07 June 2017

Happy 150th Birthday, Frank Lloyd Wright!

21 November 2017 Update: The Beaufort Gazette/Island Packet has a short slideshow about Auldbrass posted on its website at http://www.islandpacket.com/news/local/article185255448.html

Whenever anyone thinks of American architects, the first person who comes to mind for many is Frank Lloyd Wright (FLW). As the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation proudly proclaims "Frank Lloyd Wright changed the way we build and the way we live."

Frank Lloyd Wright, 1954
FLW was born on June 8, 1867 to William Carey Wright, a preacher and musician and Anna Lloyd Jones, a teacher in Richland Center, Wisconsin. His parents divorced when he was 18 years old. He attended the University of Wisconsin but not graduate. He moved to Chicago in 1887 in search of work. After short stints at the Joseph Lyman Silsbee and Beers, Clay, and Dutton firms, he apprenticed at the highly respected Adler and Sullivan firm in 1888. Following a dispute with Louis Sullivan, FLW opened his own practice in 1893. He died on April 9, 1959 in Phoenix, AZ at age 91.

He designed over 1100 structures in a career lasting 70 years. 532 of the designs were built. The Prairie Style with which he is closely associated is mostly horizontal in shape with one story low-pitched roofs, deep overhangs, and generally long rows of casement windows. The goal of his architecture was to be "organic," a physical manifestation of buildings in harmony with the natural environment in which they are placed. The Frank Lloyd Wright Trust provides information about and access to some of the structures FLW built in Chicago. Buffalo, NY has seven of his houses dating from its days as an industrial hub as the 1800s gave way to the early 20th century. FLW designed and built two houses in South Carolina: "Auldbrass" here in Beaufort County near Yemassee and "Broad Margin" in Greenville.

The Auldbrass Plantation complex was commissioned to FLW in 1939 by C. Leigh Stevens, an internationally known industrial consultant. Design and construction were complicated by fire, divorces, and ownership changes. Stevens who lived mostly near Boston MA became a part-year resident in 1946. By the time of his death in 1962, the original cost estimate of $50,000 had turned into expenditures in excess of $250,000. In the mid-1970s, the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism considered buying it to turn the 3000 acres of the 4000 acre property into a state park. That plan did not come to fruition. Auldbrass was formally added to the National Register of Historic Places with a ceremony at the site on November 14, 1976. It is the only plantation complex that FLW designed. Stevens's daughter, Jessica Stevens Loring, sold the complex in 1979 and serious neglect took its toll. In 1987 Hollywood producer Joel Silver bought the complex, finished the construction, and began restoration as he had done for another FLW house in Los Angeles. Auldbrass is occasionally open for tours conducted by the Beaufort County Open Land Trust.

Beaufort County Library has materials about "Auldbrass" that you can read in the BDC Research Room and/or check out from one (or more depending on the title) of the Local History sections at Beaufort County Library branches or our sister libraries in the SCLENDS consortium.

720 FRA Frank Lloyd Wright : The Masterworks, 1993.

720 TAF About Wright : An Album of Recollections by Those Who Knew Frank Lloyd Wright by Edgar Tafel, 1993. 

720 WRI The Early Work of Frank Lloyd Wright = The "Ausgefuhrte Bauten" of 1911 by Frank Lloyd Wright, 1982.

720.92 WRI Fallingwater Rising: Frank Lloyd Wright, E.J. Kaufmann, and America's Most Extraordinary House by Franklin Toker, 2003.

720.92 WRI Frank Lloyd Wright : The Romantic Spirit by Carol Bishop, 2005.

720.92 WRI Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim Museum [DVD], 2010.

720.92 WRI The Gardens of Frank Lloyd Wright by Derek Fell, 2014. 

728 HIL OVRSZ The Wright Space : Pattern and Meaning in Frank Lloyd Wright's Houses by Grant Hildebrand, 1991.

728.0973 BRO If this House Could Talk ...: Historic Homes, Extraordinary Americans by Elizabeth Smith Brownstein, 1999. FWL's Storer House (Hollywood, CA) and Auldbrass Plantation (Yemassee, SC) are covered on pages 10 - 19.

728.8 CAR Carolina Plantations: Lost Photographs from the Historic American Buildings Survey edited by William P. Baldwin, 2007. (BDC only; SCLENDS) There are three images of Auldbrass, pp. 118 - 120.

975.799 DEL Auldbrass: Frank Lloyd Wright's Southern Plantation by David G. DeLong, 2003.
975.799 LOR Auldbrass: The Plantation Complex designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, a documented history of its South Carolina lands by Jessica Stevens Loring, 1992.

v.f. "Auldbrass Plantation" (BDC only) a collection of newspaper and magazine clippings about the complex

C.N. Bayless Photographs (BDC only) C.N. Bayless Photographs in our Research Room include images taken on Auldbrass Plantation some of which have been digitized in the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) Collection by the Library of Congress. (Please note: The home is in Beaufort County, not Hampton County as indicated incorrectly in the documentation.) HABS documents achievements in architecture, engineering, and landscape design in the United States and its territories through a comprehensive range of building types, engineering technologies, and landscapes, including examples as diverse as the Pueblo of Acoma, houses, windmills, one-room schools, the Golden Gate Bridge, and buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. You can also view  photographs of the outlying buildings online through the Library of Congress.

Our Hoopla service has a number of books and one documentary about FLW's life and work. Hoopla is a cloud-based digital media platform that enables library members to instantly borrow a selection of movies, television shows, educational/instructional videos, documentaries, music, and audiobooks via a browser, smartphone or table t (iOS 6 and via select Android devices). Ask any of our staff on how to sign up.

You can check out these biographies and a documentary by Ken Burns about the great and controversial architect from one (or more) of the Branch Libraries.

J B WRIGHT Who was Frank Lloyd Wright?, [2015] (Please note: Biography for youth)
B WRIGHT Frank Lloyd Wright by Ada Louise Huxtable, 2004.
B WRIGHT Frank Lloyd Wright by Meryle Secrest, 1992.
B WRIGHT Frank Lloyd Wright by Ken Burns [DVD], 2004, c1998.

FLW's domestic life was often chaotic. Wright was known for his disinterest in traditional family life and had more than a few extramarital alliances, some which ended in matrimony, and some which did not. He married Catherine Lee "Kitty" Tobin on June 1, 1889. Together they had 6 children before they divorced in 1922. Perhaps the most notorious of the acknowledged relationships was Mamah Borthwick Cheney who would be killed along with two of her children and  four Taliesin workers by axe-wielding arsonist Taliesin servant, Julian Carlton, in 1914. Wife #2 was a morphine addict, Maude "Miriam" Noel. His third wife was Olga Lazovich Hinzenburg, a dancer whom he met in 1924 and married in 1928. Together they had a daughter and he adopted her daughter from Olga's marriage to Vlademar Hinzenberg, a Russian architect. Olga died in 1985. Aspects of his personal life has spawned fictional treatment and a real crime story of murder that are also available through the Beaufort County Library. Olga is the main character in Boyle's novel The Women.

364.1523 DRE Death in a Prairie House : Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Murders by William R. Drennan, 2008.

FIC BOY The Women : A Novel by T. C. Boyle, 2009.
FIC HOR Loving Frank by Nancy Horan, 2007.
FIC MIL Murder in Perspective : An Architectural Mystery, 1997.

Note: The image of Frank Lloyd Wright above was by New York World-Telegram and the Sun staff photographer: Al Ravenna [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.


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