The construction and conception of Taliesin is unique and as a result demands a unique approach to preservation. Taliesin served as a 1:1 scale model for Wright to explore design concepts, structural assemblies, and materials; it is an amalgamation of work space, living space, farming space, and classroom space. The preservation effort is a continuation of the work at Taliesin - with an emphasis on preserving the historic core to the decade of 1950-59. Many of the projects that the preservation team undertakes involve the unraveling of layers of historic fabric, glimpsing the decisions and thoughts of past workers and providing evidence of earlier iterations of Taliesin. Throughout this process drawings and documentation are used to make decisions, as well as, to record the techniques and materials used to restore all the buildings and building systems on the Taliesin Estate.
Taliesin Preservation is charged with the maintenance and preservation of 20 buildings in total and 900 acres of natural and agricultural land. There are seven historic buildings in the historic core - Taliesin, Hillside, Midway, Tan-y-Deri, The Romeo and Juliet Windmill, Engineer’s Cottage, and the Fabris’ Cottage. There are another ten buildings located on the Thomas Lloyd Jones Farm - adjacent to the historic core - Thomas Lloyd Jones House, Thomas Lloyd Jones Barn, Thomas Lloyd Jones Spring House, Thomas Lloyd Jones Machine Shed, Michel’s Farmhouse, Michel’s Chicken Coop, Preservation Shop, and several storage buildings.
In addition to this Taliesin operates its tour program out of the historic Riverview Terrace Restaurant designed by Frank Lloyd Wright’s son-in-law Wes Peters. In partnership with Unity Chapel Incorporated, Taliesin Preservation Incorporated works to maintain Unity Chapel. The agricultural fields are certified organic and are farmed by Otter Creek Farms. In addition to restoration of the buildings, the preservation team also maintains the natural areas, with a focus on the restoration of the historic prairies.
Preservation at Taliesin is not only about restoring the spaces; while the architecture is timeless, mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems are not. When feasible, the preservation team works to upgrade the existing MP&E systems. Upgrading these systems will allow for expanded and continued use and enjoyment of the spaces through tours, the school of architecture, and special events. The preservation team deals with large scale projects such as the comprehensive restoration of the Guest Wing, and also smaller scale cyclical building maintenance and repairs such as re-shingling roofs and cleaning off organic growth.
When TPI was originally founded in the early 1990s, it was decided that it should have its own on-site crew. Having an on-site crew is a tremendous advantage for an historic site and can cost a lot less than contracting with others; people who work on the buildings do not have to be found for every job and taught how to work with Wright's experimentation; they also know where to get local supplies, or who to call when the job is too large for them alone.
The TPI crew do a variety of different jobs. They repair or replace plaster, windows, floors and doors; do re-roofing, or supervise re-roofing; restore furniture; do plumbing and drainage work; and many more things than can be listed here. Every room that you walk through at Taliesin has had work completed in it by TPI's crew.