News and updates from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

Preservation of Davison Apartment at Taliesin

Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation | Mar 3, 2020

At Taliesin in Wisconsin, our preservation team is working to restore and update a historic communal living space in order to return it to a multi-person dwelling. Here we share the current progress of the project.

The Davison Apartment is one of many communal living spaces that are still in use at Taliesin. This apartment is named after Kay and Allen Lape “Davy” Davison and their two children, Tal and Celeste who lived at Taliesin in the 1950s. It is believed that Davy Davison did much of the built-in work throughout the apartment. Records indicate that the apartment has served as living quarters for individuals or couples since at least the 1930s.

The space contains three bedrooms, a kitchenette, a living room, and a full bathroom. Our preservation team is working to return the space to its historical roots as a multi-person dwelling, that will allow for more people to experience life at Taliesin. Updates and rehabilitation of the space include cleaning and refinishing woodwork throughout, restoration of a built-in desk, and updates to the bathroom and kitchenette. This work is currently in progress and is anticipated to be completed by the end of March. Below, Director of Preservation at Taliesin, Ryan Hewson, shares photos showing the progress of the work that has been completed so far.


Refinishing Wood Elements

Much of this apartment had wooden paneling and wooden closet doors. This before and after shows the storage cupboards before and after work. In this very labor-intensive process, the crew gently cleaned and used a wax stripper to remove built up residue. Two new coats of shellac were applied, finally a coat of wax was applied over top to help protect the surfaces and make maintenance easier.

Wood paneling in the Davison Apartment before refinishing

Wood paneling in the Davison Apartment after refinishing

The Davison Apartment with wood refinishing in progress

The Davison Apartment before wood refinishing




Bathroom and Plumbing Updates

All of the plumbing fixtures in this bathroom were replaced. The historic tub and hardware were retained and all of the finishes were restored.

The Davison Apartment bathroom before restoration

The Davison Apartment bathroom after restoration


Restoration of the desk in progress in the Davison Apartment


Desk Restoration

This desk, built and designed by an apprentice, was restored and rebuilt where necessary, due to years of use. These photos show the desk in the process of being repaired.

Restoration of the desk in progress in the Davison Apartment


This work was made possible thanks to the generous support of the Kohler Trust for Preservation.