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Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hillside Theater at Taliesin Reopens After Five-Year, $1.1 Million Restoration

June 13th, 2024

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Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hillside Theater at Taliesin Reopens After Five-Year, $1.1 Million Restoration

Historic Theater Debuts to the Public Following Significant Structural, Functional & Accessibility Improvements

 

SPRING GREEN, Wis. (June 12, 2024) – The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and Taliesin Preservation today announced the reopening of the Hillside Theater at Taliesin, Wright’s home and studio in Spring Green, following a five-year, $1.1 million restoration project to revive the space to its former glory.

Originally built in 1903 as part of the Hillside Home School founded by Wright’s aunts, the Hillside Theater has served as a historic and cultural landmark within the Driftless Area for over a century. The theater has seen various transformations over the decades, from its initial use as a multipurpose space to a dedicated playhouse for the Taliesin Fellowship, Wright’s apprentice program, where they hosted public movie screenings and concerts.

The restoration project, which began in 2019, addressed significant structural and functional challenges. Key efforts included resolving sub-grade water infiltration that had damaged the stage and surrounding areas; installing an HVAC system to improve climate control and comfort; and enhancing accessibility with new pathways and facilities. Other project focus areas included upgrades to the electrical and plumbing systems, roofing repairs, the addition of new green rooms in the basement, and exterior and interior finish repairs. Conservation specialists also restored two major Asian bodhisattva sculptures and the handmade theater curtain—designed by Wright and sewn by the Taliesin Fellowship as a gift to Wright. This meticulous work ensures the theater is not only preserved but also modernized for contemporary use.

“Restoring the Hillside Theater has been a labor of love, preserving its historical essence while integrating modern practices to ensure the space can be enjoyed for years to come,” said Ryan Hewson, director of preservation at Taliesin for the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. “The theater has always been a hub of artistic expression and community engagement, not just for Wright and the apprentices but also for the Driftless Area as a whole. By addressing structural issues, enhancing accessibility and updating the theater for present-day performances, Taliesin can continue to serve as a vibrant cultural site for future generations.”

While the Hillside Theater’s complete programming lineup for 2024 and 2025 is still being finalized, community members and visitors can experience the revitalized space through upcoming film screenings and performances, including the season opening of the Rural Musicians Forum on June 10, a showing of “Common Ground” on June 30 and a performance by the chamber music festival group Bach Dancing & Dynamite on Sept. 15.

Nestled within 800 acres and boasting over 80,000 square feet of iconic structures, Taliesin stands as a timeless emblem of creativity and architectural inspiration, where Wright designed many of his iconic masterpieces, including Fallingwater in Mill Run, Pennsylvania. Today, Taliesin remains a testament to Wright’s enduring impact, offering a glimpse into his career and personal life. Through educational programs like the Taliesin Institute, along with tours, programs and special events, it continues to beckon visitors and scholars to delve deeper into Wright’s profound influence and examine the ongoing relevance of his ideas in today’s society.

“Reopening the Hillside Theater is more than just a preservation milestone; it’s about reinvigorating a cornerstone of our cultural heritage and providing an immediate benefit—in the form of a newly restored theater—for our neighboring communities and visitors to the region,” said Stuart Graff, the president and CEO at the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. “Through performances, screenings, educational programs and community events, this space will once again inspire architects, artists and audiences, fostering a deeper connection to the arts as part of Frank Lloyd Wright’s lasting legacy.”

The $1.1 million restoration project was funded in part by grants from the National Park Service Save America’s Treasures program; the National Endowment for the Arts; the National Trust for Historic Preservation; the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation; and support from private donors and corporate partners.

For the most up-to-date information on the Hillside Theater, public programs and tours at Taliesin, visit TaliesinPreservation.org. To donate or to become a member, visit FrankLloydWright.org.

About the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, established by Wright in 1940, is dedicated to preserving Taliesin and Taliesin West, both on the World Heritage List, for future generations, and inspiring people to discover and embrace an architecture for better living through meaningful connections to nature, the arts, and each other. The Foundation continues the Frank Lloyd Wright legacy by broadening access to his ideas, works, and organic design principles — considered just as relevant today as in his own time — and provides new pathways for audiences to create beauty and connectedness in their own lives. Conveniently located 20 minutes north of historic Old Town Scottsdale, Taliesin West was recently named among the top 10% of attractions worldwide by TripAdvisor. Visit FrankLloydWright.org for more information on tour schedules, cultural and educational experiences and events. To shop the latest Wright-inspired home, design and lifestyle products, visit FrankLloydWrightStore.com.

About Taliesin Preservation

Taliesin Preservation is a Wisconsin-based 501(c)(3) founded in 1993. Its mission is to preserve Taliesin’s natural, built, and cultural environments through educational and cultural programming and provide a greater understanding of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture and ideas. In 2019, Taliesin was designated as part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site for The 20th–Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright. For more information, visit TaliesinPreservation.org.

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