Text and Photos (c) Mark Hertzberg
I recently had the privilege of being invited by Father Angelo Artemas to photograph the interior of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee.
Interestingly, with all the thousands of dollars in camera bodies and lenses I carry, the two thin horizontals were shot with my iPhone 4S using the Panorama camera function.
I have many “record shots” of the sanctuary, but the photos I am posting are photos of details in the church. One of the most important design features in the sanctuary are the three light poles in the stairwells. The three light poles represent the Holy Trinity. The white lights represent the stars, the blue lights the Virgin Mary.
Cindy, my wife and extra set of eyes, noticed a resemblance between the sculptured ends of the pews and the statue of Nakoma at the SC Johnson Research Tower in Racine. Maria Pandazi, a member of the congregation and past president of Frank Lloyd Wright Wisconsin (www.wrightinwisconsin.org) explained to me that, “The sculptured ends of the pews are intended to represent the Christian symbol of the fish pointed downward (the ball being the tail).”
Natural light is supplemented by light fixtures below the dome:
Wright’s windows were integral parts of his designs. There are art glass windows on either side of the front door. The first photo shows one of the windows and its reflection on the floor of the entry way.
The second photo shows one of the windows viewed through the glass wall added at the entrance to the sanctuary after Wright’s death. He did not design those windows.
Another significant change in the church was the removal of the icons which Eugene Masselink designed for the altar. The original icons are now displayed in the basement of the church:
The next photos are exterior photos shot last summer…
A beautiful set of photos. It’s a pity that the original doors and Masselink icons were removed. And, since your text didn’t make it clear, NONE of the art glass windows were by Wright or by TAA. They were all added several decades after the building was completed.
Pleased to see that these icons which Eugene Masselink designed for the altar are still in the church. I remember watching Gene and Vern Swaback work on these at Taliesin in Spring Green. It was about 1960 during my two year apprenticeship at Taliesin. I actually did some minor work on the detail drawings for the church at that same time. I was only twenty years old and just learning.
I believe the cross atop the church was also a late, and debated, addition.
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These images are wonderful. Thank you for sharing them with us.
The removal of the original icons is warranted as they did not really reflect the Tradition of the Orthodox Church. There is a very specific process of writing icons and an emphasis on different elements which are easy to miss to the untrained eye. For example, in the Masselink icon of Jesus, there were some important details missing, such as the letters in the “halo” portion which mean, the one being or the one who is. Also, largely, the symbolism in the colors of the icons were missing, and that is very important. There are other details, but I thought it would be nice to explain a little bit about why they were changed- it was not out of any disrespect for Masselink!
greeat photos of a truly great building! Why doesn’t ANYONE ever photograph the equally wonderous chapel on the lower level? With its curved gfolden walls adn curved, stgeped ceiling, and domed skylight it is possibly an equal to the main church.
I’ll take another look the next time I am there. I missed what you pointed out. I don’t see it in the photos I took of it from a bit of a distance. I’ll look again.