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Saturday, June 8, 2013

Happy Birthday Frank Lloyd Wright

Dateline June 8, 1867 - Frank Lloyd Wright is born in Wisconsin. By the time he died at the age of 92, he would be considered the greatest architect that ever lived.

By 1956 Wright was so famous that the What's My Line panel had to be blindfolded when he Wright appeared before them. And, as usual, Dorothy Kilgallen was the smartest person in the room.

If you were to remove all the buildings from the equation, Frank Lloyd Wright still lived a life that can hardly be believed. At the height of his initial fame, with a wife and 7 children, he ran away with a client's wife. While in Europe he was denounced from pulpits across the country and he lost all commissions. People thought his career was over. However, he eventually returned to the States with Memeh Cheney and started all over again from the bottom.

Wright built Taliesin and restarted his career, reaching new heights. Then one tragic day in 1914, while Wright was off working on a building, a male servant set fire to Taliesin during a lunch Mameh was hosting. As people fled the smoke-filled dining room, Julian Carlton hacked seven people to death with an axe. Among the dead was Mameh Cheney and her two children. Wright was shattered.

But, it's all about the buildings. It didn't hurt that Wright was a consummate salesman and his #1 product was Frank Lloyd Wright.

More than anything else Frank Lloyd Wright changed the way all suburbs looked. His beautiful Prairie Home was copied tens of millions of times over by bad architects to become the ranch-style house that crowds out good architecture in our suburban landscape.