Sunday, August 8, 2010

Local haunts - Frank Lloyd Wrights Taliesin House

August 6, 12:40 PM Central Wisconsin Paranormal Examiner Kathie Kessler

Frank Lloyd Wright, one of America's premier architects, was born in Richland Center, Wisconsin on June 8, 1867. He attended Madison High School and his summers were spent on his Uncles farm in Spring Green. This is when he first began to realize his dream of becoming an architect. In 1885 he left Madison without finishing school and went to work for Allan Conover, the Dean of the University of Wisconsin's Engineering Dept.

Wright had one main influence, Louis Sullivan and went to work for him. While working for Sullivan he met and married Catherine Tobin and the two moved to Oak Park, Illinois, where Wright built the family home and eventually raised five children.

In 1909 after eighteen years in Oak Park, he left his home and moved to Germany with a woman named Mamah Borthwich Cheney, when they returned in 1911 they moved to Spring Green to claim land that was left to him by his family.

In Spring Green, he constructed Taliesen, which means “Shining Brow” or “Radiant Brow”, in his family's native Welsh language. The house was positioned on a hill that was a favorite spot of his as a child.

Wright and Mamah Borthwick Cheney moved into Taliesen shortly after Christmas in 1911. Mamah was said to be a very headstrong woman and often fired servants for trivial offenses. This is what is said to have happened to a manservant from Barbados named Julian Carlton, whom Wright had hired just two months earlier. On August 15, 1914 while Wright was in Chicago completing Midway Gardens, Carlton returned to the house with a vengeance.

Carlton poured gasoline around the dining rooms where Mrs. Cheney and her children were having lunch. He set fire to the rooms and then ran in with a hatchet and killed seven of the nine people present, including Mrs. Cheney, her two children, John and Martha; Thomas Brunker, the foreman; Emil Brodelle, a draftsman; David Lindblom, a landscape gardener; and Ernest Weston, the son of the carpenter William Weston. Carlton survived by hiding in the unlit fireplace but died in jail six weeks later.

Firefighters took the burned and dying victims to a cottage on the property called Tan-Y-Deri, and it is around this cottage that the ghost of Mrs. Cheney has been seen over the years. She is usually dressed in a long white gown, and though she seems to be a peaceful presence, she seems lost and not at rest.

Witnesses say doors and windows will open on their own. Lights will be turned on or off when no one is present. At night the property will be closed up and locked by the staff, only to be found the next morning with everything wide open.

Wright eventually rebuilt the living quarters, naming it Taliesin II, but they were also destroyed by fire on April 22, 1925.

You can read more about Taliesin here

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