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State Historical Society of Iowa

Local Relative Donates Artifacts of Frank Lloyd Wright's Father and Family

Oct 11, 2018

IOWA CITY – The father of one of the world's most celebrated architects is emerging as a legend in his own Wright.

Recently, William C. Wright's great-great-granddaughter Mary Catherine Rogers of Cedar Rapids brought him out of the shadow cast by his son, Frank Lloyd Wright, by donating a rare daguerreotype of the elder Wright to the State Historical Society of Iowa. She also donated several images of the elder Wright's daughter, Elizabeth, and other family members.

"We are deeply honored and grateful for this generous donation," said Susan Kloewer, administrator of the State Historical Society of Iowa. "Most people know about the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, and now we are able to preserve and share the wonderful story of his father's life and work."

The elder Wright (1825-1904) was a minister, lawyer, musician and composer who wrote and published songs for piano and organ. In addition to his compositions, he taught music and wrote books about piano method, organ technique and vocal production.

Rogers' donation strengthens the State Historical Society's collection of Wright-related materials. Her mother, Hope Rogers, donated a family memoir and photo album in the 1970s, and the elder Wright's sheet music in 1984. Recently, David Patterson – an expert on 19th-century music – used the sheet music to create a CD of the elder Wright's music called "The Music of William C. Wright: Solo Piano and Vocal Works, 1847-1893."

Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) was born in Wisconsin and became a chief assistant to Louis Sullivan, the great American architect known as "the father of skyscrapers." He later founded his own architectural firm and inspired a style known as the Prairie School, which featured nature-inspired designs. During his career, he created some of the most iconic homes and commercial buildings in the world, including Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisc.; Falling Water in Pittsburgh, Penn.; and the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

The Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs and its three divisions – the Iowa Arts Council, Produce Iowa - State Office of Media Production and the State Historical Society of Iowa – empower Iowa to build and sustain culturally vibrant communities by connecting Iowans to the people, places and points of pride that define our state. The department’s work enables Iowa to be recognized as a state that fosters creativity and serves as a catalyst for innovation where the stories of Iowa are preserved and communicated to connect past, present and future generations.