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A Man Killed Frank Lloyd Wright’s Lover And 6 Others. A Century Later, No One Knows Why.

Famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright was not at home when a hatchet-wielding employee murdered seven people and set fire to the Wisconsin house that Wright had built for the woman he loved.

She was the killer’s first victim.

Wright, then 47, lived for another four decades after the tragedy, and the mass murder remains a nearly forgotten chapter of his life.

But headlines at the time screamed about the bloodshed at Wright’s “Love Cottage” — so dubbed by scandal-hungry newspapers because Wright had left his wife and six children and built the Wisconsin home to live with Martha “Mamah” Borthwick. The two had met through her husband, Edwin Cheney, who’d commissioned Wright to design a house for his family.

Wright and Borthwick began an affair and lived together for a period in Europe. The Cheneys got a divorce, but Wright’s wife, Catherine Lee Tobin, refused to grant him one. So Wright and Borthwick moved to Spring Green, Wisconsin, to live openly as a couple far from the disapproving Chicagoans who were scandalized by their relationship.

The innovative architect was known for bucking convention as much as for his architecture. He would go on to design the spiraling Guggenheim Museum in New York, and was already famous at the time for his Midwest “prairie”-style homes fitted with stained-glass windows and the unique integration of “ form and function ” in his designs.

Wright designed and built the Wisconsin house and a studio in 1911. He called the estate Taliesin, a Welsh name meaning “ shining brow ,” a reference to its location in the “brow” of a hillside. It was about 180 miles northwest of Chicago, Wright’s original base, where he was working on Aug. 15, 1914, the day of the killings.

The victims

It was warm that

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