Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I'm at the Imperial Hotel. Where are You?

The architect who steals my covers recently returned from the annual Frank Lloyd Wright conference with this piece of memorabilia.


I'm re-posting the card from a previous post that shows the hotel itself, along with the background information.

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, 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. Oh my, did I learn something new here, it's not very often you hear about anything of any taboo nature connected to Wright....very interesting Waston! On the line where it says Whom aru you ...could be the beginning of the texting era LOL if they'd dropped the word you....! Aru having a great week! Thanks for this new twist in the life of Wright!

  2. I am a big fan of Wright and yet, knew nothing if this awful scar. Does nothing get past Christine? Great work!

  3. Oh, Karen and Test, both Wright's personal and professional life were full of scandals and zingers- there are numerous biographies out there if you want all the dirt.... I'm just glad he designed so many incredible buildings, otherwise I would have to hate him. Actually, as an architect, maybe I should hate him for that too! A couple factoid additions on Christine's item #1- four other people were murdered that day along with Cheney and her children, and Wright was actually overseeing construction of his Midway Gardens project in Chicago, not at his office when the event occurred.

  4. I never heard about that scandal before. I would love to stay someplace like that old hotel.

  5. Archie, thanks for the input, I will probably have to check it out...I find it so amazing it slipped by me...I live in MInnesota and have lived in Michigan and gone on several tours of his houses along the way, and he's been presented so well at the Mpls. Art Museum, perhaps thought like you said it's better not knowing all that other stuff....but the mystery lover that I am now the others who lost their lives as well have me curious! Thanks!



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