mrs. Wright that are not flattering, and at times alarming, I find it difficult for the readers of these histories to be neutral on the subject.

Hicks Stone, the son of Edward Durell and Maria Stone, writes in his biography of his father of Mrs. Wright’s machinations to break up his parent’s marriage. This was done ostensibly to destabilize Edward and his architectural practice to allow TAA to increase its prominence on the architectural landscape. Kamal Amin corroborated the story according to the endnotes.

Back to FLLW’s final resting place, I and two other freshmen at CMU took a detour on a free day during a school trip to Chicago in mid-October 1984 to see Spring Green. Taliesin’s gate was closed, but we could see the house in the landscape from a distance; the Midway barns, visible from the road, were a picturesque ruin; and Hillside looked cared for but vacant. I’ll even admit to trespassing by walking up the drive to get a better view of the studio and the then ruin of Romeo&Juliet. If anyone was there, I’m sure they were far from threatened by three sheepish 18 year olds toting cheap cameras. On our way back from the Wyoming School, we stopped at the Unity Chapel graveyard to find FLLW’s grave. It was a bit overgrown with Creeping Charlie, but otherwise in good shape. There was no metal and art glass marker at the grave at that time as seen in some pictures, just a stone slab with Wright’s name and incorrect birth year and correct death year in bronze with a small red square worked into the bronze stripes. An oddly placed standing quarry stone was next to the slab along with an unkempt shrub or two. To my knowledge, this visit was about 5 or 6 months prior to the exhumation.

SDR
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Re: Frank Lloyd Wright's Ashes

Post by SDR »

http://www.galenfrysinger.com/wisconsin ... chapel.htm

https://newfry.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8345 ... 658970c-pi

http://allenbrowne.blogspot.com/2012/11 ... -here.html

I had hoped to find a photo early enough to have captured the colored element in the bronze marker Dan saw. There are many photos of the marker without it. Edgar Tafel's 1979 book includes a photo (on page 115) of the site; the caption mentions the Coonley-copied stained glass panel; his 1993 book's last page is reproduced here.


Image

Image


While looking for photos I came across this undated Stoller photo of Mr Wright in his room at Taliesin:

Image

photo © ESTO
"As a former copy editor, I always feel I am defending the person whose name is being misspelled, not attacking the person who misspells it." Ronald Alan McCrea (1943-2019)

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