Saturday, October 14, 2006

Haunted by ghost of Wright's mistress, or just a newspaper's juvenile antics?


Under the editorial direction of Ellen Foley, the Wisconsin State Journal has been trying hard to combat the crisis of eroding profits and falling stock prices that beset today's newspaper industry by by luring younger readers with "news you can use." The U.S. is bogged down in the quagmire in Iraq and approaching decisive congressional elections. So what kind of news do we need?

Yesterday, it being Friday the 13th and all, we apparently needed a consumer's guide to haunted places complete with numbered map -- "13 Haunted Places" -- dominating the front page above the fold. Number six on the list was Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin.
Taliesin, Highway C, Spring Green

In 1909, Frank Lloyd Wright abandoned his wife and children in Chicago and fled to Europe with Mamah Cheney, the wife of a client. On their return Wright built the home he named Taliesin in Spring Green.

In 1914 a servant went mad and murdered Cheney, her two children and five others at Taliesin before setting fire to the estate. Wright later rebuilt, but the restless spirit of Cheney is said to occasionally be seen on the grounds, dressed in a long, white gown.
The State Journal's tabloid style coverage is part of a long tradition. There always were people who trashed the reputation of Wisconsin's great native son by turning the great tragedy of his life into evidence of his immorality and proof of God's punishment. Of all the reasons to visit Taliesin, stalking ghosts is not exactly high on the list.

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