Frank Lloyd Wright‘s love life was plagued by disaster from the start. He fell in love with Catherine, who he wed two years later. The pair had six children and lived lavishly, filling entire rooms with chandeliers and elaborate murals. Their romance ended when Wright left Catherine after falling for Martha Cheney, who was one of his client’s wives. Wright and Martha, who was known as Mamah, fled to Europe, but Catherine refused to divorce him.
After returning to America, Wright and Mamah moved to Wisconsin, where they began to build a house. While Wright was on business in Chicago, one of the workers brutally murdered Mamah and her children. A heartbroken Wright soon fell in love with Miriam Noel, who had been sending Wright explicit messages under the guise of sympathy notes. Noel and Wright married, but soon divorced after Noel tried to get Wright in trouble for violating the Mann Act by transporting her over state lines for “immoral reasons.”
Soon after the divorce, Wright married Olga Hinzenberg. The pair developed the Taliesin Fellowship, which was really a way for Wright to solicit aspiring architects to do all of the work on his properties for no payment. In fact, they had to pay tuition in order to participate. Wright forced his students to not only work for him, but to cook, clean, and run his errands. He also dictated his workers’ sex lives, and would rotate the few women in the fellowship between the men, and forced them to sleep together.
Wright was also known for being narcissistic, and friends said that he had never met a mirror he didn’t like. His behavior was also contradictory: While he built schools for Black children in the South, he also publicly used racist language.