Growing up Wright (and Wrong…)

We are anxious and excited to read Lonnie Lovness’ new book, Growing Up Wright, which celebrates her family’s experience making and living in a home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It will be under our tree as a family gift.

Moreover, it was a joy to be able to visit the Lovness’ estate virtually during this year’s Homeowners & Public Sites Preservation Happy Hour hosted by the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, last month. The spaces and places designed by Wright and built by the Lovnesses are simply spectacular. We hope the Building Conservancy will make the recordings available soon so that you might see them too.

This week we found this 1928 image of Virginia (Teddy) Kibbie and her classmates at Atwater School, four blocks from the Elizabeth Murphy House. Like Lonnie, Teddy and her older sister Mary grew up in a Wright-designed house, the American System-Built Model A203, and the subject of this blog. Teddy is standing in the upper left corner (and her future husband Carl is in the second row.)

But unlike the Lovnesses, the Kibbies were not able to savor their experience in their new home by Wright for many reasons. In fact, Kibbie memories of their time in the home were so searingly negative as to be packed up and hidden away for many generations. Right or wrong, they blamed Frank Lloyd Wright for much of it.

If nothing else, Wright’s life and work are paradoxic. Dark while light. Joyous while sad. And always provocative if not controversial. Therefore, the experiences of the folks touched by Wright’s designs can be opposites, too. The new book Frank Lloyd Wright’s Forgotten House (published by The University of Wisconsin Press, March 2021) will explore the other side of Growing up Wright.

Thank you Lonnie, for contributing to the story. We can’t wait to meet you in person to share stories!

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