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Current and Recent Projects

 

 


Plaster and wood framing installed after Frank Lloyd Wright's death had concealed a stone wall underneath.The wall was restored this week as part of the Entry Foyer and Loggia Alcove Restoration project.


TALIESIN ENTRY FOYER AND LOGGIA ALCOVE RESTORATION

At Taliesin, the Entry Foyer and Loggia Alcove create the striking entry sequence to the Loggia and Frank Lloyd Wright’s bedroom. In a partnership between Taliesin Preservation and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, this prominent space in Wright’s Wisconsin country home is now being restored to provide a closer look at the architectural fabric that existedinWright’s lifetime. The project will be completed by the spring reopening of the Taliesin tour season.

Distinctive stone walls that were concealed by plaster after Wright’s lifetime have been re-exposed, and broken “poke-out” stones have been replaced. Non-historic surface-run electrical wiring has been removed, and new wiring serving the area will be concealed within the wall. “Chinese Court Scene,” a now-fully-restored panoramic Chinese screen, will be returned to its historic location in the Loggia Alcove and will be installed behind museum-quality non-reflective Tru Vue Optium acrylic glazing. A photo reproduction of the screen that has been in place since the 1990s has been removed.

The restoration is related to a multi-year project to install conserved original Asian artwork at the Taliesin residence thanks to the generous in-kind support of T.K. McClintock of Studio TKM Associates Conservation of Fine Art and Historic Works on Paper and Tru Vue.
 

Left: View down Guest Wing hall. Right: Gold Room overlooking Taliesin lake. John Lautner stayed here.

GUEST WING NEARING COMPLETION

The Guest Wing, located below the main level of the Taliesin residence, is composed of six bedrooms and three bathrooms that since 1933 have served as residential space for the Taliesin Fellowship, students of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, and special guests. A multi-year restoration of these remarkable spaces is nearing completion.

All plumbing fixtures have been installed, and installation of electrical finish has been completed. All built-in furniture is complete and appliances are in place. The preservation crew is now installing the final pieces of trim in the last bedroom and bathroom. Once complete, touch-up painting and other refinements will prepare the rooms for installation of furniture. The furniture will be constructed on site, based on a suite of pieces selected from the historic furniture collections.

The Guest Wing project has been long in the making. Besides returning these rooms to use, this project has enabled renewed structural foundations to be poured and new HVAC routings to be installed that support the entire Taliesin residence.


Original radiator cover. One of the few historic pieces in the Guest Wing.



Reconstructed radiator cover based on original in Gold Room.
 


 

Jane Porter sits with her daughter, Anna, and son, Franklin, on the porch with her and brother Frank's mother, Anna Lloyd Wright. Photo courtesy of the Porter Family.

TAN-Y-DERI PORCH RESTORATION UNDERWAY


The porch at Tan-y-Deri, pictured here in August 2016, is undergoing reconstruction. Removal of the large stone wall beneath the screens and the low stone wall built atop the concrete cap of the original parapet constituted the first part of the work. These removed walls were built in the late 1950s, and their removal will allow for the reconstruction of the porch as it existed for much of the Porter’s ownership and the period of Wright’s early ownership of Tan-y-Deri in the early 1950’s.

Reconstruction of Tan-y-Deri's prominent front porch is now underway, and by spring 2017 will stand as it existed from the late 1930’s to the early 1950’s. Welsh for "Under the Oaks," Wright designed this peaceful home overlooking the valley of his ancestors for his sister Jane Porter and family. Wright eventually acquired Tan-y-Deri in the early 1950’s and made it part of the Taliesin estate.


The low stone wall atop the concrete cap of the original parapet was removed.

The decision was made to reconstruct the porch as it existed during the late 1930’s-early 1950’s period because the porch is such a character-defining part of the building that existed through much of the Porter’s ownership of Tan-y-Deri and is believed to have existed when Wright took ownership of the building. The determination was based on review of the Tan-y-Deri Historic Structures Report, historic images, and oral histories. Unfortunately, few historic architectural drawings exist to help with the construction details of the reconstruction, requiring the preservation team to use historic photography and details found elsewhere at Tan-y-Deri to help inform the drawings. Read the Tan-y-Deri Porch Design Evolution Study.

Tan-y-Deri porch during stone wall removal.

The preservation team has completed the removal of the stone work and the porch floor framing, and has begun investigation into structural augmentation of the existing wood walls and piers. In the course of conducting this work, multiple design iterations of and patches to the porch have been made visible. Taliesin Preservation makes efforts to preserve that evidence, either in the building or through documentation.

Taliesin Preservation’s Adam Charles and Kirk Stenerson prepare formwork to restore the concrete cap for the Tan-y-Deri porch parapet wall.

Currently, the team is working on form work to allow for the pouring of a concrete cap matching the historic cap that will serve as the foundation for the wood portion of the porch. Work will continue as long as the weather allows. The reconstruction is slated for completion by the start of winter barring weather delays.

We are grateful to Daniel Baumann for his support of this project in memory of Karen Baumann, who delighted in Taliesin and took particular delight in working in the Taliesin gardens.

For more information on this project, please contact Erik Flesch at (608) 588-7900, Ext. 231 or by email.

 


Top: A buck leaps through the fields near the Taliesin orchard.  
Bottom: Wes Ellarson Dana Jarosinski and of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources prepare a deer trap site with corn.

DNR, TALIESIN PARTNER ON STUDY

Taliesin Preservation and The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation are partnering with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in their Southwest Wisconsin Deer and Predator Study.

Deer research crews capture deer using a variety of methods such as box traps and drop nets. Once captured, researchers take tissue samples, health measurements, and equip the animals with GPS collars before releasing them back into the wild.

The goals of the project are to measure survival rate of deer and record causes of death due to predators, hunting, and other factors; gather data on deer health such as Chronic Wasting Disease rates, pregnancy rates, litter size, nutritional condition and more; and to gather information on food availability as it relates to deer nutrition

Trapping will occur in February 2017. After approximately 12 deer are trapped and collared, DNR staff will track the animals and handle data management remotely.



 

Phoebe’s Point includes a historic quarry where stone was sourced for areas of Taliesin.

Volunteers work to remove invasive species like red cedar.

Invasive species, once removed, are burned.

  PHOEBE’S POINT LANDSCAPE RESTORATION BEGINS

This winter, with completion of the current phase of restoration of the Welsh Hills prairies, attention has been turned to natural landscape restoration of Phoebe's Point, a bluff high above the Wisconsin River opposite the Taliesin residence. Currently overgrown with invasive species such as red cedars and honeysuckle, Phoebe's Point contains a quarry where stone was historically sourced for areas of Taliesin.

This winter, volunteers, and staff have begun removing invasive species by cutting and spraying the stumps with pesticide. Initial efforts are focused on area of the historic rock quarry. In future years, Taliesin Preservation may construct hiking trails to Phoebe’s Point to welcome visitors.




Welsh Hills remnant prairies restored through prescribed burns and invasive species removal.

CURRENT PHASE OF WELSH HILLS RESTORATION COMPLETE

The Welsh Hills prairie restoration and invasive species removal has met its currently defined goals and is considered complete after several years of work. The project successfully restored remnant prairies through prescribed burns and elimination of invasive species. A contractor who assisted with removal of invasive burn-resistant trees in the Welsh Hills will now relocate to Phoebe’s Point.

 


Top: Jennifer Redell, Cave and Mine Specialist at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, counts bats as part of annual survey 
Bottom: Healthy big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus), a threatened species in Wisconsin, hibernate at Taliesin

HEALTHY BATS HIBERNATE IN TALIESIN CAVES, CELLARS

The Taliesin cellars and caves continue to be a sanctuary for healthy big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus), a threatened species in Wisconsin. A survey last week by Jennifer Redell, Cave and Mine Specialist at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, confirmed the number and health of the hibernating bat population in our cellars and caves. The DNR has surveyed these big brown bats at Taliesin for the past three years.

Bat populations across the state are being monitored for white-nose syndrome, a highly contagious and deadly disease which as of last year has decimated the state's bat population by over half. The disease is expected to deplete the bat population by over 90% by the end of this hibernating year.

The big brown bats at Taliesin are a species of bats that hibernate in places that are colder and drier than those selected by other bats more vulnerable to white-nose syndrome. Survey numbers here seem to bear this out as our hibernating bat population has remained steady at about 70 individuals each of the last three years. The disease has not been detected here at Taliesin or in the big brown bat population, in general.

Left: Bats hibernate in clusters such as this in Taliesin’s caves and cellars. Right: The bats are evaluated for white-nose syndrome, which has decimated the state’s bat population.




TWO TALL SPIRES RECEIVE A NEEDED LIFT

Taliesin Preservation Crew member John Jensen touches up the top of the spire of the Frank Lloyd Wright Visitor Center. This metal-fabricated spire was part of Wright’s design for a Riverview Terrace restaurant building that was completed in 1967 after Wright’s death. The structure celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2017.

Two spires on the Taliesin estate received necessary attention in August. A boom-lift bucket truck was rented to enable the preservation team to scrape and repaint the metal spire atop the Frank Lloyd Wright Visitor Center hexagonal office as part of the countdown to the structure’s 50th anniversary celebration in 2017.

The preservation team turns its attention to the Midway Barn Milk Tower spire.

With the equipment on site, it was determined to make full use this resource once the Visitor Center project was complete —and so the preservation team routed the truck to Midway Barn to turn attention to the wooden spire that crowns the milk tower there. Wright, known for alternately for the breadth of his intellect and wry sense of humor, famously identified the elegant milk tower spire as a "tribute to the Guernsey Cow's teat."

The Midway Barn Milk Tower spire pictured before and after restoration.

The metal and wood spine of the spire was restored in place, and its decorative wooden fins, many of which had deteriorated, were replaced. The whole spire received a fresh coat of paint. The colorful string of spheres was also restored, with paint applied in accordance with the historic rainbow palette of colors.

Preservation team member John Jensen restores the colorful spheres that ornament the Milk Tower spire.

This exuberant expression of Wright’s organic architecture has been described as a vertical release of tension that offers an uplifting visual contrast to the long horizontal planes that otherwise define the ship-like Midway Barn.



HILLSIDE IMPROVEMENTS FOCUS ON DETAILS

 

The entryway to the Wright’s Hillside building pictured before and after staining this summer.

This summer, Taliesin Preservation staff performed preservation maintenance tasks at Wright’s Hillside complex of buildings on the south end of the Taliesin estate and at the Frank Lloyd Wright Visitor Center. Tasks included replacing or consolidating existing exterior wood trims, tuning of exterior doors, and painting and staining of exterior woodwork. This important work helps to prolong the life of the buildings and their materials.

Taliesin Preservation’s John Jensen paints the mullions and red square details for the clerestory windows of the Frank Lloyd Wright Visitor Center roof this summer.


 

LOWER COURT STUDENT PROJECT ADVANCES


A new class of University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering students began their semester project at Taliesin in collaboration with Taliesin Preservation this fall. The students will be looking in more depth and detail at the Taliesin Lower Court Comprehensive Restoration Project advanced by a previous class last year.

  

Read “Entrance to Taliesin Serves as Engineering College Capstone” below from Taliesin Preservation News Volume 2, Issue 1 originally published February 2016.


ENTRANCE TO TALIESIN SERVES AS ENGINEERING COLLEGE CAPSTONE


Photo of Frank Lloyd Wright descending entry steps toward his 1929 Cord L-29 Phaeton sedan, with skis and toboggan pictured at right. Courtesy The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art/Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University). All rights reserved.
 

In the last decades of his life, automobile aficionado Frank Lloyd Wright would drive a series of Cherokee Red sports cars through the entry gate of the Lower Court and park at its far end beneath his Office Terrace. This carport is adjacent to a guest wing that Wright named the Lovness Suite after a young Minnesota couple who commissioned two homes from him in the 1950’s and loved to stay at Taliesin. From there, Wright would ascend a cascading array of stone stairs and landings to the breezeway that opens to the Garden Court, residence, and studio. 

Photo of Taliesin Lower Parking Court showing Wright's Office Terrace and lower portion of entry stair, by Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer, 1950. Automobiles include Wright's Lincoln Continental (right) and Crosley Hotshot (left). Courtesy The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art/Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University.) All rights reserved.

Today, three important components of that entry sequence — the cantilevered concrete terrace structure of the court itself, the Lovness Suite, and the entry stair — require restoration, and comprise the Taliesin Lower Court Comprehensive Project. On January 19, with the beginning of the spring semester, a team of University of Wisconsin-Madison Civil and Environmental Engineering students and faculty mentors took on the Lower Court as a new Senior Capstone Design project in a partnership between Taliesin Preservation, the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and the University of Wisconsin-Madison College of Engineering.

Plan of Taliesin Lower Parking Court court, courtesy Taliesin Preservation.

The Lower Court is a deeply cantilevered gravel parking terrace perched high on the north side of Taliesin hill where the slope drops steeply toward the Wisconsin River. The concrete structure of the terrace, which is a hybrid of Wright’s original cantilevered design and repairs made by Taliesin Associated Architects in the 1960’s, will be evaluated for foundation stabilization measures. A structural analysis and space-use plan will be conducted for the Lovness Suite to guide renovation plans. The entry stairs will also be evaluated for renovation, with care taken to document and deal with two distinctly different superimposed stair designs — the second built atop the first. 


  Photo of Taliesin Lower Parking Court substructure, courtesy Taliesin Preservation.

The students’ final deliverable is a report outlining the engineering challenges and proposed solutions, which will multiple engineering disciplines. Lower Court Comprehensive Restoration Project is in the preliminary design phase for Taliesin Preservation, and so the student work will help to further inform choices made on this project moving forward.

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