Spring Green Restaurant – Historic Photos

(c) Mark Hertzberg, 2017, with all photos (c) Robert Hartmann, 2017

Robert Hartmann’s passions when he was growing up included Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture and photography. The result? Thirty historic photos by him of the construction of Wright’s Spring Green Restaurant, the building now known as the Frank Lloyd Wright Visitor Center. It houses the Taliesin Bookstore and Riverview Terrace Cafe. The building also serves as the starting point for all tours of Taliesin.

Riverview Terrace-Spring Green restaurant-3-.jpgA vintage color photo from winter, 1967, of the recently completed Spring Green Restaurant. Hartmann notes that the original location of the old Wisconsin River bridge abuttment can be seen in the upper left of the photo. The pavilion which is still wrapped in plastic sheets, right, originally served as the sales and marketing office of the Wisconsin River Development Corporation headed by Racine businessman Willard Keland.

The building overlooks the Wisconsin River. Wright first designed an auto showroom, restaurant and home for Glen and Ruth Richardson for the site in 1943. His next proposal for the site, ten years later, was for a bridge-like restaurant. Construction had started when Wright died in 1959. Taliesin Associated Architects completed his design and construction in 1967 as part of a Wisconsin River Development Corporation plan from the late Willard Keland (of Wright’s Keland House in Racine).

Hartmann became interested in Wright’s work when he was just eight years old and saw Wright’s newly completed SC Johnson Research Tower in Racine in 1950. Six years later he borrowed his father’s Argus model C-3 35mm camera (which he notes, he never returned). He was working on his Master’s degree in Environmental Design at the University of Wisconsin in 1967. It was an opportunity for Hartmann to follow the progress of the construction of a Wright design. He thought, “It appeared that Wright’s Broadacre City was actually being built.”

An accomplished photographer, Hartmann often drove the half hour to Spring Green to document the construction in his compact gray Sunbeam Imp. He recalls, “Getting to The Spring Green Restaurant was as rewarding as reaching my destination. Driving west on Highway 14 took me through the wonderful small towns of Cross Plains, Black Earth, Mazomanie, Arena and Spring Green. These were the places that Wright had passed through so many times in his lifetime and have now become immortalized by way of mention in the many books and articles by and about Wright.”Riverview Terrace-Spring Green restaurant-4-1060899.jpgThis summer 1967 photo,with scaffolding still in place, captures The Spring Green restaurant as windows and exterior trim are nearing completion.

Riverview Terrace-Spring Green restaurant-5-5.jpgThis detail view shows the gable roof and original open terrace shortly after Wright’s building was completed. The open terrace on the right was later enclosed and covered with a flat roof by Taliesin Associated Architects, the successor firm to Frank Lloyd Wright.

The young graduate student – he was 25 –  carefully filed his three dozen color and black and white negatives and Polaroid instant photos of the construction, and moved onto a career as an architectural and industrial designer. He opened his own practice in Racine in 1980. The negatives would remain unprinted until this year.

Hartmann never lost his passion for Wright’s work. He is a former board member and past president of Frank Lloyd Wright Wisconsin (Wright in Wisconsin). This past spring Hartmann learned that Erik Flesch, director of development for Taliesin Preservation, Inc., was looking for ways to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the structure. Turning to the notebook with his negatives, Hartmann told Flesch about his archival photos. They arranged for 24 framed prints of the construction and an early renovation to be exhibited at the visitor center through the end of the year.

Riverview Terrace-Spring Green restaurant-2-22.jpgHartmann is a meticulous craftsman. Although he shot each photo in perhaps 1/125th of a second, he spent an estimated 1200 hours digitizing and making archival ink jet prints for the exhibition. The prints are 11″x14″ matted and framed to 16”x20”.

Spring Green Hartmann Flesch LR.jpgHartmann, left, and Flesch review the installation of Hartmann’s photos.

Lady Bird Johnson, President Lyndon B. Johnson’s wife, attended the dedication on September 22, 1967. A free public celebration of the 50th anniversary of the dedication will be held Friday September 22 be from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. with limited food service and a cash bar. A centerpiece of the anniversary celebration is the on-going exhibit of Hartmann’s photos which he never printed until this year.

 

Celebrating Wright at Taliesin and Stillbend

(c) Mark Hertzberg 2017

There are Wright celebrations aplenty this year to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Frank Lloyd Wright’s birth on June 8, 1867 in Richland Center, Wisconsin.

The annual Wright birthday cocktail reception and dinner celebration at Taliesin, organized by Minerva Montooth and co-sponsored by Taliesin Preservation (the reception at Taliesin) and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation (dinner at Hillside), was Saturday evening. The photos of the Taliesin celebration are followed by photos of a celebration the next day at Stillbend, Wright’s Bernard Schwartz House (1939) in Two Rivers, Wisconsin. The guests at Stillbend included Steve Schwartz who shared his memories of growing up in the house. Michael Ditmer, steward of Stillbend, wondered if Wright have approved of the fuss. Read through to the end for my thoughts and then post your thoughts in the Comments link.

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Minerva was ebullient – as always – as she greeted her guests:

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Sara Lomasz Flesch, left, Aron Meudt-Thering, and Erik Flesch of Taliesin Preservation help guests with refreshments on a hot and humid evening during the reception:

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The guests included Steve and Lynette Erickson Sikora, stewards of the Malcolm Willey House in Minneapolis:

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Stuart Graff, President and CEO of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, joined by his husband, Rob Chambers, sported a concrete (really) bow tie:

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Souvenir photos were in order for many guests:

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Musicians Effi Casey, Caroline Hamblen, Shannon McFarley, Ethan Ewer, Steven Ewer, Laurie Riss, and Eliana Baccas played a concerto before remarks by Tim Wright (one of Wright’s grandchildren), Graff, Aaron Betsky (Dean of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture), and Carrie Rodamaker (Executive Director & Director of Operations at Taliesin Preservation):

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Tim Wright (whose father was Robert Llewellyn Wright), reminisced about his grandfather who he met for the first time when he was 13, at Taliesin. He drew chuckles when he said the architect greeted him asking quite directly, “How do you like shoveling shit and pulling tits?” Timothy confessed to the guests that he had neither shoveled manure nor milked a cow yet, even though he had been at Taliesin for several weeks.

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The birthday feast seems to appear magically every year. Two of the magicians Saturday were Jay Anderson, an apprentice chef at Taliesin, and Chef Barbara Wright (no relation to the architect). They were photographed preparing the lemon butter asparagus and rosemary new potatoes which accompanied the spinach and feta cheese stuffed chicken:

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Guests, below, found the menu as they unfolded origami found in little boxes at the tables:

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The healthy menu was followed by the presumably less healthy (but no less tasty) traditionally named Frank Lloyd Wright’s Birthday Cake and a toast to Wright by Graff:

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The origami menu presentation and decorative lights were made by students Lorraine Etchell and Xinxuan Liu:

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WRIGHT CELEBRATION AT STILLBEND:

Michael Ditmer, steward of Stillbend, Wright’s Bernard Schwartz House in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, hosted his own celebration at the house Sunday afternoon.

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Steve Schwartz, whose parents commissioned the house in 1940, delighted guests with his recollections of growing up in the house from the time he was three years old. He said that Wright named the estate for the bend in the river at the site he picked out for the house which evolved from the 1938 Wright design for LIFE Magazine’s feature of  “Eight Houses for Modern Living” ostensibly for a family from Minneapolis.

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Schwartz had a treehouse in the maple behind him in the first photo below:Wright 150th Taliesin 029.jpg

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He said he hoped someone would ask him what it was like to come back to the house, and had prepared a poem entitled Home Again:

The river curves, a still bend

Flocks off honking geese flying in formation

To seek gentler climes.

Firelight illumines sooty

History of joyous life.

All is in harmony

Quietly outwitting temporal arguments

Of color and placement.

Patterns, the rising heat swirls outward

Taking conversations of generations.

Oh, to resist one’s youth

To capture, nourish and restore,

Remember the thread

That wove the future.

While guests at Taliesin were treated to classical music, Ditmer chose as entertainment a wonderful new as-yet-unamed jazz trio from Two Rivers which he decided should be named the Stillbend Jazz Trio, including vocalist Vida Martin.

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Wright 150th Taliesin 071.jpgWright 150th Taliesin 068.jpgWright 150th Taliesin 069.jpgWright 150th Taliesin 070.jpgDitmer asked me at the end of the day what Wright would have thought of this commemoration of his birthday. Consider that Stillbend was a gathering place for both friends and strangers that afternoon. Consider that the little boy who grew up there was back to experience the house again. Consider that the guests were treated to live music, Consider that the acoustics in the living room were perfect. Indeed, the house was being enjoyed just as Wright intended. He likely would have been pleased.

Tour du Taliesin

(c) Mark Hertzberg

About 50 bicyclists chose between 38 and 100 mile routes Sunday May 22 during the first Tour du Taliesin bicycle ride. The fund-raiser began at the Visitors Center and ended with a cookout below Tan-y-deri, across from Taliesin.

Robert and Donna  from West Bend finish their ride:

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Ride 00Michael and Aaron Collins from Madison relax across from Taliesin:

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Ride 2A distinctive logo was designed for the ride that benefitted Taliesin Preservation, Inc.:

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