Sunday, September 20, 2009

"So Ed Gein and Frank Lloyd Wright drive to a bar..."

Given my noted fondness for all things Crosley, I'm not surprised when friends send me Crosley-related stuff. 


This, however, wrinkled my brow:

I'm fairly certain that infamous serial killer Ed Gein and legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright never met, the photo above notwithstanding.  So, when my pal Davide, an Italian architect, sent a confused query about the above pic it definitely caught me by surprise.

A little google sleuthing turned up the answer- the image is from Wisconsinology, a blog devoted to all things from the Badger State.  I quickly found the same image without Gein-   showing Wright and his second wife Olgivanna in one of Wright's fleet of HotShots- someone simply  photoshopped Gein into  Olgivanna's place.  There is no explanation with the altered image, but it does link two of Wisconsin's best-known citizens.  
Though it is extremely unlikely that Wright ever encountered the reclusive Gein, he was all too close to another notorious mass murderer.

In 1914 Frank Lloyd Wright was one of the most famous architects in America.  His Prairie Houses had set a standard for modern home design, and public buildings such as the Unity Temple and the Larkin Building were some of the most advanced of their time.  Much to the chagrin of the neighbors, he lived openly with his mistress Mamah Cheney at Taliessin, his Wisconsin estate.

On August 15, 1914, while Wright was away at work, a disgruntled employee named Julian Carleton locked up the house as Cheney, her children and several guests had lunch.  Carleton poured kerosene on the grounds and set fire to the house with nine people inside.  When Cheney and the others managed to break out of the burning house, Carleton attacked them with an axe.  Of the nine people in the house that day, seven were killed, including Mamah Cheney and her two children.  No one has ever discovered why Carleton committed the crime.  He drank acid before he was captured and died in jail soon afterward.

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