Images copyright © 2019 Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Scottsdale, AZ. All rights reserved.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York)
In celebration of Centre College’s 200th anniversary, The Wright Angle explores the Norton Center’s distinct design and its relationship to architectural pioneers Frank Lloyd Wright and William Wesley Peters. The exhibit examines how Centre College partnered with the Taliesin Foundation, one of the 20th century’s most acclaimed architectural firms, to build its world-class performing arts venue/arts and learning organization in a small Central Kentucky town. In addition, discover other local and Kentucky-based buildings influenced by architects Wright and Peters.
Uncover the truth behind the legends and lore surrounding the Norton Center through this collection of photos, essays, exploration stations, walking tours and much more.
“This exhibit is a love story to a building that, since 1973, has offered world-renowned, rich cultural presentations and excellent, arts-based classes for thousands of people annually.” — Steve Hoffman, Executive Director of the Norton Center for the Arts
THE WRIGHT ANGLE
THE NORTON CENTER FOR THE ARTS, WILLIAM WESLEY PETERS AND FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT
September – December 2019
This exhibit is free and open to the public 9 am – 4 pm Monday through Friday, as well as by appointment and when the Norton Center is open for concerts and related activities.
William Wesley Peters
William Wesley Peters served as the chief architect for the Taliesin Associated Architects of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. Peters played a vital role within the design and engineering of the Norton Center and collaborated with Wright for more than a quarter of a century.
Frank Lloyd Wright was the greatest American Architect of the Twentieth Century. In 1932, with his wife Olgivanna, he founded the Taliesin Fellowship – a creative community of Architectural students, Artists, Musicians and other talented individuals. This would prove to be one of the most successful experiments in Architectural education and exists to this day. During this period, Wright created some of the most iconic buildings in the world of Architecture including Fallingwater, the Johnson Wax Complex, the Guggenheim Museum and hundreds of private residences.
From his return to the Taliesin Fellowship in 1936, after being the “first” apprentice in 1932-33, William Wesley Peters was one of Wright’s primary associates in this endeavor. An engineer by training, Peters was an essential contributor to many of these projects. In addition, Peters and John H. Howe, were in charge of running the school and office in Wright’s stead. Peters was also the Secretary of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation from its inception in 1940.
Peters most significant role in the Taliesin Fellowship and Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation came following Wright’s death on April 12, 1959. At that time, he became the Chief Architect and Vice-President of the Foundation. Mrs. Wright was President until her death in 1985, when Peters would transition into that role.
Simply put, William Wesley Peters, assumed the lead of one of the most significant Architectural offices of the Twentieth century including the duties of finishing numerous buildings designed by Wright, but not completed, including some of his most significant works including the Guggenheim Museum, the Greek Orthodox Temple, the Marin County Civic Center and the Beth Shalom Synagogue. In some cases, the buildings were almost complete and others had not even begun. The responsibility of this challenge can not be overstated. In addition to all of this was the responsibility of running a school of over 50 students who had to be fed and housed, the upkeep of Wright’s two homes – Taliesin and Taliesin West, and being a single parent to his son – Brandoch.
I first met William Wesley Peters at Taliesin in 1989. Apparently, few, if any, architectural researchers had ever come to specifically discuss his work, as opposed to numerous researchers that had interviewed him about Mr. Wright’s work. I had come to ask about two of Mr. Wright’s houses, of which he was only familiar with one, and his several Kentucky works including the Lincoln Life Tower and the Centre College Fine Arts Center (now the Norton Center).
My friendship with William Wesley Peters was all too short. On July 18h, 1991, I received a call from Wes’s secretary that Wes died on July 17, 1991. Since that time, I have been fascinated with the life of my friend, Wes, and tried at every opportunity to learn more about his incredible life. I am pleased to now be a friend of his son, Brandoch, and pleased to attempt to document Wes Peter’s life and work.
William Blair Scott, Jr.
Biographer, William Wesley Peters
Co-Founder, OA+D Archives
Secretary, Taliesin Fellows
William Wesley Peters and Frank Lloyd Wright
8 April 1970 Svetlana Alliluyeva is to marry William Wesley Peters, the American architect and protege to Frank Lloyd Wright.
1971 Svetlana Peters gives interview after the birth of her daughter Olga Peters.
Frank Lloyd Wright
Frank Lloyd Wright was a transcendent American architect, writer, and interior designer who helped to design more than 500 completed projects throughout the United States. Practicing organic architecture, he relied heavily on harmony, humanity, and their relationship to the environment. Wright was recognized in 1991 by the American Institute of Architects as the “greatest American architect of all time.” The Norton Center, originally opening in 1973, is a renowned example of Wright’s innovative structures and holistic design method.