Wright Books + 1 + 1

© Mark Hertzberg (2023)

Sometimes the night does things to you. I woke up at 4:30 this morning reconsidering my last post in terms of what I wrote about Elizabeth Wright Heller’s book, The Architect’s Sister – The Story of My Life (Brushy Creek Publishing Co.: Iowa City, 2019). There are arguably two ways to interpret the title, and it occurs to me that I did it wrong. I took it to mean the book would tell us about “The Architect,” which it does not do in much detail. It does tell us in vivid detail about Frank Lloyd Wright’s star crossed father, William Carey Wright. And that is important in the canon of Wright.


William Carey Wright was both a musician – which is certainly something that led to Frank’s love of music – and a minister. Sadly he could not hold a pulpit long, and the family was itinerant. His first wife (Heller’s mother) died and his second marriage, to Anna, was a nightmare. I did not give enough weight to Heller’s description of Anna’s abuse of her. The divorce petition filed by William Carey Wright is chilling. The divorce left young Frank with his domineering mother.

We are as familiar with Frank and his flaws as we are with his architecture. We do not escape our childhoods. How much did Anna shape Frank’s personality? How much did she poison her son against his father?

While most of Heller’s book is about her life other than growing up, and she did not know Frank well, after rethinking my essay, I now recommend you read it to get a better understanding of Frank’s lesser known parent, the father we have been led to forget about.

Frank was drawn to Cecil Corwin when Frank moved to Chicago. They had a very close relationship. Corwin’s father, Eli, was also a preacher. He was pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Racine, Wisconsin from 1880 – 1888. Frank’s first commission in Racine was his unrealized 1901 commission to remodel Herbert and Flora Miles’ house. The commission had first gone to Corwin two years earlier. We do not know how Wright and Thomas P. Hardy met (the Hardy House, 1904/05 was Wright’s first realized commission in Racine), but it is entirely possible that it came about through the Corwin – Racine / Corwin – Wright connection. Two architects, two fathers who were preachers.

So, make it Wright Books  +1 + 1.

The Racine Heritage Museum will be mounting a long-term exhibit curated by Tim Samuelson that reprises his 2020 “Wright Before the Lloyd” exhibit in Elmhurst, Illinois. The emphasis on the Racine exhibit will be on Corwin and Wright. The museum is located just two blocks from the Henry Mitchell House (1894) which, though in Corwin’s name, is likely a collaboration between Corwin and Wright. Details will be announced.

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OA + D’s Encore 

© Mark Hertzberg (2022). Chandler photographs courtesy of, and © Michael Rust

There are seemingly not enough hours in the day for some people, including Randolph C. Henning, Eric M. O’Malley, and William B. Scott, Jr. 

O'Malley Henning Scott 6.28.19.jpgO’Malley, left, Henning, and Scott  June 28, 2019, at Taliesin for a meeting of the Taliesin Fellows.

They have “day jobs,” but because they are also three individuals who are passionate about, and collected material associated with, Frank Lloyd Wright, his students, and other organic practitioners, they founded Organic Architecture + Design (OA+D) in 2013. Their mission is to honor the past, celebrate the present and encourage the future of organic architecture and design through education, conservation of original design materials, publications and exhibitions.

RHM Iannelli Planning Meeting 005.jpgO’Malley, Tim Samuelson, left, then the City of Chicago Cultural Historian, and David Jameson meet in Samuelson’s archives near OA+D’s, in June 2018 to plan an exhibit about Alfonse Iannelli at the Racine, Wisconsin, Heritage Museum.

RHM Iannelli Planning Meeting 014.jpgChristopher Paulson, right, Executive Director of the Racine Heritage Museum looks at cartoons of windows Iannelli designed for Francis Barry Byrne’s St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Racine, which Samuelson was lending to the museum.

They felt that big institutions are selective about what is saved, often rejecting worthy collections. They perceived a rapid loss of material with historical value associated with the organic movement—especially regarding lesser known architects and designers. Drawing from their own personal collections, as well as others that they were aware of, they also felt that a journal promoting an awareness of Organic Architecture (past, present and future) could be of interest and sustained.

OA+D’s list of accomplishments since 2013 is impressive:

-They are in their ninth year of publishing the Journal of Organic Architecture + Design, a quality glossy journal produced three times a year, each issue guest edited by a scholar and devoted to a single topic supporting their mission.

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-In 2016 they built and placed on long term loan to the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation a replica of Wright’s model of the unrealized San Francisco Call newspaper building (1913) to replace the original model which left its longtime home in Hillside at Taliesin when Wright’s models were acquired by the Museum of Modern Art. 

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-They have published several books, including a monograph about the box projects of William Wesley Peters:

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-They maintain archive space in Chicago, in Los Angeles, and in Lexington, Kentucky, and now also in Chandler, Arizona. A link to their noteworthy holdings is at:


So, what could Organic Architecture + Design (OA + D) do for an encore? How about recently adding a fourth archive site (Chandler) after being selected by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation in July to be the stewards of what remains of the vast archive of Taliesin Architects (TA), first known as Taliesin Associated Architects (TAA), formed after Wright’s death in 1959? After the Museum of Modern Art and Arizona State University took their share, the majority of the collection, which includes more than 50,000 drawings, is housed in OA+D’s new archive in Chandler, Arizona.


The grand opening was in December. (While one of OA+D’s missions is to make their holdings available to scholars and aficionados of Wright’s and related work, the TA archive is so extensive that it will take time to ingest it, and there is no definite date for public access.)


Scott says, “Probably the most exciting things they (the Foundation) gave us are these models.” Those models include a seven foot model of the 1963 proposal for the Belmont (N.Y.) Race Course, a proposal published in Architectural Forum, and a model built by the late David Dodge of a country club in Hawaii ( based on Wright’s design for a home for Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe). There is also a seven foot long rendition of the Court of the Seven Seas in San Francisco by Ling Po. He adds that Stuart Graff (President and CEO of the Foundation) “deserves a big thank you for this” as does the entire archive staff at Taliesin West.



Some might step back and rest their laurels on an accomplishment like the TA acquisition. But that is not OA+D’s nature. Inevitably they will surprise us again. In the meantime, follow their work in the Journal. An annual subscription is $50, money well spent. 


OA+D: https://www.oadarchives.com

Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation on the transfer of the TA archive to OA+D: 


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