[WARNING: This post has extremely graphic descriptions of gore and violence.]
|Frank Lloyd Wright c. 1914. Photo: Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation|
Wright's personal home, Taliesin, was completed in Spring Green in 1911. Wright and Mamah moved that Christmas and began settling in, planning to wed once their respective divorces became final. The couple loved the home and Mamah hired help to keep it running smoothly. Julian Carlton, and his wife Gertrude, were brought into Taliesin in June of 1914. Born in 1884 in Barbados, Julian was a hard worker but was often chided over fellow manservants. Arguments between Julian and residents of Taliesin flared up, sometimes racially fueled, and Mamah asked Julian and his wife to leave. At the beginning of August, 1914, Julian tendered his two-week notice and planned for his departure....
|Martha "Mamah" Borthwick shortly before her death.|
Photo: New York Times
Inside, Taliesin foreman, Thomas Brunker, carpenter Billy Weston and his 13-year-old son Ernest, draftsmen Herbert Fritz and Emil Brodelle, and landscape designer David Lindblom were eating their lunch. Upon hearing the screams outside, they curiously rose from their table to investigate only to find that the doors had been locked from the outside. Working quickly, Julian lit fires he had prepared under the doors of the dining room. Panic quickly set in and Fritz broke a window to escape, breaking his arm in the process. Julian and his axe were waiting patiently for them outside, doing the devil's work one them one-by-one. Fritz, engulfed in flames and screaming for his life, rolled down the hill and was presumed dead by Julian. Weston was the next one to emerge from the window and was hit twice by the axe until Brunker climbed out and Julian moved to kill him. He was found with a large wedge taken out of the top of his skull. The young Ernest Weston was next, cold-heartedly killed as he watched his father burn at the bottom of the hill. Finally, Brodelle was last out of the house and into the clutches of Julian and his axe, butchered like a steer in a slaughterhouse.
|Julian Carlton after his arrest. Photo: BBC|
Despite the grisly scene, Weston and Fritz managed to escape slaughter as the fire department and Spring Green residents arrived to investigate. They were greeted with the smouldering remains of the Taliesin, the stench of charred human flesh and blood flowing through the immaculate landscaping. Julian himself was not on the scene, but hiding in a basement furnace room at Taliesin swallowing hydrochloric acid in an attempt to evade capture. The townspeople were roaring to lynch him but authorities took him to the jail in Dodgeville. Despite repeated interrogations Julian said little about the murders. The hydrochloric acid Julian swallowed scarred his esophagus and he was unable to swallow. It took him seven weeks of starvation to die in prison..
Frank Lloyd Wright received a telegram that day stating simply, "Taliesin destroyed by fire." He arrived on the scene around midnight and later recalled how the building was "swept down and away in a madman's nightmare of flame and murder.... The great stone chimneys...black and tall on the hillside, their fireplaces now gaping holes." Later he identified the "charred and axed remains of the victims" draped with white sheets as they lay in his aunt's home in Spring Green.
|Aftermath. Photo: Murderpedia.org|