Thursday, March 24, 2011

Wright the 'Love Philosopher'

As reported in Southern Architect and Building News 36:3 (January 1916):

Frank Lloyd Wright, noted architect and social anarchist, has been tied again to the 'provincial whipping post.'

The lash of public criticism that fell so heavily upon Mamah Bothwick Cheney, his first 'spiritual affinity,' strikes this time at Mrs. Maude Miriam Noel, an artist of note, who has won honors abroad and in this country and was fellow-worker in Paris with Mrs. Harry Payne Whitney.

Mrs. Noel is very beautiful, and a woman of rare intellectual charm, but as she is the mother of married daughters, it was beauty and brains, not youth, that lured the love philosopher of Taliesin from the shadow of grief into the light of new love, and establishes her in the love bungalow in the woodland retreat in Wisconsin where Wright and his first 'soulmate,' Mamah Bothwick Cheney, sought seclusion when they defied the world, and he forsook his wife and she her husband, six years ago.

The tragic death of Mamah Cheney and her two children -- Cheney's children, not Wright's -- in a fire that destroyed the bungalow about a year ago, was said to be the final chapter in Wright's romance. Love died for the architect when his soulmate died, so his friends said. But they reckoned without his capacity for romance.

As he reared again the destroyed love bungalow and renamed it Taliesin, love was resurrected from his soul-mate's grave. Less than a year after she perished he met Miriam Noel. Love bloomed again in the death-blighted soul; the bungalow in the forest became a 'love castle' once more.

But the Mann act, invoked upon them by a discharged housekeeper, Mrs. Nellie Breen, intruded its slimy suggestiveness into the paradise of love and polluted it with a federal investigation, which brought Wright, his 'soul's affinity,' his strange love philosophy, his unsanctioned moral code to the 'whipping post of public opinion' again.

The investigation has been abandoned, the housekeeper may be prosecuted for slander, but Frank Wright and Miriam Noel have learned that conventionality rules the world, and the world is cruelly unkind to those who place 'personal liberty' above social convention and the moral code.

Wright's wife, whom he abandoned for Mamah Bothwick Cheney six years ago, has steadfastly refused to give him a divorce; she lives with her children at Oak Park, Ill.

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