August 15, 2008
Murder at Taliesin
On August 15, 1914 Mamah Borthwick Cheney, her two young children, Martha aged 9 and John aged 11, and four workmen were brutally murdered at Taliesin, the Wisconsin home that Frank Lloyd Wright had built for himself and Mamah. Julian Carlton, a 30-year old servant from Barbados, locked all the exits, set fire to the home, and then waited, ax in hand, for the terrified people to try to escape. Two others were able to escape alive, but wounded, to run for help. Wright was in Chicago at the time working on the construction of the Midway Gardens.
Mamah was quite an accomplished woman. She had earned a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Michigan, spoke six languages and was an advocate of women's rights. In 1903, her then husband, Edwin Cheney, a successful electrical engineer, commissioned Wright to build them a house in Oak Park. Mamah and Frank were instantly attracted to one another and their resulting affair was the scandal of the age. Mamah and Edwin eventually divorced in 1911.
THE MASTER BUILDERS By KEN BURNS (VANITY FAIR - NOVEMBER 1998)
Mystery of the murders at Taliesin