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News and updates from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

Wright Society Brings Wright Enthusiasts Together with Virtual Summit

Bryan Kelly | Oct 3, 2017

The 2017 Wright Society Virtual Summit, taking place from October 20 – 22 will explore Frank Lloyd Wright’s 150 years of creative impact on generations of architects, clients, and apprentices.

For the last two years, a unique and free online event called “The Wright Society Virtual Summit” has offered the opportunity for thousands of geographically dispersed casual and ardent Frank Lloyd Wright enthusiasts to conveniently engage over the course of several days with online sessions that feature interviews with Wright experts, historians, and homeowners.

Free registration to this year’s event taking place on October 20-22, 2017 is now open. This year’s theme explores Frank Lloyd Wright’s 150 years of creative impact on generations of architects, clients, and apprentices.

Special guests include historian and author Kathryn Smith; original Wright homeowner Roland Reisley; 3rd generation owners of Wright’s Muirhead Farmhouse, Sarah (Muirhead) and Mike Petersdorf; documentary filmmaker Rob Barros; and architectural historian William Blair Scott, Jr.

From left: Bryan Kelly, Lisa Kelly, and Eric O’Malley.

Now you may be wondering, “What exactly is the Wright Society?” Let’s share a little background on the origins of this unique confluence of 21st century technology and Frank Lloyd Wright.

For over a decade Bryan Kelly, Lisa Kelly and her brother Eric O’Malley have taken great pride in serving fellow Wright enthusiasts through a variety of different mediums. In 2006, they created “PrairieMod” — one of the early blogs that shared news, interviews, and website links surrounding their interest in helping to preserve Mr. Wright’s legacy.

PrairieMod kept the Wright community informed about threatened buildings, artifacts, and preservation issues — even going so far as to save several historic buildings from demolition. As a result, the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy honored Eric, Lisa, and Bryan in 2011 with a Wright Spirit Award.

After years of cultivating a community while interacting with a global audience of like-minded Wright enthusiasts, the trio saw a void. In U.S. locales such as Oak Park, Chicago, Madison, Milwaukee, Buffalo, Scottsdale, and so on, there is a wealth of Wright-centric programming, lectures, symposiums, and more. However, not everyone has the time or budget to travel and attend such outings.

In an effort to fill this need and grow understanding and appreciation for Wright’s legacy to new audiences, Lisa, Bryan, and Eric developed the concept of a virtual event that would bring thousands of Frank Lloyd Wright enthusiasts from around the world together to hear discussions with leading experts. An “event” where there’s no travel and something folks could easily enjoy participating in at no cost. Thus, the Wright Society Virtual Summit was born in 2015.

Based on the overwhelmingly well-received success of the first two years, the decision was made to evolve the daily newsblog, PrairieMod, into the weekly Wright Society Newsletter, which is published every Wednesday via email, to continue fostering this new and growing audience in a more integrated fashion with the yearly Summit. This easy-to-read curated digest has quickly become the #1 source for dozens of the most important weekly Wright news items.

So what can attendees expect from the 2017 Wright Society Virtual Summit? Each year Lisa, Bryan, and Eric spend a great deal of time considering a theme for the Summit. The first year’s theme was Starting Wright, where the architect’s early roots and influences were explored to gain a deeper understanding of his design genius. For the second year it was Prairie Revolution, where Wright’s beloved Prairie era was discussed in detail.

Since 2017 is the sesquicentennial of Wright’s birth, it seemed only natural to explore Wright’s long-lasting impact on clients, architects, and apprentices.

Here’s a brief summary of each 2017 session and what attendees can expect:

Session One – Wright on Exhibit

Kathryn Smith, historian and author, reveals enlightening research into Wright’s exhibits and how they spread his architectural ideas.

Session Two – Life in Usonia

Original Wright homeowner Roland Reisley shares his earliest memories of joining the Usonian cooperative in Pleasantville, New York.

Session Three – Restoring the Muirhead Farmhouse

Sarah (Muirhead) and Mike Petersdorf share the story of three generations of family members living in Wright’s Usonian Muirhead Farmhouse.

Session Four – John H. Howe: The Poet in Stone

Rob Barros, documentary filmmaker and producer, discusses the life and work of Frank Lloyd Wright apprentice John H. Howe.

Session Five – William Wesley Peters: Taliesin’s First Fellow

Architectural historian William Blair Scott, Jr. shares insights into Taliesin apprentice William Wesley Peters and his important place in Wright’s legacy.

Another new aspect to this year’s event is the addition of a community discussion forum called Wright Society Chat. It’s the newest way for Wright Society members to share insights from the Virtual Summit and enjoy all things Frank Lloyd Wright with other like-minded architectural enthusiasts. Visitors to Wright Society Chat will experience an easy-to-use discussion forum that is meant to be a fun and educational place to ask questions, share images, and generally add to the collective understanding of Frank Lloyd Wright’s life, work, and legacy.

Thankfully, the support of friends and partners like the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation helps bring this fascinating and globally accessible virtual summit each year to individuals just like you for free.

About the author

Bryan Kelly is the co-founder of WrightSociety.com and PrairieMod.com and has interviewed scores of Frank Lloyd Wright historians, apprentices, and homeowners since 2006. Additionally, Bryan is a former licensee of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and has developed and produced a variety of licensed objects such as art prints, laser-cut wall art, and decorative stencils.

News and updates from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation