The Right Coast

March 04, 2004
 
Wright A Footnote to History
By Maimon Schwarzschild

Odd Connections Department (a propos of Tom's "cool site" about Frank Lloyd Wright): Wright's apprentice and leading disciple was one William Wesley Peters. Peters inherited Wright's architectural practice as well as Wright's Taliesin estate and leadership of the commune-like "fellowship" at Taliesin, having married Wright's adopted daughter Svetlana in 1936. There is lots about Wesley Peters here .

But Svetlana Wright was Wesley Peters' first wife. She and their son and an unborn child were tragically killed in a car crash in 1946. Years later, strongly encouraged by Frank Lloyd Wright's widow, Peters then met and married... Svetlana Alliluyeva, the daughter of a different sort of architect: Joseph Stalin. (Robert Conquest, in his great book about the Soviet purges of the 1930s "The Great Terror", calls Stalin "the architect of terror".)

Wright's widow was something of a cultist, and she had become obsessed with the idea that Svetlana Alliluyeva, Stalin's daughter, was the reincarnation of the dead Svetlana Wright. Hence her urgent encouragement of Peters' second marriage.

Wesley Peters and Svetlana Alliluyeva had a daughter of their own, who is therefore Stalin's American granddaughter -- by way of Taliesin and the world of Frank Lloyd Wright.