I was in the heart of Fayette County, Pennsylvania, on June 26-27, 2011, while on a 3000 mile trek, re-investigating the sites of the 1960s-1970s' best inexplicable reports. In this land of laurels and legendary locations, I quickly discovered, once again, things are not always as they seem when I went to seek out a famous landmark. (Once again, click to read more on the significance of the "Fayette Factor.")
should ever be on a hill
or on anything. It should be of the hill.
Belonging to it. Hill and house should live
together each the happier for the other. ~ Frank Lloyd Wright
Frank Lloyd Wright Background
Wright picked Spring Green, Wisconsin to create a new beginning for himself, away from his first marriage of over 20 years and the Chicago suburbs. The land he bought on April 10, 1911, was adjacent to land held by his mother's family, the Lloyd-Joneses. Wright began to build himself a new home, which he called Taliesin, in May 1911. The recurring theme of Taliesin came from his mother's side: Taliesin in Welsh mythology was a poet, magician, and priest. The family motto was Y Gwir yn Erbyn y Byd which means "The Truth Against the World"; it was created by Iolo Morgannwg who also had a son called Taliesin, and the motto is still used today as the cry of the druids and chief bard of the Eisteddfod in Wales.
Also, it is worthy of noting that Frank Lloyd Wright (like his architect genius peer, Bucky Fuller) was a member of the original Fortean Society. See more about the lengthy list of people associated with that Fortean organization founded in 1931, here.
Fayette and Fallingwater
First, the photograph. I have the feeling that no one can take a bad picture of this site. I certainly surprised myself with what I was able to capture with my older model iPhone.
The place known by one simple name today is downright beautiful and breathtaking. Additionally, as I discovered, the mystical roots of this wonderful manmade house are revealed with a little digging. First, there is the "coincidence" that it is located in Fayette County.
But were you aware that this famous Frank Lloyd Wright site was built where a former Masonic Lodge once stood?
The beginnings of the masterpiece are linked to Freemasonry and Taliesen. The well-to-do Kaufmann family owned a Pittsburgh department store, and they also owned a huge tract of land and cabin an hour-and-a-half southeast of Pittsburgh, which they had bought from a Masonic lodge. The family's elder son, Edward Kaufmann, Jr., had studied at Taliesen under Frank Lloyd Wright. In 1937, when the Kaufmanns wanted to upgrade their "rustic cabin" into a comfortable weekend getaway, they naturally turned to Wright for a design. Wright went beyond their expectations, and created his acknowledged magnum opus. People have since traveled from around the world, as I did from Maine, to visit this piece of art disguised as a house, in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania.
Decatur's Millikin Place Houses
During my trip last summer, I also stopped to check out the three Wright-related houses in Decatur, Illinois (my hometown).
The Edward P. Irving House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and built in 1911, is located at #2 Millikin Place, Decatur, Illinois.
In addition, the Robert Mueller Residence, 1 Millikin Place...
and the Adolph Mueller Residence, 4 Millikin Place, have been attributed to Wright's assistants Hermann V. von Holst and Marion Mahony.
Frank Lloyd Wright's influences were nature, the landscape, and music, as well as Mayan-Aztec and Japanese art. His creations involved several prominent pieces that would become synchromystically linked to a variety of remarkable events.
Taliesins and Tragedies
Wright's beloved Taliesin would be the source of one of the worst heartbreaks of his life. In 1909, Wright and his new lover Mamah Borthwick Cheney went to Europe. They returned a year later, and began building Taliesin, in earnest in 1911, where they soon lived and worked.
Then tragedy struck. On August 15, 1914, while Wright was working in Chicago, Julian Carlton, a recently hired male servant and cook from Barbados, set fire to the living quarters of Taliesin and used an axe to kill seven people as the fire burned. The dead included Mamah; her two children, John and Martha; a gardener; a draftsman named Emil Brodelle; a workman; and another workman's son.
Two people survived the mayhem, one of whom helped to put out the fire that almost completely engulfed the residential wing of the house. Carlton tired to kill himself by swallowing muriatic acid [lye, says K.B.] immediately following the attack but lived. He was nearly hanged on the spot when he was taken into custody, but was taken to the Dodgeville jail. Carlton died from starvation seven weeks after the attack.
Another fire destroyed the bungalow at Taliesin on April 20, 1925. Wright rebuilt it and called it "Taliesin III."
The Marin County Civic Center was prominently featured in 1997's Gattaca, as a futuristic space port. [Thanks RPJ.]
Dr. George Hodel
The John Sowden House was used as a shooting location to depict the home of Ava Gardner in Martin Scorsese's The Aviator (2004), a film about Howard Hughes.
The Black Dahlia was identified as Elizabeth Short, and a photograph of her compares favorably with the appearance given to the Sean Young character in Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (1982).
The Ennis-Brown House
Deckard's apartment, drawn by set designer Charles William Breen and built on stage at Warner Brothers, was inspired by the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Ennis-Brown House. Breen actually had plaster casts taken from the textile blocks of the Wright-designed house and used them for the walls in the stage set.
Wright designed the Ennis-Brown House in 1923, and built it in 1924. He based the relief ornamentation on its textile blocks, inspired by the symmetrical reliefs of the Mayan buildings at Uxmal.
The house's owners have experienced an overwhelming number of difficulties and sudden death. Death almost struck in 1912, when after visiting Europe, the family booked passage on the maiden voyage of the White Star liner Titanic, but when a member of its party fell ill, the family decided to return at a later date, by another boat.
The 1920s proved to be unhappy years for the Westcott family. Orpha died suddenly at the age of 46, on April 12, 1923, following what should have been a routine sinus operation, in Philadelphia. The tragedy stunned both her family and her friends. Funeral services were held for her in the living room of her beautiful home on East High Street. At the same time Burton’s company was failing. He resigned as treasurer of the American Seeding Machine Company in order to invest more time for the failing Westcott Motor Car Company. Attempts to save the ailing car company had exhausted his finances. With no other option Burton sold out. The severe stress in his life took its toll on his health. In 1926, thrown into further depression by his wife's death, at 57 years of age, Burton died in his home on East High Street while under the care of his sister from Richmond, Indiana. Funeral services were held at the Westcott residence.
Following the death of Burton in 1926, the Westcott House was sold to Roscoe Pierce. He lived in the house until his death in 1941. Eva Linton bought the house in 1944. She subsequently sub-divided the main house into five apartments. Over the next 37 years the house fell into a state of disrepair and decline. Eva Linton died in 1980, and her estate was passed to her niece Dorothy Jane Snyder. Dorothy inherited the property in 1981 and maintained it until 1988 when she sold it to her son Ken Snyder and his wife Sherri.
In 1991, Ken died unexpectedly in a car accident, and Sherri sold the house in 2000. The non-profit The Westcott House Foundation owns and maintains it today.[Thank I.]
There was of course the Svetlana (daughter of Stalin) connection, who was in and out of FLW’s entourage. But most evocative was that of Nicholas (!) Roerich, an artist and Asian adventurer very much on the Aghartha “King of the World” wavelength, who in turn brings in V.P Henry Wallace, Igor Stravinsky, and a host of other 1900s celebs.
Anne Baxter: Wright's Granddaughter
Let's stay with the Hollywood stream of consciousness, and take a peek at Anne Baxter.
Anne Baxter (May 7, 1923 – December 12, 1985) was an American actress known for her performances in films such as The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), The Razor's Edge (1946), All About Eve (1950) and The Ten Commandments (1956).
Anne Baxter married three times, and in each marriage she brought the Frank Lloyd Wright philosophy for organic architecture into her life. Her husbands were:
Anne Baxter's Grants, New Mexico home (above) sold for $895,000 in 2009. It is the one in which she lived, with second husband Randolph Galt, beginning in 1963. Here is how it was listed:
"Anne Baxter home" is 3,000 square foot adobe home with 171 acres in the Zuni Mountains;
Architect: Eric Lloyd Wright (grandson of architect Frank Lloyd Wright) Built by: Anne Baxter, Academy Award winning actress (also granddaughter of Frank Lloyd Wright)
Two sides of the property borders Cibola National Forest One side borders NM Highway 53 and El Malpais National Monument.
Located southwest of I-40 on NM Highway 53; near the Ice Caves, El Malpais National Monument, El Morro National Monument, the Zuni-Acoma Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail; 18 miles to Grants.
Baxter never remarried. Although she maintained a residence in West Hollywood, Baxter considered her Connecticut home to be her primary residence.
Anne Baxter's most famous role was of Nefertari (meaning "Beautiful Companion"), one of the royal wives of Pharaoh Rameses II, in the 1956 epic Exodus film, directed by Cecile B. DeMille, The Ten Commandments.
Baxter suffered a brain aneurysm on December 4, 1985, while hailing a taxi on Madison Avenue in New York City. She died 8 days later at Lenox Hill Hospital on December 12, aged 62. Her last film role was the TV movie The Masks of Death (1984), which starred Peter Cushing as Sherlock Holmes.
Baxter is buried on the estate of Frank Lloyd Wright at Lloyd Jones Cemetery in Spring Green, Wisconsin. She was survived by her three daughters.
Buildings, too, are children of Earth and Sun.