Monday, December 14, 2009

Frank Lloyd Wright's Imperial Hotel

At the turn of the century, there was an increased demand for rooms for foreign visitors to Japan. In order to meet that demand, a directive was issued to build the Imperial Hotel. Frank Lloyd Wright was hired for the project in 1916. He designed just about every aspect of the hotel, including doorknobs and carpets.

According to the architect who steals my covers every night, these are some of the significant aspects of the hotel:
  1. The job was an important one for Wright because he had no work at the time. He was still recovering from the murder of his mistress Mamah Borthwick-Cheney, who had been hacked to death with a hatchet along with her two children at Wright's house at Taliesin. The murder was committed by one of Wright's servants, who had just served them lunch moments before. After that, the servant also burned down Wright's precious Taliesin house. Frank Lloyd Wright was at his office in Chicago at the time. The scandal of the affair with Borthwick-Cheney and her subsequent murder diminished Wright's appeal to prospective clients.
  2.  The Imperial Hotel managed to withstand the great Kanto earthquake in 1923, which destroyed just about every other building in the vicinity.
  3. The hotel was demolished in 1967 because the property values were so high that a two-story building simply didn't make financial sense. The center part of the building was preserved and reconstructed at the Meiji Mura Museum, an outdoor architectural museum in Inuyama.


  1. Demolished - a crime against humanities. Ever been to Fallingwater?

  2. What a shame this wasn't preserved. I knew there was some scandal involving Wright, but didn't know the sad details. Thanks for another informative postcard!



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