The most iconic and savage event in Frank Lloyd Wright’s turbulent and nearly century-long life took place on August 15, 1914, at his rural and stunning cantilevered hillside home, Taliesin, in Spring Green, Wisconsin. A black employee in a white serving tunic, supposed to be setting out the noonday meal, went berserk with gasoline and a shingling hatchet. In 12 to 14 minutes of blurring chaos, quiet-seeming Julian Carlton, who probably never weighed more than 150 pounds in his life, managed to murder or fatally wound seven people. (Three died more or less instantly, and four others lingered for several hours or days.) Three of his victims were children under the age of 14, although none were Wright’s own children.
The greatest architect America has yet produced wasn’t home that infernal day. He was down in Chicago on business.