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A Frightful Night: Halloween at Taliesin and Taliesin West

Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation | Oct 31, 2019

At Frank Lloyd Wright’s two homes Taliesin and Taliesin West, Olgivanna and Frank Lloyd Wright often celebrated the holidays in lavish style including Halloween, where the Wright’s and Taliesin Fellowship dressed in costume and enjoyed a feast.

Beginning in the late 1930s, every October, Olgivanna and Frank Lloyd Wright would host a Halloween party at one of their two homes, Taliesin in Wisconsin or Taliesin West in Arizona. Along with the Taliesin Fellowship, they would dress in costume, and invite guests to join for a night of frights, feasting, and fun. Wright wrote to Herbert Fritz in a 1936 letter, “We are having our traditional Halloween party Saturday night, October 31st … please come with costumes and masks, so that we may not recognize one another – for a few minutes or even hours, maybe!”

Olgivanna and Frank Lloyd Wright dressed as Montenegrin royalty, Halloween, 1940. ©2018 Pedro E. Guerrero Archive

Children dressed in costume with Iovanna Lloyd Wright at Taliesin West.

A 1938 Taliesin Halloween party invitation

 

A 1938 Taliesin Halloween party invitation

 

In a 1938 Halloween party invitation, hand-drawn by Wright apprentice William Wesley Peters, the schedule for the party included, “Grand March in the Great Hall, Prize of Beauty, Horror Quest, Feasting and Unholy Reveling.”

Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Oral Historian and Legacy Fellow Indira Berndtson interviewed Wes Peters in 1990 and he recalled a Halloween celebration at Taliesin West on the Sunset Terrace in the early 1940s: “We had marvelous lanterns hanging out there on poles tacked to the trusses. Mr. and Mrs. Wright were King and Queen and judged which was the best costume. Johnny Hill was a Roman soldier; Iovanna was Maid Marion…”

This tradition continued for many years to come, and was documented by Dr. Joe Rorke, Wright’s personal physician, in The Whirling Arrow, an internal newsletter for the Taliesin community, where he documented life at Taliesin West through photos, writings, and other memorabilia.

Halloween, 1989, Taliesin West.

Halloween, 1986, Taliesin West.

Halloween, 1986, Taliesin West.

Halloween, 1989, Taliesin West.

News and updates from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation