This is Lee Ward, 93. I met him yesterday at one my listings which is a pair of homes he designed.
Lee apprenticed under Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin West from 1955 to 1957. Lee was living in San Francisco when he wandered into V.C. Morris gift shop on Maiden Lane that was in a building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and built in 1948. He told me that he stood in amazement until a clerk offered to show him a book that had pictures of Fallingwater, designed by Wright in 1938. Lee said that it was in that moment he decided to be an architect.
I asked Lee if he knew Edgar Tafel whom I met on a hard-hat tour of the Guggenheim in New York during renovations in 1992. Edgar had invited a group, which included Gary and me, to his house where he talked about his years at Taliesin and how Fallingwater had been drawn in one afternoon. Lee laughed and confirmed that Edgar was still there as a senior architect when he arrived and that the story Edgar told me was absolutely true. He took a serious tone when he explained that the drawings may have been done in a few hours, but that “it had all been in Mr. Wright’s head all the while”.
The houses Lee designed in Elk for a lumber baron are spectacular. My involvement with the property and its marketing have been pure joy. If you’d like to experience them, visit: MID-CENTURY ELK to access the full slideshow and virtual tours.
Upon departure our eyes locked during a long handshake and I understood that something special had just happened. Lee hadn’t been in the houses for over 60 years and acknowledged that he wouldn’t likely be back. It was a bittersweet good-bye to Elk for the old man, and I hadn’t expected to be so happy being a part of it.