Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation in Turmoil

Plagued by legal and financial problems, the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation in Scottsdale, Arizona, may have to shut its doors by 2007, the Associated Press reports.

The organization, which was created to preserve the legacy of the renowned American architect, controls an architecture school that bears Wright's name and houses his archives. It also controls millions of dollars in licensing deals and two national historic landmark campuses that host 150,000 visitors a year: Taliesin, Wright's main home in Spring Green, Wisconsin, and Taliesin West, a 540-acre camp Wright started building in Scottsdale in 1937. Since April, however, the organization has gone through two chief executives and a licensing director, while the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture has lost its dean, much of its faculty, and half its enrollment, which now stands at eleven. In addition, seven of the twenty seats on the organization's board are unfilled, and the board's composition — mostly members of a community who live and work at Taliesin — violates the organization's bylaws and could jeopardize its tax-exempt status.

Thanks to a drop in tourists, finances also are a concern, and few outside benefactors have stepped forward to help. Annual upkeep for the two campuses is about $1.5 million, and rising, and the organization pays significant real estate taxes on some of its Arizona land. According to Wright Foundation officials, the situation is so dire that the board recently endorsed an emergency proposal to raise $100 million. "We are an organization in chaos," said vice president Beverly Hart.

"Leadership Woes Making Wright Foundation Shaky." Associated Press 03/08/2005.