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Growing Up Wright
Frank Lloyd Wright called them his “Do-it-yourself couple”. Don and Virginia Lovness came to see him in 1955, and he agreed to design a home/studio for the young duo. Beginning in spring, 1956, they laid stone, plumbed, wired, and framed the Usonian house themselves while living in a small trailer on-site. By the fall of 1957, it was complete, and with their two young daughters, they moved into the unique structure. Wright was pleased with their work and as a reward, designed three more buildings for the property to complement the “Studio”. These were never built, but they constructed an adapted copy of the Seth Peterson cottage in 1975. The Lovnesses became close to Mrs. Wright and the Taliesin Fellowship over the years. Their homes functioned as an “R&R” destination for apprentices, a showplace for prospective clients, and a gathering spot for Taliesin-connected architects.
Don, a 3M engineer, supplied Taliesin with specialized building materials and other 3M products, and in the 1980s re-created several of the Midway Gardens “Sprites”. He built furniture and lighting for both houses, duplicating designs from the Hollyhock and Little houses. Virginia became a close friend and confidant of Svetlana Peters, and she acted as Mrs. Wright’s co-host at Taliesin soirées in Wisconsin, visiting often enough that the “Lovness Suite” was reserved and named for them.
Daughter Lonnie grew up in the Studio from the age of six, and in this new book, she describes her parents’ determination to build two “dream homes”, with a detailed account of their construction. As “unofficial” members of the Fellowship, Don and Virginia provide fascinating stories spanning almost fifty years. The book closes with an in-depth chapter on restoring the buildings in 2015-17. With 284 pages and over 600 photos, drawings, and illustrations, “Growing Up Wright” is an insightful look at two of Wright’s Usonian masterpieces and the couple who built them, and along the way became immersed in a “Wright” life.
Author Lonnie Lovness