Hagen History Center Celebrates Wright’s Birthday by Bringing San Fransisco Office to Pennsylvania
Erie County Historical Society-Hagen History Center | Jun 9, 2021
Employees at the Erie County Historical Society-Hagen History Center celebrated the 154th anniversary of Frank Lloyd Wright’s birth with the announcement that Wright’s iconic San Francisco office is the newest exhibit in Erie, Pennsylvania.
Employees at the Erie County Historical Society-Hagen History Center celebrated Frank Lloyd Wright’s birthday in style. The team announced that Wright’s iconic San Francisco office is the newest exhibit in Erie, Pennsylvania, with blog posts, social media and traditional media stories hitting all afternoon and evening. It will be available for visitors to walk through for the first time on July 17 when the Hagen History Center reopens to the public. The center made the announcement during a Facebook Live event in honor of Frank Lloyd Wright’s birthday, June 8, 1867.
The center made the announcement during a Facebook Live event in honor of Frank Lloyd Wright’s birthday, June 8, 1867. Wright’s 1930 Cord L-29 Cabriolet, will also be on display along with a 17-foot model of The Butterfly Bridge a structure designed to connect San Francisco and Oakland across the bay with a monumental reinforced concrete bridge, proposed in 1949. While the bridge was never built, the impressive model was featured in the Bruce Willis film “Die Hard.”
“The office is a permanent exhibit, but the Cord is on loan only until October, and the bridge will be here for at least a year,” said Executive Director George Deutsch, of Hagen History Center.
The world-famous architect’s office is housed in a new, specially designed building at 356 W. Sixth St., Erie. “We’re looking forward to sharing the original office where Frank Lloyd Wright worked with his associate Aaron Green,” said Deutsch. “This is exactly as it was more than 60 years ago. When visitors enter, they will feel they walked into the office when the staff stepped out for lunch. Wright also used the office as the original location for the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.”
While many recognize Wright’s homes at Taliesin in Wisconsin and Taliesin West in Arizona as his primary studios, Wright used the San Francisco office when he tended to Bay Area projects from 1951 until his death in 1959.
“This is exactly as it was more than 60 years ago. When visitors enter, they will feel they walked into the office when the staff stepped out for lunch.”
Green continued to use it as his own office, and it was later moved to the Heinz Architectural Center at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, but there, it was behind glass and visitors were not permitted to walk through.
The office came to Erie through the generosity of Hagen History Center benefactor Thomas B. Hagen, who purchased the office from Jim Sandoro, owner of the Buffalo Transportation Pierce Arrow Museum.
The office will be immediately added to the list of public Wright sites around the world. Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation’s Vice President of Communication & Partnerships Jeff Goodman said, “We are thrilled to welcome our friends in Erie to the Frank Lloyd Wright family, and we anticipate the city’s proximity to properties in Ohio, New York and the Pittsburgh area will certainly be attractive to tourists. A personal tour of a Wright building can be a life-changing experience for visitors, and we’re excited for people to be able to walk through the San Francisco office for the first time ever.”
Erie’s Jeff Kidder, of Kidder Architects, and Mike Jefferys, of Kidder Jefferys Construction LLC, handled curation and installation. Kidder served as curator, and Jefferys led the physical installation team. “It’s the one thing he designed for himself in California,” Kidder said of Wright. “It was located on the second floor of a four-story building, and visitors will get that feeling as soon as they enter the exhibit.” Hagen History Center will hold several interactive discussions regarding Wright’s architecture in the coming months with national and local speakers.