Monday, October 02, 2006

Frank Lloyd Wright's Meeting House

The Unitarian Meeting House can be seen as exemplifying national trends in post-World War II American culture for its suburban location and modernist design, but it does so with an air of nonconformity that reflects the social and architectural sensibilities Frank Lloyd Wright had cultivated late in his career and which were unique to the architect.The church is significant as a highly personal expression of the faith, heritage and aspirations of Wright as he approached the end of his life.

The Meeting House also is significant internationally as a premier example of Wright’s late Usonian architecture, yet unusual for its non-residential application. As was typical throughout Wright’s career, the Meeting House was ahead of its time and presaged trends to come. The amalgam of old and new elements in the Meeting House reveals how very personal the building was to Wright and therefore how unique it is within his work. Drawing upon youthful memories and other religious structures with which he was familiar or had designed, Wright created a church that bears testimony both to his nineteenth-century heritage and twentieth-century vision.In April 1959 Rev. Gaebler, the minister of the First Unitarian Society of Madison, officiated at Wright’s funeral at Unity Chapel (near Taliesin) and burial in the adjacent Lloyd Jones family cemetery. At his time of death, the Unitarian Meeting House was the only large public building Wright had lived to see constructed in Wisconsin, an architectural signature statement in the state where he was born and the city he had once called home.