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Wright Studies
MIRIAM NOEL WRIGHT
Miriam Noel Wright  (May 9, 1869 - January 3, 1930) Immediately after the tragic death of Mamah Cheney on August 15, 1914, Miriam Noel sent condolences to Wright. Within weeks Wright became involved with Miriam and she moved into Taliesin. On November 7, 1915 she was quoted in the Chicago Daily Tribune "...Frank Wright and I care nothing for what the world may think. We are as capable of making laws for ourselves as were the dead men who made the laws by which they hoped to rule the generations after them." Although Wright had not yet received a divorce from Kitty, they live together and travel to Tokyo, Japan in 1916. In 1922, Wright's first wife, Kitty, granted him a divorce. He was required to wait one year and on November 19, 1923, Miriam and Frank were married in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Their relationship was quite tumultuous. Wright explains in his Autobiography that he married her to rescue their relationship. "Marriage resulted in ruin for both. Instead of improving with marriage, as I had hoped, our relationship became worse." (An Autobiography, p 260). They quarreled a great deal, she was addicted to morphine, and in less than a year they were separated. In 1924, after the separation, but while still married, Wright met Olgivanna at the Petrograd Ballet in Chicago. On November 27, 1925 Miriam filed for a divorce, alleging desertion and cruelty. After a three year legal battle, they were divorced on August 26, 1927. Olga and Frank were married on August 25, 1928 at midnight in Rancho Santa Fe near La Jolla. The ceremony was held one year to the day after Wright’s divorce from Miriam. Miriam Noel Wright passed away on January 3, 1930 at the age of 61.
 
TIMELINE OF MIRIAM'S RELATIONSHIP TO FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT:
Immediately after the tragic death of Mamah Cheney on August 15, 1914, Miriam Noel sent condolences to Wright. Within weeks Wright became involved with Miriam and she moved into Taliesin.
1922. Wright's first wife, Kitty, granted him a divorce.
1923. He was required to wait one year and on November 19, 1923, Miriam and Frank were married in Spring Green, Wisconsin.
1924. In May 1924 Miriam walked out of Taliesin. (MT p75)
1924. Frank and Olga met at the Petrograd Ballet in Chicago Nov 30, 1924 while she was separated from her husband. (MT p75)
1925. Wright moved Olgivanna into Taliesin in February and had an out-of-wedlock child by end of year. (MT p75, 77)
1925. April 20. Second fire at Taliesin destroys the living quarters.
1925. On November 27, Miriam filed for a divorce, alleging desertion and cruelty.
1925. On December 2, Olgivanna gives birth to Wright's child Iovanna Lazovich Lloyd Wright in Chicago.
1926. Spring. Wright is photographed with his daughter Iovanna at Taliesin.
1926. On May 20 Miriam appears in Madison court room in an efforts to settle divorce, effort failed.
1926. On June 3 Miriam attempted to take Taliesen, by storm but failed to get beyond the front gate. (NYT 6/4 p 9)
1926. In August Miriam refused to grant divorce and demanded the right to live at Taliesin. She sues Olgivanna. (MT p75)
1926. In September the bank foreclosed on Taliesin Mortgage.
1926. Wright was arrested at the kitchen door of a Lake Minnetonka cottage on October 21. It developed that Mr. Wright came to Lake Minnetonka on September 7, and rented the cottage. (MT p75, 77)
1926. After Wright's arrest in October Miriam waited at the Southmoor Hotel in Chicago for instructions from her lawyer. (FF p 195)
1926. Miriam disappears from Chicago, possibly due to an eviction from the Southmoor Hotel in Chicago. They later enter a claim against her for $1500 when she left for California. (FF p 203)
1926-27. Miriam lived in the Claremont Apartments on Sutter Street in San Francisco from December 1926 to at lease Feb. 1, 1927.
1927. In January the bank orders Wright to sell some of his Japanese prints. (FF p 202)
1927. Feb. 1, Miriam found at the Claremont Apartments in San Francisco where she has been living since December 1926.
1927. March 7, Miriam says she’s going to battle for her rights, which she claims have been usurped by a pretty Russian dancer.
1927. Miriam and Frank were finally divorced on August 26. Wright travels with Olgivanna to Puerto Rico for two months. (FF p 199)
1927. Miriam arrested in dining room of Madison's Lorain Hotel for mailing Wright an obscene letter. (FF p 206)
1927. Wright, Olgivanna and children spent Winter of 1927 in rented cottage on beach at La Jolla, CA. (Masks p297)
1927. September 21, "Good-bye trouble; Hello Art. Admitting cinema ambitions and hinting at movie offers, Mrs. Frank Lloyd Wright quietly left San Francisco for Hollywood, Chicago, Paris and points East."
1928. In January the bank orders Wright out of Taliesin. In July the bank sells Taliesin at sheriff's sale. (MT p77)
1928. In January Wright heads to Arizona and consults on Arizona Biltmore. (FF p 208)
1928. In March Olga and Frank move to cottage in La Jolla, CA. (FF p 208)
1928. In July Miriam trashes Wrights cottage in La Jolla, CA and is arrested. (FF p 212)
1928. Olga and Frank were married on August 25, at midnight in Rancho Santa Fe near La Jolla. They honeymooned in Phoenix, Arizona at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel.
1928. In October, Wright, Olgivanna and children mover back into Taliesin.
1930. Miriam Noel Wright passed away on January 3, at the age of 61.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
MIRIAM NOEL WRIGHT
   
Miriam Noel Wright (Circa 1900-1910) (30-40 years old).

Miriam wearing a hat, facing slightly to the right. Courtesy of the Smithsonian Institute, Phil Fedderson collection. (Note: AIA Monthly Bulletin, Michigan Society of Architects - December 1959).  Published in “Many Masks” Gill, 1987, page 235.

(Phil H. Fedderson: A native of Clinton and a graduate of Iowa State University in Ames, Phil Feddersen gained his work experience with Alden Dow of Midland, Michigan before opening his own architectural firm in Clinton 1959. Like Dow, Feddersen has been strongly influenced by the later work of Frank Lloyd Wright. Many of Feddersen’s designs exhibit the "organic" design philosophy of Wright.)

5 x 7 B&W photograph

0041.02.0609

   
Miriam Noel Wright. (November 28, 1925)

Photographed on November 28, 1925. International Newsreel photograph.

Caption on verso reads "(Mrs. Frank Lloyd Wright). 28 Nov 1925 - With the filing of a suit for divorce by Mrs. Miriam Noel Wright, famous sculptress against Frank Wright, world renowned architect, comes to the light the first knowledge of their legal marriage four years ago. Eleven years ago, Mrs. Noel threw conventions to the wind by taking up her abode with the eccentric architect in his $80,000 "love bungalow" at Spring Green, Wis., taking the place of Wright's murdered affinity, Mamah Borthwick Cheney, whose life was snuffed out by a demented colored caretaker. Mrs. Wright scoffs at the great herald chivalry of her architect husband, and charges cruelty against him, specially mentioning one occasion when he broke two of her ribs. She also speaks of a Mrs. Olga Milanoff, young dark haired Russian, who claims entered the famous "love nest" as a servant, but remained as a sweetheart. Wright is recognized as one of the foremost architects in the world."

3.5 x 4.75 B&W photograph

0171.03.0609

   
Miriam Noel Wright. (Circa 1925-1926)

(Approximately 56 years old). On November 27, 1925, Miriam filed for a divorce, alleging desertion and cruelty.

Three versions of this image:

Image #2: Stamped on verso, Oct 29, 1926.

Image #3: Caption on verso, "New York. Mrs. Noel Wright, ex-wife of Frank Lloyd Wright, architect. A warrant has been issued for her arrest on charge of sending alleged obscene matter thru the mails." Hand written "1927". Note: Miriam and Frank were finally divorced on August 26, 1927. Miriam was arrested in dining room of Madison's Lorain Hotel for mailing Wright an obscene letter in September.

7 x 10 B&W photograph

0171.05.0310

   
Miriam Noel Wright (Circa 1925)

(Approximately 56 years old). Miriam sitting on a trunk with the initials F.LL.W. Facing slightly to the right. Caption on Verso: "Mrs. Frank Lloyd Wright, whose husband deserted her for the love of Olga Milanoff, is shown when she was evicted from her hotel for failure to pay bill."  Published in "Uncensored" October 1955, page 42. Maude Miriam Noel: May 9, 1869 - January 3, 1930. Immediately after the tragic death of Mamah Cheney on August 15, 1914, Miriam Noel sent condolences to Wright. Within weeks Wright became involved with Miriam and she moved into Taliesin. Although Wright had not yet received a divorce from Kitty, they live together and travel to Tokyo, Japan in 1916. In 1922, Wright's first wife, Kitty, granted him a divorce. He was required to wait one year and on November 19, 1923, Miriam and Frank were married in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Their relationship was quite tumultuous. Wright explains in his Autobiography that he married her to rescue their relationship. "Marriage resulted in ruin for both. Instead of improving with marriage, as I had hoped, our relationship became worse." (An Autobiography, p 260). They quarreled a great deal, she was addicted to morphine, and in less than a year they were separated. In 1924, after the separation, but while still married, Wright met Olgivanna at the Petrograd Ballet in Chicago. On November 27, 1925 Miriam filed for a divorce, alleging desertion and cruelty. After a three year legal battle, they were divorced on August 26, 1927. Olga and Frank were married on August 25, 1928 at midnight in Rancho Santa Fe near La Jolla. The ceremony was held one year to the day after Wright’s divorce from Miriam. Miriam Noel Wright passed away on January 3, 1930 at the age of 61.

4.6 x 7.5 B&W photograph

0171.04.1009

   
Miriam Noel Wright (1926)

Miriam Noel Wright, May 20, 1926 (Approximately 56 years old). Miriam Noel Wright walking on sidewalk on her way to the court room in Madison Wisconsin, holding flowers, looking down at the sidewalk. Caption on verso: "Efforts to settle outside of court the differences between Frank Lloyd Wright, internationally known high art architect and adventurer in love, and is wife, Maude Miriam Noel Wright, failed today and their divorce suit before Judge A. C. Hoppman was started shortly after noon at Madison, Wisconsin. Wright, in his bill, charges desertion and in a counter-charge, Mrs. Wright charges him with an affair with Mme. Olda Milanoff, pretty Montonigren dancer, in his "love citadel" at Green Spring, Wisc. The couple, through their attorneys were prepared to settle, but when the differences in opinion as to the amount of alimony Wright should pay was brought up, a hitch developed and the fight is just as spirited as ever. 5-20-26. ‘P and A Photo’ Chicago Bureau. ...on her way to..."

2.5 x 5.6 B&W photograph

0172.09.1210

   
Miriam Noel Wright (1926)

Miriam Noel Wright, (Circa) May 20, 1926 (Approximately 56 years old). Miriam Noel Wright smiling, looking to the left of the camera. This appears to be taken May 20, 1926, the day she appeared in Madison court room in an efforts to settle divorce, effort failed (See 172.09). She is wearing the same hat, mink, dress, necklace and purse. "The couple, through their attorneys were prepared to settle, but when the differences in opinion as to the amount of alimony Wright should pay was brought up, a hitch developed and the fight is just as spirited as ever." Hand written on verso: "Miriam Noel Wright, divorced at Madison, Wis." Stamped on verso: "Reference Dept. May 24 1926, N. E. A."

Original 8 x 10 B&W photograph.

0172.26.0116

   
Miriam Noel Wright (Circa 1926)

Portrait of Miriam Noel Wright, second wife of Frank Lloyd Wright, circa 1926. Standing behind a car. Published in "Frank Lloyd Wright A Biography" Secrest, 1992, page 279; "Frank Lloyd Wright, An Interpretive Biography", Twombly, 1973, page 144; "The Vision of Frank Lloyd Wright" Heinz, 2000, page 34, dated 1919. Courtesy Wisconsin Historical Society.

Maude Miriam Noel: May 9, 1869 - January 3, 1930. Immediately after the tragic death of Mamah Cheney on August 15, 1914, Miriam Noel sent condolences to Wright. Within weeks Wright became involved with Miriam and she moved into Taliesin. On November 7, 1915 she was quoted in the Chicago Daily Tribune "...Frank Wright and I care nothing for what the world may think. We are as capable of making laws for ourselves as were the dead men who made the laws by which they hoped to rule the generations after them." Although Wright had not yet received a divorce from Kitty, they live together and travel to Tokyo, Japan in 1916. In 1922, Wright's first wife, Kitty, granted him a divorce. He was required to wait one year and on November 19, 1923, Miriam and Frank were married in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Their relationship was quite tumultuous. Wright explains in his Autobiography that he married her to rescue their relationship. "Marriage resulted in ruin for both. Instead of improving with marriage, as I had hoped, our relationship became worse." (An Autobiography, p 260). They quarreled a great deal, she was addicted to morphine, and in less than a year they were separated. In 1924, after the separation, but while still married, Wright met Olgivanna at the Petrograd Ballet in Chicago. On November 27, 1925 Miriam filed for a divorce, alleging desertion and cruelty. After a three year legal battle, they were divorced on August 26, 1927. Olga and Frank were married on August 25, 1928 at midnight in Rancho Santa Fe near La Jolla. The ceremony was held one year to the day after Wright’s divorce from Miriam. Miriam Noel Wright passed away on January 3, 1930 at the age of 61.

3.5 x 6 B&W photograph

0156.03.0509

   
Miriam Noel Wright (1926)

Miriam Noel Wright sitting in a chair, tuned to the right, facing forward. (Possibly June 1926) Caption reads "Mrs. Frank Lloyd Wright at the Southmoor Hotel (Chicago) after her unsuccessful invasion of husband’s estate at Spring Green, Wis. She says she is confident her husband and Olga Milanoff are living there, but are dodging officers." June 3, 1926 Miriam attempted to take Taliesin, by storm but failed to get beyond the front gate (NYT 6/4 p 9).  (See time line.)

8 x 10 B&W photograph

0172.04.0110

   
Miriam Noel Wright (1926)

Miriam Noel Wright leaning against stack of pillows, handkerchief in her right hand, looking down. Same dress, head bands and handkerchief as image #172.04. Possibly June 1926 at the Southmoor Hotel after her unsuccessful invasion of husband’s estate at Spring Green, Wis. Stamped on verso: "From Chicago Bureau, 7 South Dearborn St.. Photo By Pacific & Atlantic Photos, Inc. New York City."

4 x 6 B&W photograph

0172.10.1210

   
Miriam Noel Wright (Circa 1926, Approximately 56 years old)

Miriam Noel Wright posing for camera, facing left, looking to the right. She is wearing a coat with a fur collar and a hat. Plain background, dark on left, lightens to the right. Hand written on verso: "Tony Berardi, Chicago-American." Tony Berardi was a photographer in Chicago. By 1923, at the age of 17, he became one of the youngest newspaper photographers in the country. He took the first portrait Al Capone agreed to pose for. He began his carrier as a photographer for the Chicago American newspaper. He continued as it changed to the Chicago Today and finally the Chicago Tribune. This portrait was taken during the time she refused to grant Wright a divorce, harassing and following he and Olgivanna. Hand written on verso: "Mrs. Frank Lloyd Wright. (Miriam Noel Wright)." Stamped on verso: "May 25, 1961" (date of print). Acquired from the archives of the Chicago Tribune.

Original 8 x 10 B&W print.

0172.13.0512

   
Miriam Noel Wright (Circa 1926, Approximately 56 years old)

Miriam Noel Wright, Circa 1926 (Approximately 56 years old). Miriam Noel Wright posing for camera, facing forward, looking to the right. She is wearing a coat with a fur collar. Plain background, dark on left, lightens to the right. Hand written on verso: "Tony Berardi, Chicago-American." Tony Berardi was a photographer in Chicago. By 1923, at the age of 17, he became one of the youngest newspaper photographers in the country. He took the first portrait Al Capone agreed to pose for. He began his carrier as a photographer for the Chicago American newspaper. He continued as it changed to the Chicago Today and finally the Chicago Tribune. This portrait was taken during the time she refused to grant Wright a divorce, harassing and following he and Olgivanna. Hand written on verso: "Mrs. Frank Lloyd . (Miriam Noel Wright)." Stamped on verso: "Jul 15, 1961" (date of print). Acquired from the archives of the Chicago Tribune.

Original 8 x 10 B&W print.

0172.14.0719

   

Miriam Noel Wright (February 1, 1927 - San Francisco)

International Newsreel photograph.  Caption on verso reads "Slug (Mrs. Frank Lloyd Wright).  Love's Eternal Triangle-Missing Mate Found in San Francisco.  Present wife but not the mate of Frank Lloyd Wright, noted architect, Miriam Noel Wright has been  found here, the first trace of her since her disappearance from Chicago last December.  She is firm in her determination not to permit Wright to obtain a divorce. See San Francisco Examiner Feb. 1st for Story. All Bureaus (list A) Ex.....2/2/27." Courtesy International Newsreel.  (See footnote below from San Francisco Examiner, Feb. 1, 1927.) 4.5 x 6 Print. High res digital image.

4.5 x 6 B&W photograph

0198.01.0609

Footnote: San Francisco Examiner Feb. 1, 1927: "Maud Miriam Noel Wright, the wife of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, has been living in the Claremont Apartments on Sutter Street in San Francisco since December 1926. She is recuperating in California while her suit for separate maintenance is pending and while her husband's lawyers vainly urge her to divorce him."

   
Miriam Noel Wright (March 7, 1927)

Miriam Noel Wright. (March 7, 1927) Caption on verso: "Fighting Mad. Mrs. Frank Lloyd Wright, wife of noted architect, whose marital affairs have been in the public eye for some years, says she’s going to battle for her rights, which she claims have been usurped by a pretty Russian dancer friend of Wright." Stamped on verso: "Mar 7 1927. San Francisco Bureau. Photo By Pacific & Atlantic Photos, Inc. New York City."

4 x 6 B&W photograph

0198.03.1210

   
Miriam Noel Wright (September 21, 1927)

Miriam Noel Wright. (September 21, 1927) Clipping pasted to verso: "Good-bye trouble; Hello Art. Admitting cinema ambitions and hinting at movie offers, Mrs. Frank Lloyd Wright quietly left San Francisco for Hollywood, Chicago, Paris and points East. The divorced wife of the famous Chicago architect who has filled columns of newspaper space in her legal tilt with her noted husband, has been in San Francisco more than six months. For a time she was penniless, hungry sometimes, and unable to pay her rent, she said. But a few weeks ago she was given more than $30,000 and a substantial allowance in granting her husband a divorce. 9/21/27. International Newsreel photo, San Francisco Bureau." Note: Her divorce to Wright was finalized on August 26, 1927. Miriam Noel Wright passed away on January 3, 1930.

4 x 6 B&W photograph

0198.04.1210

   
Date: 1927

Title: Miriam Noel Wright (Circa 1927).

Description: Seated in a chair, facing slightly to the right, looking to the right. Her face is slightly filling out, but still looks strained. She is wearing the same bracelet on her right wrist as she wore in the September 1, 1927 photograph. She is wearing the same ring and watch on her wrist and hand as she wore in the Circa 1928 photograph. Acquired from the archives of the Chicago Tribune.

Size: Original 8 x 10 B&W photograph.

S#: 0198.06.0512

   
Miriam Noel Wright (Circa, 1928)

Miriam Noel Wright. (Circa 1928). Her divorce to Wright was finalized on August 26, 1927. After announcing cinema ambitions in September 1927, Miriam continues to dog Olgivanna and Wright. In July 1928, she tracks them down in La Jolla, California and is arrested after trashes their home.

4 x 6 B&W photograph

0215.09.1210

   
   
   

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